A Material Inquiry into Paths of Peaceful co-Existence and Interethnic Harmony in Late Antiquity in Sri Lanka

Sandunika Hasangani, Shyamika Jayasundara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This research paper explores how the ancient Silk Road facilitated cultivating a culture of accommodation, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence in Sri Lanka via the foreign medical practice of Unani, which was introduced by the Arab merchants, in the first century B.C. Since the 1960s, Unani has been integrated as one of the four pillars of Sri Lanka’s traditional medicine. This indigenization process of a foreign medicinal practice in a nation where its political history is marred by violence against the perceived ‘outsiders’ presents an intriguing phenomenon. While the dominant discourse on migration and mobilities often evokes discord and conflict, we aim to interject this dominant narrative by tracing Unani’s global and local roots and extrapolate its material agency in reviving a new discourse on peacebuilding in post-civil war Sri Lanka. By examining historical and archaeological material data and narratives collected from current and ancestral Unani practitioners on the island, our study concludes the role of mobilities of people, ideas and things via the ancient Silk Road has been facilitating a culture of acceptance, accommodation, and peaceful co-existence between native population and their ‘non-native other’ in late antiquity in Sri Lanka. We hope our study can inspire new visions of a peaceful future in postwar Sri Lanka.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPeace Review
Early online date2 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by UNESCO through the framework of the UNESCO Silk Roads Youth Research Grant 2022-23.

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