Lanka, Ceylon, Sarandib: merely three disparate names for a single island? Perhaps. Yet the three diverge in the historical echoes, literary cultures, maps and memories they evoke. Names that have intersected and overlapped - in a treatise, a poem, a document - only to go their own ways. But despite different trajectories, all three are tied to narratives of banishment and exile.
In Banishment and Belonging: Exile and Diaspora in Sarandib, Lanka and Ceylon
(Cambridge University Press, 2020), Ronit Ricci suggests that the island served as a concrete exilic site as well as a metaphor for imagining exile across religions, languages, space and time: Sarandib, where Adam was banished from Paradise; Lanka, where Sita languished in captivity; and Ceylon, faraway island of exile for Indonesian royalty under colonialism.
Using Malay manuscripts and documents from Sri Lanka, Javanese chronicles, and Dutch and British sources, Ricci explores histories and imaginings of displacement related to the island through a study of the Sri Lankan Malays and their connections to an exilic past.
is the Sternberg-Tamir Chair in Comparative Cultures and Associate Professor in the departments of Asian Studies and Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is also Associate Professor at the School of Culture, History and Language at Australian National University in Canberra.
Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome.
Kelvin Ng, co-hosted the episode. He is a Ph.D. student at Yale University, History Department. His research interests broadly lie in the history of imperialism and anti-imperialism in the early-twentieth-century Indian Ocean circuit.