Search

Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History

Edited by Zoltán Biedermann and Alan Strathern

ISBN: 9781911307822

Publication: June 07, 2017

What is this?

The peoples of Sri Lanka have participated in far-flung trading networks, religious formations, and Asian and European empires for millennia. This interdisciplinary volume sets out to draw Sri Lanka into the field of Asian and Global History by showing how the latest wave of scholarship has explored the island as a ‘crossroads’, a place defined by its openness to movement across the Indian Ocean.

Experts in the history, archaeology, literature and art of the island from c.500 BCE to c.1850 CE use Lankan material to explore a number of pressing scholarly debates. They address these matters from their varied disciplinary perspectives and diverse array of sources, critically assessing concepts such as ethnicity, cosmopolitanism and localisation, and elucidating the subtle ways in which the foreign may be resisted and embraced at the same time. The individual chapters, and the volume as a whole, are a welcome addition to the history and historiography of Sri Lanka, as well as studies of the Indian Ocean region, kingship, colonialism, imperialism, and early modernity.

Praise for Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History

‘[Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History] brings us views of well-published scholars, and the collection conforms to the highest standards of the historical enterprise. Historians in Sri Lanka and elsewhere will profit by it, and it should be in every major library.’
Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities

'[Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History] brings us views of well-published scholars, and the collection conforms to the highest standards of the historical enterprise. Historians in Sri Lanka and elsewhere will profit by it, and it should be in every major library.'
Thuppahi's Blog

'works such as this could play a key role in... framing debates on what direction Sri Lanka should take in the future'
Himal Southasian

‘This valuable volume, offering access to much recent research and thoughtful analysis, will rightly capture the attention of Sri Lanka and South Asia specialists. Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History has much to off er other readers and interlocutors also, especially scholars of world history and Indian Ocean studies, including those debating the comparative reach and value of “cosmopolitanism” as an analytical concept.’
Professor Anne M. Blackburn, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University, USA

Alan Strathern is Associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford and Tutor and Fellow in History at Brasenose College. He is the author of Kingship and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Sri Lanka (2007), and a number of journal articles and book chapters. He is currently writing a comparative history of ruler conversions to monotheism in world history.

Zoltán Biedermann is Senior Lecturer and Head of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at UCL. He is the author of The Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South India (2014) and numerous articles and book chapters on the history of European expansion and knowledge production in the Indian Ocean region. He is currently finishing his fourth book, a study of the Portuguese involvement in Sri Lanka before 1600.

Introduction: Querying the cosmopolitan in Sri Lankan and Indian Ocean history
Alan Strathern and Zoltán Biedermann

1 Archaeology and cosmopolitanism in early historic and medieval Sri Lanka
Robin Coningham, Mark Manuel, Christopher Davis and Prishanta Gunawardhana

2 ‘Implicit cosmopolitanism’ and the commercial role of ancient Lanka
Rebecca R. Darley

 3 A Pāli cosmopolis? Sri Lanka and the Theravāda Buddhist ecumene, c. 500–1500
Tilman Frasch

4 Beautifully moral: cosmopolitan issues in medieval Pāli literary theory
Alastair Gornall and Justin Henry

5 Sinhala sandēśa poetry in a cosmopolitan context
Stephen C. Berkwitz

6 The local and the global: the multiple visual worlds of ivory carvers in early modern Sri Lanka
Sujatha Arundathi Meegama

7 Cosmopolitan converts: the politics of Lankan exile in the Portuguese Empire
Zoltán Biedermann

8 Between the Portuguese and the Nāyakas: the many faces of the Kandyan Kingdom, 1591–1765 
Gananath Obeyesekere

9 Through the lens of slavery: Dutch Sri Lanka in the eighteenth century
Alicia Schrikker and Kate J. Ekama

10 Cosmopolitanism and indigeneity in four violent years: the fall of the kingdom of Kandy and the Great Rebellion revisited
Sujit Sivasundaram

11 The digestion of the foreign in Lankan history, c. 500–1818
Alan Strathern

'works such as this could play a key role in... framing debates on what direction Sri Lanka should take in the future'
  Himal Southasian
'[Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History] brings us views of well-published scholars, and the collection conforms to the highest standards of the historical enterprise. Historians in Sri Lanka and elsewhere will profit by it, and it should be in every major library.'
  Thuppahi's Blog
‘[Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History] brings us views of well-published scholars, and the collection conforms to the highest standards of the historical enterprise. Historians in Sri Lanka and elsewhere will profit by it, and it should be in every major library.’
  Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities

‘This valuable volume, offering access to much recent research and thoughtful analysis, will rightly capture the attention of Sri Lanka and South Asia specialists. Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History has much to off er other readers and interlocutors also, especially scholars of world history and Indian Ocean studies, including those debating the comparative reach and value of “cosmopolitanism” as an analytical concept.’


Anne M. Blackburn  

Format: Open Access PDF

ISBN: 9781911307822

Publication: June 07, 2017

Scroll to top