University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of South Asian Studies occasional events > Kingsley Martin Memorial Lecture, 2015-16: Three scenes from rural life: Cambridge to Colombo and back again, 1954 to 2016

Kingsley Martin Memorial Lecture, 2015-16: Three scenes from rural life: Cambridge to Colombo and back again, 1954 to 2016

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Barbara Roe.

With a reception to follow in the Blue Board Common Room, Trinity College

I start from a moment in the 1950s when a small group of Cambridge researchers – Edmund Leach, Ben Farmer and Nur Yalman, followed soon after by Stanley Tambiah and Gananath Obeyesekere – initiated a conversation, fuelled by bouts of intense fieldwork, about land, kinship and social order in rural Sri Lanka. In my second scene, from the early 1980s, a new generation of researchers returned to the same questions, but in a landscape increasingly shaped by nationalist imaginings of the rural. In my final scene, the rural has become synonymous with poverty and its pathological consequences – self-harm and suicide, alcohol abuse and violence. What links these scenes, and what will become the subject-matter for this lecture is, in Raymond Williams’ words, “a problem of perspective”.

This talk is part of the Centre of South Asian Studies occasional events series.

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