S. Arasaratnam

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S. Arasaratnam
S. Arasaratnam.jpg
Born (1930-03-20)20 March 1930
Navaly, Ceylon
Died 4 October 1998(1998-10-04) (aged 68)
Sydney, Australia
Alma mater Jaffna College
University of Ceylon
University of London
Occupation Academic

Professor Sinnappah Arasaratnam (20 March 1930 – 4 October 1998) was a Ceylonese academic, historian and author, born in Sri Lanka during British colonial rule. Known as Arasa, he was a lecturer at the University of Ceylon, University of Malaya and University of New England (Australia).

Early life and family[edit]

Arasaratnam was born on 20 March 1930 in Navaly in northern province of Ceylon.[1] He was educated at Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai.[2] After school he joined the University of Ceylon in 1947 from where he graduated in 1951 with a First Class Honours BA degree.[1][2]

Arasaratnam married Thanalakshmi (Padma), daughter of Selvathurai. They had a son (Niranjan) and two daughters (Sulochana and Ranjana).[2] They have 7 grandchildren, 2 granddaughters (Lily and Meera) and 5 grandsons ( Eamonn, Arasa, Aron, Rohan and Isiah). Arasaratnam was a practising Christian who attended the Uniting Church in Armidale, New South Wales.[1]


After graduation in 1951 Arasaratnam was appointed an assistant lecturer of history at the University of Ceylon.[1][2] In 1954 he joined the University of London to carry out doctoral research and in 1956 he graduated with a Ph.D in history.[1][2] On returning to Ceylon Arasaratnam rejoined the University of Ceylon as a lecturer.[1][2] He was appointed lecturer in Indian Studies at the University of Malaya in 1961.[1] He was promoted to professor of history in 1968.[1][2]

Arasaratnam was appointed second professor in the Department of History at the University of New England (Australia) in 1972.[1][2] He took up the post in 1973. He held the Smuts Fellowship in Commonwealth Studies, Cambridge in 1977.[1] Arasaratnam retired from the University of New England in March 1995.[1]


Arasaratnam died suddenly in Sydney, Australia on 4 October 1998.[1] He was 68.


Arasaratnam was prolific writer — he wrote 15 books and 93 articles/chapters.[1][3] His literary works were achieved while heavily engaged with activities such as sitting on key bodies such as the Academic Advisory Committee.[4]

  • Dutch Power in Ceylon, 1658-1687 (1958, Netherlands Institute of Cultural Relations/Djambatan)
  • Ceylon (1964, Spectrum/Prentice-Hall)
  • Indian festivals in Malaya (1966, University of Malaya)
  • Indians in Malaysia and Singapore (1970, Institute of Race Relations, London/Oxford University Press)
  • Maritime India in the seventeenth century (1994, Oxford University Press)[5]
  • Ceylon and the Dutch, 1600-1800 (1996, Variorum)
  • Maritime commerce and English power (1996, Variorum)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Beer, Don. "Obituary Emeritus Professor Sinnappah Arasaratnam". University of New England (Australia). 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Arumugam, S. (1997). Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon. p. 10. 
  3. ^ "A Tribute to Three ‘Golden Age’ Dons with Great Respect". The Island, Sri Lanka. 10 May 2009. 
  4. ^ Associate Professor Don Beer, Obitury, Australia in the University Newsletter, Volume 13 Number 19, 23 October 1998
  5. ^ Scholberg, Henry (February 1997). "Maritime Trade, Society and European Influence in Southern Asia, 1600-1800 by Sinnappah Arasaratnam; Maritime India in the Seventeenth Century by Sinnappah Arasaratnam". The Journal of Asian Studies. 56 (1): 219–220. JSTOR 2646395. doi:10.2307/2646395.