Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sri Lanka at the cross-roads of history

A major conference on the historiography of Sri Lanka will be held in Cambridge from Friday, 3 June 2011 to Saturday, 4 June 2011.  The full programme and online registration form are available at: 
Sri Lanka lies at the centre of the Indian Ocean, where it has served as a node between Indian ocean trades: to the west, to West Asia and Africa, and to the east, to the Bay of Bengal and South-east Asia. Its location at the southern tip of India has ensured that it has received waves of conquerors, settlers, traders, dynasties and holy men. 
Sri Lanka has also been a major participant in the Theravada Buddhist ecumene extending to Southeast Asia. And its strategic location was partly why it was colonized by three successive imperial regimes: the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Yet Sri Lanka's history has remained marginal to debates in world and imperial history. The island provides a good opportunity to reconsider questions of locality and generality, connection and comparison, from a specific place.

One objective of the conference is to help to re-energize research into the history of Sri Lanka in the UK by bringing researchers whose work has touched on the island into contact with one another and with leading international scholars. However, speakers will be invited to move beyond national history by locating their work within broader and more imaginative conceptions of space, and wider debates in world history. Some speakers will be approaching their subject through 'connected history', by considering the island's place in extensive webs of empire, trade, and travel, the transnational flows of ideas, styles and goods. Others will use the island in a more strictly comparative vein too. 

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