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Banishment and Belonging
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: November 2019
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online ISBN: 9781108648189

Book description

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. 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. Utilising 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.


‘Challenging the boundaries that too often divide area studies, Ronit Ricci's linguistic skills and path-breaking research historicize the Malay presence in contemporary Sri Lanka. Juxtaposing the literary and imaginative world of travelling heroes and religious figures with the lives of individuals ranging from Java's princely exiles and their descendants to Malay soldiers in colonial armies, Banishment and Belonging is a true tour de force.'

Barbara Watson Andaya - University of Hawai‘i

‘Banishment and Belonging layers multiple spatial and temporal imaginings and weaves them together to show how Sri Lanka became a significant geography for Malays, and how they made sense of Sri Lanka as at once a place of arrival and of colonial exile. This is Indian Ocean and global history at its best. An endlessly absorbing read.'

Francesca Orsini - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

‘Fascinated by questions of language and belonging, Ronit Ricci's new book on the island world now known as Sri Lanka, shows how 'exile and return' took many forms in the company and colonial worlds of British South Asia and Dutch Southeast Asia. This is a brilliant and thought-provoking new work by a very distinguished scholar.'

Laurie J. Sears - Walker Family Endowed Professor, University of Washington

‘Ronit Ricci has had to work, in her own words, with 'fragments', 'echoes', and 'imagination' to compose this fascinating history of longing and belonging in colonial Asia. It is a story based in formidable scholarship, yet told with grace and empathy.’

Jonathan Spencer - Regius Professor of South Asian Language, Culture and Society, University of Edinburgh


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