Spatialising Politics: Culture and Geography in Postcolonial Sri Lanka brings together essays on the theme of spatial politics of Sri Lanka. Space is an important factor in the ongoing ethnic conflict fuelling Sri Lanka's continuing civil war. Claims and contestations over the integrity of island space and the control of northern and eastern territories are central to the violently contested dispute. The editors view space from a different perspective. They argue that space is important through a number of registers less frequently invoked in dominant approaches to understanding postcolonial Sri Lankan nationhood, identity and difference. The book examines and historicizes the role of spatialities often occluded within the debates on Sri Lankan politics such as, cities and built-space, diasporic productions and imaginations, commodity cultures and their concordant networks, knowledge spaces and ‘foreign’ intervention, landscape and sacred space, as well as geographical knowledge.

Situated at the intersection of human geography and postcolonial studies, the book signals the ways that postcolonialism and geography are intimately linked and how their intersections evoke the social, spatial and political effects of enduring colonial discourse and representation. In developing its argument, Spatialising Politics also gestures towards alternative spatial imaginations, possibilities and representations, at a time when spaces for alternative discourses on Sri Lankan politics are fast shrinking.

Coffee, Disease, and the ‘Simultaneity of Stories-So-Far’ in the Highlands of 19th-Century Ceylon

Coffee, Disease, and the ‘Simultaneity of Stories-So-Far’ in the Highlands of 19th-Century Ceylon
Coffee, disease, and the ‘simultaneity of stories-so-far’ in the highlands of 19th-century Ceylon

My concern in this chapter is to briefly develop a case study within the broad topic of the spatialisation of the history of modernity in relation to British colonialism.1 Doreen Massey (2005: 63) calls for a rethinking and reworking of modernity ‘away from being the unfolding, internal story of Europe alone’. She sees European modernity as one of many coeval, intersecting trajectories, ‘the simultaneity of stories-so-far’ as she calls them. By opening out the history of modernity spatially and repositioning it within intersecting Asian, European, and North and Central American trajectories, one can add complexity and differentiation, and reveal multiple ...

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