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Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History

Sri Lanka has been at the center of far-flung networks for millennia—a key part of trade routes, the spread of religions, and Asian and European empires. This book sets out to use contemporary scholarship that focuses on that role as a crossroads to set Sri Lanka more firmly in the fields of Asian and global history. Contributors draw on the archaeology, history, literature, and art of the island from 500 BCE to 1850 CE to explore a number of pressing scholarly debates. Showing the subtle ways in which foreign elements can be simultaneously resisted and embraced, the book presents a distinctive, but deeply connected, Sri Lanka, one that is defined by its openness to movement across the Indian Ocean.

354 pages | 34 illustrations | 6 x 9 1/4 | © 2017

Free digital open access editions are available to download from UCL Press.

History: General History


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Table of Contents

"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 Pali cosmopolis? Sri Lanka and the Theravada Buddhist ecumene,
c. 500–1500
Tilman Frasch


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


5 Sinhala sandesa 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 Nayakas: 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"

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