Amarasiri de Silva

Region of Interest

South Asia

Primary Country of Residence

United States of America


Visiting Professor


University of Pittsburgh


Mailing Address

Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh, USA

Countries of Specialization

Sri Lanka


PhD Anthropology (UConn)

Research Interests

Social and behavioural aspects of health and
medicine, community and village studies, urban studies.

Teaching Interests

Medical anthropology, applied sociology, research methodology
both at graduate and undergraduate levels.

Teaching at Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Courses
Year(s) Course Number & Title Role
8/25/2014 - 12/13/2014 SOC - 0475 - 27514, SOCIOLOGY OF AGING Primary Instructor
8/25/2014 - 12/13/2014 SOC - 1450 - 28982, HEALTH AND ILLNESS Primary Instructor
8/25/2014 - 12/20/2014 SOC - 0475 - 28178, SOCIOLOGY OF AGING Primary Instructor
1/5/2015 - 4/25/2015 SOC - 0475 - 26243, SOCIOLOGY OF AGING Primary Instructor
1/5/2015 - 4/25/2015 SOC - 1450 - 24306, HEALTH AND ILLNESS Primary Instructor


A Short Biography and Work - Amarasiri de Silva, PhD

Research Experience:

Professor Amarasiri de Silva has more than 40years’ experience in anthropological research, health and social sciences in Sri Lanka. His early research and writings were focused on fishing communities, (starting in 1975 when he first conducted a community study of coastal fisheries in the Southern Province, which went on to encompass many aspects of the lives of members of those communities), reproductive health, community nutrition, Family Planning among Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), rural communities, use of communication for social and economic development, child health and child abuse, child protection, and education. Amarasiri de Silva has carried out a study on health-seeking behavior of mothers with children under five years of age- a project supported by the WHO in 2001. Other areas in which Prof. de Silva has worked and gained experience include gender and sexuality, women’s empowerment, women in IDP communities, migrants to the Middle East, self-employment programs initiated by the government for women in the informal sector, and poverty among women.

In addition, he has wide experience in development-related work, including participatory approaches to community development. He has conducted one of the largest research projects into community participation in Sri Lanka – Community Participation in Primary Health Care – sponsored by WHO and IDRC from 1984-1990. In 1998, a large-scale study on youth sexuality was conducted as part of a team of university academics, which led to many publications on the subject in Sri Lanka. His work with community organizations as advisor to, and chairman and secretary of organizations such as the Centre for Intersectoral Community Health Studies, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (CICHS-P), and the Centre for National, Social, Economic Program and Policy Transformation, Sri Lanka (CONSEPT) and many NGOs has led to several research publications and helped improving livelihoods of marginalized groups in Sri Lanka. With his expertise in stakeholder analysis Amarasiri de Silva has been chosen as the local consultant and team leader for the stakeholder analysis of the Baseline Road Project of Colombo that was conducted in 2005/6 by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). His evaluation work ranges from simple projects to large scale development programs carried out in Sri Lanka.

Amarasiri de Silva has wide experience in project identification and formulation. He has played a leading role in the development and implementation of several large projects. He has worked for a number of different donors, including Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Department of International Development-UK (DFID), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United States Agency for International Development(USAID), World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank, as well as for various local NGOs.

Since 2013, as a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, Amarasiri de Silva has been working on the social and cultural aspects of the disease category known as the Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu).

Publications, conference papers, and presentations 2013-2015
(For previous publications and writings visit

Journal Articles:

1. “Modernization, Aging and Coresidence of Older Persons: The Sri Lankan Experience”. Anthropology and Aging, Vol 35, No 1 (2014), pp. 1-26 (with Welgama)
2. “The recall of malaria incidents as a measure of the health attentiveness of women in rural Sri Lanka”. Modern Sri Lanka Studies, (in press)

Journalism (Newspaper Articles)
3. Stop Hoodwinking the Public over Kidney Disease. Colombo Telegraph Feb 2014. lanka-stop- hoodwinking-the-public-over-kidney-disease/
4. The CKDu picture in Sri Lanka is certainly confusing. The Island Newspaper in two parts 08-05-2015 and 08-08-2015.
5. How reliable is CKDu data? The island newspaper July 22, 2014

Conference papers:
6. ‘The Sinhalese old age and religiosity’. Paper ID 126: IPURSE 2014, University of Peradeniya. (With Jayaprasad Welgama)
7. ‘Descriptive analysis of factors associated for overweight and obesity among children in urban Sri Lanka’. Paper ID 940: IPURSE 2014, University of Peradeniya. (with Priyadarshani Premarathe, Pujitha Wickramasinghe)
8. “Psycho-social issues faced by the Children with Obesity: A Sri Lankan Experience” Presented at the Wayamba University Conference on Social Sciences. (with Premarathne HDP and Wickramasinghe VP
9. “Impact of Changes in Food and Activity Patterns on Childhood Obesity: A Sri Lankan Experience” 13th International Congress on Obesity, the Vancouver Convention Centre, Canada. The conference will be held between the 1st and 4th May 2016. (Paper accepted for presentation)

10. “Water Drinking and Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology and People’s Experiences: The case of Sri Lanka”. Talk given at the Department of Anthropology, Macalester College, St Paul, MN 55105. November 4th 2014.


health ; medicine ; village studies ; urban studies ; medical anthropology ; ...