Reimagining the cosmopolitanism of Sri Lanka through cultural artefacts

The obstacles occurring in global cultural flows due to the COVID-19 pandemic disclose the unpredictable and inconsistent nature of the globalisation.

The congestions of the mobility of people are forging new dialogues with their nation-states. In turn, nation-states are seeking to secure their economic position while strengthening national-ism. The newly emerged circumstances of the interrelationships of the global and the local signify the potential for new networks. Drawing on Arjun Appadurai’s reimagining of cosmopolitanism as a move beyond the insularity and exclusions prompted by cultural difference this paper focusses on Sri Lanka as one context that is confronting a recent decline in cosmopolitanism due to the civil unrest since independence in 1948. To rebuild the cosmopolitanism of the different cultures that make up Sri Lanka the paper explores the early cosmopolitanism of historical Sri Lanka through traditional jewellery artefacts, with a specific focus on traditional Sri Lankan bridal regalia. As a resource for future generations to reimagine the history of cosmopolitanism in Sri Lanka the paper discusses my practice-based methodology of annotated visual documentation of the cosmopolitan craft traditions embodied in the traditional ico-nography of the bridal regalia. The purpose of the research to reimagine and renew cosmopolitanism through an inter-cultural dialogue based on a rich craft heritage responds to Sri Lankan cosmopolitanism in a context that continuously shaped by the dynamics of globalisation.

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