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Einaudi Center Roundtable: "Indian Ocean Politics in the 21st Century"

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, Lewis Auditorium
232 East Ave, Central Campus


Robert Blake, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Indonesia

Tissa Jayatilaka, Director of the Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission

Moderated by Anne Blackburn, Professor of South Asia Studies and Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University, and Director of the Cornell University South Asia Program

Amb. Blake and Mr. Jayatilaka will address the contemporary geopolitical dynamics of the Indian Ocean region, with special attention to U.S. and Sri Lankan positions and interests. This roundtable illuminates the nexus of U.S., Indian, Sri Lankan, and Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, and the place of the Indian Ocean region in the current and emerging economic and diplomatic policies of key players on the international stage.

Currently senior director of McLarty Associates, Ambassador Blake served for 31 years in the State Department in a wide range of leadership positions. In 2009, he was nominated by President Obama to be Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, serving from 2009-2013, for which he was awarded the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award.

Most recently, from 2013-2016, he was the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, where he focused on building stronger business and educational ties between the U.S. and Indonesia, while also developing cooperation to help Indonesia reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ambassador Blake holds a BA from Harvard College, and an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

Tissa Jayatilaka has served as the executive director of the Bi-national United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission of Mutual Academic Exchange since May 1989.

He has been a visiting lecturer at several Sri Lankan universities since 1977 and was Visiting International Scholar at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa (2001).

Jayatilaka graduated with a master's degree in English from Wake Forest University, a master's in public administration from the Postgraduate Institute of Management of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, and a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya. 

Anne M. Blackburn studies Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia, with a special interest in Buddhist monastic culture and Buddhist participation in networks linking Sri Lanka and mainland Southeast Asia before and during colonial presence in the region.

Her publications include Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth-Century Lankan Monastic Culture (Princeton, 2001), Approaching the Dhamma: Buddhist Texts and Practices in South and Southeast Asia, co-edited with A/Prof Jeffrey Samuels (BPS Pariyatti Editions, 2003), and Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka (Chicago, 2010).

She received her BA from Swarthmore College, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago.

This event is organized by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the South Asia Program.


Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, South Asia Program, Southeast Asia Program, Sustainability


cashum, IP-CALS


Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Heike Michelsen

Contact Phone



Robert Blake, Tissa Jayatilaka

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair accessible. Please contact us with questions.

Open To

the public

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