Dr. Shermal Wijewardene

Dr. Shermal Wijewardene

Senior Lecturer

Qualifications : PhD Gender Studies (Monash), MPhil in English Studies (Oxford), BA English Hons. (Delhi)

Teaching areas : Shakespeare Studies, Chaucer, Milton, The Novel in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Introduction to Gender Studies

Research interests : queer and feminist literary studies/film studies

Awards and grants :

  • ISAP fellowship at the Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany, May 2012.
  • Endeavour International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) awarded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia for postgraduate study (PhD) in Gender Studies at Monash University (2007-2011).
  • Monash Graduate Scholarship (MGS) for postgraduate study (PhD) in Gender Studies at Monash University (2007-2011).
  • Violet Vaughan Morgan Commonwealth Studentship awarded for postgraduate study (MPhil) in English Literature at the University of Oxford (1997-1999).
  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarship to the University of Delhi for undergraduate study.
  • G. Pershad Memorial Prize, Miranda House, University of Delhi
  • Gayatri Das Gupta Memorial Prize, Miranda House, University of Delhi
  • Sanyukta and D. N. Chaudhri Endowment, Miranda House, University of Delhi

Involvement with other organizations :

  • Member of the panel of judges for the State Literary Award, Department of Cultural Affairs, Sri Lanka (2013, 2014, and 2017)
  • Juror, Jaffna International Film Festival, 2015, organized by Agenda 14 (Sri Lankan Alternative Cinema Forum)
  • Panellist at Inside/out- A Film Marathon, 2013, organized by Agenda 14.
  • Judge and Reviewer– ‘Reimagining Development’ Film Competition, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), 2014.
  • Guest lecturer, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) Guest Lecture series on Feminist Theory, May 2014.
  • Doing Gender – Critical Gender Studies and Practice Workshop– Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), 2014.
  • Judge – Agenda 14 Short Film Festival, 2012 and 2013
  • Judge – Gratiaen Award, 2003.

Executive and other positions on boards of international, national organizations

  • Chairperson, Board of Directors, the Women and Media Collective, Colombo, 2016 to date
  • Visiting Fellow at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), Sri Lanka, 2015 – 2016.
  • Member of the Board of Study in English of the National Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences (NCAS), Ministry of Higher Education, 2015 – to date.
  • Member of the Board of Study for TLSC of the Postgraduate Institute of English, Open University of Sri Lanka
  • Member, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) Sub-committee on LGBT rights, 2016 to date.
  • Advisor, Urgent Action Fund

Editorial work

  • Editor, Proceedings of the Annual Research Symposium of the University of Colombo (2017) – Research for Development: Challenges and Opportunities.
  • Editor, Proceedings of the International Conference of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo (2014) – Revisiting Social Responsibility in Contexts of Crisis: Challenges and Possibilities in Sri Lanka
  • Member of the Editorial Board for Nivedini (2017), the Women’s Education and Research Centre journal
  • Reviewed academic papers for Mobilisation: An International Quarterly, the LST Review, Nivedini, and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
  • Editor, Partners, Journal of the National Committee on Women, Sri Lanka
  • Reviewer for the Women’s Education and Research Centre, Sri Lanka
  • Reviewer for the Law and Society Trust, Sri Lanka
  • Reviewer for the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka

Books

  • Wijewardene, S., & K. Samuel. 2015. 3D Things: Devices, Technologies and Women’s Organising in Sri Lanka. Colombo: Surya Women’s Development Center and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
  • Wijewardene, S., and V. K. Nagaraj. (2014). Human Rights Practice in Sri Lanka: Towards a Thick Description. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
  • Fernando, L., and S. Wijewardene (eds.) 2006. Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis in the Global Context. Colombo: Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  • Fernando, L., and S. Wijewardene (eds.) 2006. Sri Lanka, Challenges of a Society in Transition. Colombo: Faculty of Graduate Studies

Book Chapters

  • Wijewardene, S. 2016. “Sri Lanka’s Autonomous Women’s Engagement with LBT Advocacy”. In Olson, G., M. Horn-Schott, D. Hartley and L. Schmidt (eds.) Beyond Gender: An Advanced Introduction to Futures of Feminist and Sexuality Studies. Abingdon, Oxen: Routledge.
  • Wijewardene, S & P. Peiris. 2016. “Breast Milk and the Sari: Conceptualisations of Women’s Issues in Parliament”. In Parliament’s Representation of Women: A Selective Review of Sri Lanka’s Hansards from 2008-2015. Colombo: Women and Media Collective.
  • Wijewardene, S. 2008. “Gender-based violence in Sri Lanka” In Coomaraswamy, R., and N. Perera-Rajasingham (eds.) Constellations of Violence: Feminist Interventions in South Asia. New Delhi: Women Unlimited.
  • Wijewardene, S. 2007. “But no one has explained to me who I am now: trans self-perceptions in Sri Lanka.” In Wieringa, Saskia E., E. Blackwood and A. Bhaiya (eds.) Women’s Sexualities and Masculinities in a Globalizing Asia. New York: Palgrave. (Winner of the 2007 Ruth Benedict Award)

Refereed and non-refereed Journal Articles

  • Wijewardene, S. 2017. “Why is Issi so unwell lately?: Illness, pregnancy, and the straight woman in Frangipani’s queer cinematic narrative”. Law and Society Trust Review. (forthcoming)
  • Deshapriya, P. M., Mendis, J. M., Wijewardene, S, and Wijesiriwardene, S. 2017. Virtually queer: Human rights of LGBTQ Sri Lankans in the online space. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Association for Progressive Communication and the Women and Media Collective.
  • Wijewardene, S. 2016. “Queering Sinhala Cinema’s Sexual Geographies: Gender non-conformity and same-sex sexuality imagined through urban-rural tropes in Frangipani”, Sahitya, Special issue (Edited by Harshana Rambukwella).
  • Nagaraj, V. K. & Wijewardene, S. 2016. “On Queering our Approach to the Law: A Conversation with Priya Thangarajah.” Law and Society Trust Review, 28.341. 5 – 9
  • Wijewardene, S. 2015. “Women’s sexually proactive past and their bleak reproductive future: Analysing Scent of the Lotus Pond.” Options, 50.
  • Nagaraj, V. K, & Wijewardene, S. 2014. ‘A Very Highly Political Job’: Human Rights Practice, ‘The Political’, and Practitioners’ Dilemmas in Sri Lanka.’ Journal of Human Rights Practice 6. 3. 399–421
  • Wijewardene, S. 2013. “Sinhala Cinema through a Feminist Lens”. Law and Society Trust Review 24. 313 & 314.
  • Wijewardene, S. 2008. “Heaven’s Edge and the Ideal Landscape.” Colombo University Review, 2.1.
  • Wijewardene, S. 2004. “A Private Vision: the inward space of women’s creativity in Yasmine Gooneratne’s writing.” Wasafiri 41.

Conference papers, panel presentations, and keynote speeches

  • Panellist, Roundtable discussion on “Teaching, Research, and Application of Third World Approaches to International Law in Higher Education”, at the Workshop on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) January, 2017.
  • Panellist, “LBT Workshop on Domestic violence, Family violence & Access to Justice”, (via Skype) at ILGA World Conference, November 2016.
  • Panellist, ‘Rights of Other Marginalised Groups’ at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights’ 25th anniversary International Conference on Human Rights, Citizenship and Democratisation, Colombo, 2016.
  • Presentation, “What is meant by ‘online feminist activism’ in the context of Sri Lanka?” at Feminist Politics of the Internet, and Digital Security, workshop and seminar organised by the Women and Media Collective in Colombo, in coordination with the global ICT network, the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), 2016.
  • Wijewardene, S, and Peiris, P. “‘Inappropriate’ Subjects: the Portrayal of Women in Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary Discourse” at the International Conference of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, 2015.
  • Chaired and moderated session at the Regions Refocus 2015 initiative of the Dag Hammerskjold Foundation, 2015, New York.
  • Moderator at Colomboscope for the session, “Clothed in Ideology: Dressing the Female Body in History”, 2014.
  • Guest lecturer, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) Guest Lecture series on Feminist Theory, 2014.
  • Conceptualised and conducted Doing Gender – Critical Gender Studies and Practice Workshop for the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), 2014.
  • Panelist (Title of paper: “Speaking Looks in Ini Avan: women, body language, and affect in Post-war Sri Lankan cinema”) at Women, Radicalism, Politics organized by the Department of English, University of Colombo, 2014.
  • Panellist at Colomboscope (literary/arts event) for the session, “The Kaduwa : A debate on English/Singlish/Tinglish and the mixing of languages”, 2013.
  • Panellist, at regional seminar, Unpacking Multiple Identities within Gender Based Art Through Critical Writing, organized by the International Art Critics Association, 2013.
  • Wijewardene, S. “Stories for Adults? Four Stories from Blue”. University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts conference, 2011
  • Paper presented, (title of presentation: “Is there a Lesbian Movement in South Asia?” at Count Me In (South Asia Conference on Violence Against Marginalised Women), 2011, Nepal.
  • Panellist in session, “Ungendering Cinema”, Rainbow Film Fest, Goethe Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 3 June 2014.
  • “Competing stakeholders: Making men and LBT persons participants in concerns about gender based violence in Sri Lanka”, paper presented at Gender Based Violence: Issues and Challenges, Panel Discussion organised by the Sociology Alumni Association, University of Colombo, on 29 May 2014.
  • Guest Speaker, “Using Visual Media to Raise Awareness on gender-based issues” at Poster Competition on “Woman”, organised by the European Union, the Swiss Embassy, and Agenda 14, May 2014.
  • Discussant at “Let’s Talk Men: Consultative Workshop on South Asian Masculinities”, organised by CARE International, 8 January 2014, Colombo.
  • Panellist at “Gender in Sinhala cinema reviewing, 2000- 2013”, at Unpacking Multiple Identities within Gender Based Art through Critical Writing, International Art Critics Association Regional Seminar, November 30 and December 1, 2013, Colombo.
  • “Anti-prejudice lessons in the university: the educative role of straight romance in the Sri Lankan campus novel, The Iron Fence”, paper presented at the University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts Research Symposium, 4 October 2013, Colombo.
  • “Women’s Organizing in Sri Lanka and the Place of the Movement History”, Guest speaker at launch of book, Women’s Movement in Sri Lanka: History, Trends and Trajectories by Selvy Thiruchandran, 20 April 2013, Colombo.
  • Panellist in session, “Women in Development, Deconstructed: Feminist Perspectives on Development”, at Reimagining Development: An Ideas Exchange organised by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), 12 December 2012, Colombo
  • Keynote speaker, (topic “Interdisciplinarity and Women’s Studies”), at the national conference of the Women’s Education and Research Centre, 30 November – 1 December 2012.
  • “Conducting fieldwork in Sri Lanka for LGBT research projects: ethical and political considerations”, workshop on social science research organized by the American Institute for Lankan Studies, 20 December 2012, Colombo.
  • ‘Male Impersonation’: understanding the panic over ‘passing’ in Sri Lanka”, paper presented at Sexual Cultures conference, 20-22 April 2012, University of Uxbridge, UK.Cultures conference, 20-22 April 2012, University of Uxbridge, UK.
  • “Esteeming or disrespecting: Learning about a postcolonial literary aesthetic from attitudes to Sri Lanka’s Gratiaen Prize for Creative Writing in English” paper presented at A Postcolonial Aesthetic? Australian, South Asian and African Literature and Film symposium organized by the Centre for Postcolonial Writing, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 6 October 2011 Cultures conference, 20-22 April 2012, University of Uxbridge, UK.

Graduate supervision: 

I would be interested in supervising students working on queer and critical gender approaches to literature

Other responsibilities :

  • Lecturer, MA in English Studies, Department of English, University of Colombo
  • Visiting Lecturer, MA in Conflict & Peace Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo.
  • Coordinator, MA in English Studies, Department of English, University of Colombo, 2013 – 2015
  • Director of Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo (2013 to date)
  • Guest Lecturer, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany (2012)
  • Director of Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo (2003 – 2006) 2006-2007
  • Coordinator, Postgraduate Diploma/Master in American Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo, 2006-2007
  • Visiting Lecturer, Postgraduate Diploma in Women’s Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo