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Contested Histories, Multi-Religious Space and Conflict: A Case Study of Kantarodai in Northern Sri Lanka

The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
Religions 2019, 10(9), 537; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090537
Received: 24 June 2019 / Revised: 14 September 2019 / Accepted: 16 September 2019 / Published: 19 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multifaith Spaces in Global Perspective)
This article focuses on the archaeological site of Kantarodai (Tamil) or Kadurugoda (Sinhala) on the Jaffna peninsula at the northernmost tip of Sri Lanka to examine the power of spatially embodied, contested histories within postcolonial and post-war communities. The Sri Lankan military who control Kantarodai view it simply as a Sinhala Buddhist site. However, when it is viewed through the lens of international archaeological scholarship, its multi-ethnic and multi-religious history becomes clear. Its present situation speaks of a failure to affirm the narratives connected with this history. In examining this case study, I first evoke the changing political and religious landscapes of the peninsula in the recent past, drawing on my own visits to Jaffna during Sri Lanka’s ethnic war. Second, I examine one dominant imaginary that is projected onto the peninsula, from the Sinhala Buddhist community, the most powerful community in the island. Thirdly, I move to Kantarodai, focussing on two recent representations of its history and the privileging of one of these in Sri Lanka’s post-war polity. I then assess the consequences for Sri Lanka of the failure to affirm multiplicity at Kantarodai, drawing out its wider relevance for the study of post-colonial and post-war societies. View Full-Text
Keywords: multi-religious spaces; postcolonialism; interreligious relations; mythical space; Kantarodai; Sri Lanka; Buddhism Hinduism multi-religious spaces; postcolonialism; interreligious relations; mythical space; Kantarodai; Sri Lanka; Buddhism Hinduism
MDPI and ACS Style

Harris, E.J. Contested Histories, Multi-Religious Space and Conflict: A Case Study of Kantarodai in Northern Sri Lanka. Religions 2019, 10, 537.

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