Professor Kingsley Muthumuni de Silva is one of the foremost historians in South Asia. He has made an unparalleled contribution to historical studies in South Asia through investigation and research into the colonial rule of Sri Lanka by the Great Powers of the West. He has also been deeply interested in conflict resolution between the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups and the right to self-determination in contemporary society.
After graduating with a degree in history from the University of Ceylon (currently the University of Peradeniya), Professor de Silva began teaching at the same university. He later studied at the University of London and earned a Ph.D. for his detailed research into the social policy of missionary organizations in the mid-19th century. Returning to Sri Lanka, he promoted research into the modern history of Sri Lanka by joining with other historians working in the field of South Asian studies. The result of this effort was the compilation and publication of the third volume of "History of Ceylon". The University of Ceylon established a chair on the History of Ceylon course at the university to support his dynamic research and educational activities in 1969. As the Foundation Professor for this course, he played a central role in historical research and published in 1981 the groundbreaking "A History of Sri Lanka", a comprehensive overview of the country, providing this historical interpretation with leadership for academic research into Sri Lanka. The University of London, in 1991, awarded him a D.Litt., a degree offered only to those who have made exceptional contributions through their research.
The field of research to which Professor de Silva has primarily devoted his attention as a historian is the characteristics of the colonial administrations of Portugal, the Netherlands, and Great Britain, as well as Sri Lanka's ethnic problems, which arose from the colonial policy of "divide and rule." As an outgrowth of his research activities, he established the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in the cities of Colombo and Kandy in 1982 and assumed its directorship. Unconstrained by the framework of academic research, he has engaged in a wide range of activities to the present day to resolve the problems of ethnic conflict. His book, "Reaping the Whirlwind: Ethnic Conflict, Ethnic Politics in Sri Lanka", was a landmark work in this field. In addition to his research activities in the field combining historical research and ethnic issues, he has worked to train practical researchers and to peacefully resolve armed conflict.
Thus, Professor de Silva has produced significant achievements in corroborative research into modern history and ongoing ethnic issues in South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka. He is truly a worthy laureate of the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.