Cornell University

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Community, Context, Critique: Sri Lanka Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 9:00am to 4:00pm

Kahin Center
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

As in years prior, this conference provides an opportunity for graduate students to critically engage with the particularities of Sri Lanka and its diasporas; particularities often sacrificed to make our work speak clearly to non-specialist audiences. While we acknowledge the many benefits of such generalized engagement, we also recognize a keen need to build community around a shared sense of context. If there is something unique about the field of Sri Lankan Studies, then gathering in a common space to discuss the specificities of a local context offers opportunities to consider not only how this material contributes to the academic conversations in which it tends to be subsumed, but also how conventions of rigor, generosity, and accountability might best be achieved amongst scholars most intimately familiar with the conditions of producing this material. The conference will include students from within Sri Lanka; papers that engage with contemporary Sri Lankan scholarship, recognizing that the study of Sri Lanka within Sri Lanka often finds nuances lost in generalized or comparative disciplines around the globe; and reflections on the ways in which our institutional locations determine our approach to the study of Sri Lanka. The graduate conference aims to enhance intellectual exchange on Sri Lanka, emphasize the production of empirical and non-sectarian knowledge, build a new cohort of researchers across disciplines and institutions, and strengthen research and mentoring relationships across geographic, linguistic, and institutional borders.



9:00-9:15 am Welcome

Iftikhar Dadi (History of Art & South Asia Program, Cornell University)


9:15-10:30 am  Community and Context of the Nation

Theorising Internal Colonisation Through Resettlement Policy  Pasan Jayasinghe (Political Science, University College London)

Making National Art Relationally in Postcolonial Sri Lanka: Case Study of Ediriweera Sarachchandra and Charles de Silva Gurunnanse  Chamila Somirathna (Sinhala, University of Kelaniya)

Discussant: Anindita Banerjee (Comparative Literature, Cornell University)


10:45 am-12:00 pm Digital Archives of Sri Lanka

Crystal Baines (Programme Consultant, American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies)

Thamilini Jothilingam (Digital Asset Archivist, University of the Fraser Valley)

Kartik Amarnath (Archival Creators Fellow, South Asian American Digital Archive)

Chair: Anne M. Blackburn (Asian Studies, Cornell University)


1:30-2:00 pm Resources for Sri Lankan Studies

Bandara Herath (Asian Studies, Cornell University)

Daniel Bass (South Asia Program, Cornell University)


2:00-3:15 pm Eastern Communities and Contexts

The Tricky Work of Living: Everyday Life of Hill Country Tamils in Postwar Eastern Sri Lanka  Shalini Mariyathas (Geography and Planning, University of Toronto)

Storytelling Brahmins: Migration, Marriage, and Caste in Sri Lanka’s East  Senthujan Senkaiahliyan (Health Sciences, University of Toronto)

Discussant: Elizabeth Bittel (Sociology, SUNY-Cortland)

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Comparative Literature



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Gloria Lemus-Chavez

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