K. Sivathamby

Professor Karthigesu Sivathamby (Tamil: கார்த்திகேசு சிவத்தம்பி; 10 May 1932 – 6 July 2011) was a Sri Lankan Tamil literary historian, author and academic.


K. Sivathamby
கா. சிவத்தம்பி
Born(1932-05-10)10 May 1932
Died6 July 2011(2011-07-06) (aged 79)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Alma mater

Early life and familyEdit

Sivathamby was born on 10 May 1932 in Karaveddy in northern Ceylon.[1][2][3][4] He was the son of T. P. Karthigesu, a Tamil pundit, and Valliammai.[1][5] He was educated at Vigneswara Vidyalayam and Zahira College, Colombo (1949–52).[1][2] After school Sivathamby joined the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya in 1953, studying under K. Kanapathypillai and graduating with B.A. degree in history, economics and Tamil.[1][3][4] Sivathamby became a Marxist during his university days.[2] He later received a M.A. degree in Tamil, under the guidance of S. Vithiananthan, from the university.[2][3] Sivathamby received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Birmingham in 1970 after producing thesis, supervised by George Derwent Thomson, on drama in ancient Tamil society.[3][4][6]

Sivathamby was married to Rupavathy.[3][4] They had three daughters (Mangai, Kothai and Varthani).[3][4]


Sivathamby worked as a simultaneous interpreter at the House of Representatives of Ceylon before teaching at Zahira College.[3][4] He then taught at Vidyodaya University (1965–78) before joining the University of Jaffna in 1978 and heading up its Tamil and Aesthetic Studies departments.[3][4][7] He retired from the University of Jaffna in 1996 but then served as emeritus professor at the university until his death.[3][4][7]

Sivathamby was a visiting professor of Tamil at the Uppsala University (1992), University of Madras (1998) and Institute of International Tamil Studies, Madras (1999).[3][7] He was senior research/visiting fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (1982), Tamil University (1982) and University of Cambridge (1983–84).[3][4][7]

Sivathamby was chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Citizens of North and East of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Refugee Rehabilitation Organisation (1986–98).[3][4] He was also patron of the Colombo Tamil Sangam.[3] Sivathamby died on 6 July 2011 at his home in Dehiwala, Colombo following a heart attack.[1][3][4]


Sivathamby wrote around 70 books and 200 research papers including:[3][4][8][9][10]

  • The Tamil Film as a Medium of Political Communication (1981, New Century Book House)
  • Drama in Ancient Tamil Society (1981, New Century Book House)
  • Literary History in Tamil: A Historiographical Analysis (1986, Tamil University)
  • Sri Lankan Tamil Society and Politics (1995, New Century Book House)
  • Studies in Ancient Tamil Society: Economy, Society and the State Formation (1998, New Century Book House)
  • Being Tamil and Sri Lankan (2005, Aivakam)
  • Confronting the Prospects for Peace in Sri Lanka
  • Sri Lankan Tamils: Introduction to Their History Culture and Politics
  • Tamil Nationalism and Social Conflicts
  • The Origin and Development of Tamil Short Story, Novel and Life
  • Understanding the Dravidian Movement


  1. ^ a b c d e Jameel, S .H. M. (7 August 2011). "Zahira students are indebted to this great teacher of Tamil and History". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka).
  2. ^ a b c d Sriskanthadas, Bhagavadas (24 July 2011). "Sivathamby: An academic who advocated tolerance". The Nation (Sri Lanka).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Tamil scholar Sivathamby passes away". The Hindu. 8 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Professor Sivathamby passes away". TamilNet. 6 July 2011.
  5. ^ Wijeyaratna, Thilaka (6 August 2011). "Tribute - Professor Karthigesu Sivathamby: An unparalleled Tamil scholar". Daily News (Sri Lanka).
  6. ^ "Monument of Tamil Intellectual History, Professor K.Sivathambys' 4th Death Anniversary today". Tamil Diplomat. 6 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Sivakumaran, K. S. (31 August 2005). "Lankan scholar with International recognition". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  8. ^ "Karthigesu Sivathamby". Google Scholar.
  9. ^ Sivakumaran, K. S. (27 July 2011). "In honour of the late Prof Karthigesu Sivathamby". Daily News (Sri Lanka).
  10. ^ Dorairaj, S. (30 July 2011). "Man of insights". Frontline. 28 (16).