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Kingsley Martin Memorial Lecture: Professor Jonathan Spencer

When Apr 27, 2016
from 05:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where The Winstanley Lecture Hall, Trinity College, Cambridge
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Centre of South Asian Studies

Kingsley Martin Memorial Lecture

Professor Jonathan Spencer (University of Edinburgh)

Three scenes from rural life: Cambridge to Colombo and back again, 1954 to 2016

Professor Jonathan SpencerI start from a moment in the 1950s when a small group of Cambridge researchers – Edmund Leach, Ben Farmer and Nur Yalman, followed soon after by Stanley Tambiah and Gananath Obeyesekere - initiated a conversation, fuelled by bouts of intense fieldwork, about land, kinship and social order in rural Sri Lanka. In my second scene, from the early 1980s, a new generation of researchers returned to the same questions, but in a landscape increasingly shaped by nationalist imaginings of the rural. In my final scene, the rural has become synonymous with poverty and its pathological consequences – self-harm and suicide, alcohol abuse and violence. What links these scenes, and what will become the subject-matter for this lecture is, in Raymond Williams’ words, “a problem of perspective”.


There will be a reception held afterwards.