The Hybrid Island

Culture Crossings and the Invention of Identity in Sri Lanka

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Culture Crossings and the Invention of Identity in Sri Lanka

This collection of essays constitutes a tribute to the mixed, hybrid and multicultural nature of Sri Lanka’s society and cultures, composed of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslims and Burghers and including the major faiths Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The volume challenges assumptions of ethnic purity (based on myths of origin- Aryan, Dravidian, Semitic, European) by attempting to recover a hidden history of hybridity, and critiques facile celebrations of hybridity by assessing moments at which hybridity is empowering and when it is not. This book covers a range of topics from the personal effects by hybridity to its ramifications in post-colonial identity politics. It examines the Vaddas and the Sinhalese, common kinship patterns of the Sinhalese and Tamils, the demonization of the Burghers of mixed ancestry, the hybrid music and art forms and the Kandyans and hybrid things.

The essays engage with different notions of hybridity-identity, race and culture-and their manifestations by exploring the class, caste, gender, ethnic and religious constituents that determine the forms of intermixing apparent in the Sri Lankan context. Part of the agenda of the writers is devoted to deriving a theoretical discourse that enables them to locate the real contexts they grapple with. They render a meaning for them hybridity which reflects the complexities within the Sri Lankan context.