South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Space, Narrative and the Other: A Case Study of Kadurugoda/kantarodai in Sri Lanka

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Silveroak II, Ground Floor

Kadurugoda/Kantarodai is a large archaeological site on the Jaffna Peninsula in Sri Lanka. Currently overseen by the army, it receives busloads of Sinhala Buddhist ‘pilgrims’ from the South of the country, who are convinced that the foundations of the stūpas present at the site prove that the Jaffna peninsula was once peopled by Sinhala Buddhists within the Sinhala Kingdom. The narrative that the army offers these visitors, largely based on the writings of the Buddhist monk Ellawalla Medhānanda, evokes past Sinhala Buddhist glory and casts Tamils as destroyers of Buddhism in the North. However, there is an alternative narrative of the site, present within the scholarly work of Tamil historians and archaeologists: that its archaeology is continuous with South India rather than Anuradhapura and that Tamil Buddhists influenced its development, alongside Sinhala Buddhists.


The narratives surrounding Kadurugoda/Kantarodai mirror the spatial and ideological conflict that characterizes Sri Lanka’s post-war context. This paper, therefore, uses one case study to examine the way in which spatial imaginings are being used to subordinate the Other in Sri Lanka. It draws on themes present in my forthcoming monograph - Religion Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka: Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts (Routledge, 2018) – and on fieldwork in Sri Lanka since the ending of armed conflict in 2009.

Send Email for Elizabeth. J. Harris


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1 - Space, Narrative and the Other: A Case Study of Kadurugoda/kantarodai in Sri Lanka



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