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Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka (Hardback)
  • Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka (Hardback)
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Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka (Hardback)

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£87.00
Hardback 336 Pages / Published: 07/03/2013
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Stephen C. Berkwitz's Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism examines five works by a single poet to demonstrate how Buddhism in Sri Lanka was shaped and transformed by encounters with Portuguese colonizers and missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By following the written works of Alagiyavanna Mukaveti (1552-1625?) from the court of a powerful Sinhala king through the cultural upheavals of warfare and Christian missions and finally to his eventual conversion to Catholicism and employment under the Portuguese Crown, this book uses the poetry of a single author to reflect upon how Sinhala verse fashioned new visions of power and religious identity when many of the traditional Buddhist institutions were in retreat. Berkwitz traces the development of Alagiyavanna's poetry as a medium for celebrating the fame of rulers, devotion to the Buddha and his Dharma, morality and truth in the Buddha's religion, and the glories of Portuguese rule in Sri Lanka. Employing an interdisciplinary approach that combines Buddhist Studies, History, Literary Criticism, and Postcolonial Studies, the author constructs a picture of the effects of colonialism on Buddhist literature and culture at an early juncture in the history of the encounter between Asia and Europe.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780199935765
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 602 g
Dimensions: 239 x 161 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This is a valuable complement to our understanding of Sri Lanka's experience of the first wave of European imperialism. Berkwitz's analysis of the poems of Alagiyavanna offers English-readers a rare glimpse of a Sinhalese perspective on this fascinating and turbulent period in Sri Lankan history, and the corresponding shifts in sensibility the poet must undergo as the political and religious landscape alters around him. * Alan Strathern, Tutorial Fellow and University Lecturer in History, Brasenose College, Oxford *
Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism is a work of prodigious scholarship. With close readings of much neglected works of Alagiyavanna, Berkwitz takes us to a world of poetic 'expression' and embodiment of what it means to be Buddhist during the Portuguese colonial rule in Sri Lanka. Beyond a 'critique' of colonialism or emphasis on native 'agency,' the work complicates the stories about religion and modernity available in postcolonial literature. * Ananda Abeysekara, author of Politics of Postsecular Religion: Mourning Secular Futures *

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