Cornell University

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Writing Sri Lanka graduate student conference

Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 9:30am

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

The recent arrests and detentions of Sri Lankan writers, bloggers and poets form part of a long history of extrajudicial detention which elucidates the ever-present stakes of writing about Sri Lanka, or simply Writing Sri Lanka. This graduate student conference aims to collectively reflect on how these stakes surface in Sri Lanka Studies research, regardless of genre or discipline. Who wields the power to determine which writings about Sri Lanka are legitimate and authentic? Who determines which writings are benign to the state and which writings pose a threat? Under what circumstances are some writings deemed dangerous or illicit, in the guises of patriotism, security, or even the global war on terror? What power do words have—whether in literature or academia, across different languages and genres—to question, critique, and surpass how the state and any other institutions draw and enforce these distinctions?

Panel 1: Writing the Sri Lankan Nation

A Comparative Analysis of the Coverage of Rabindranath Tagore’s third Trip to Ceylon in 1934

Chamila Somirathna, Sinhala, University of Kelaniya

Resisting the Spectacular: Ethical Approaches to Engaging the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

Soraya Zarook, English, University of California, Riverside

Queer Voices in Post-War Transitional Sri Lanka

Thiyagaraja Waradas, Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath

Discussant: Anindita Banerjee, Comparative Literature, Cornell University

Panel 2: Writing Sri Lankan History

“Harmful” Genres in Sri Lankan Literary History: Revisiting Martin Wickramasinghe’s Bavataraṇaya

Crystal Baines , English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

From Kavikāra to Folk Singers: Sinhala Nationalism and the Folklorisation of Kavi

Tom Peterson, Music, SOAS, University of London

Discussant: Viranjini Munasinghe, Anthropology, Cornell University

Co-sponsored by the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies

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


asianstudiescal, anthro, cashum, complit



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