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Title: Domestic architecture of the Sinhalese elite in the age of nationalism
Author: Wijetunge, M. N. R.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2012
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Domestic architecture of the Sinhalese elites in Sri Lanka remained as unchartered territory until recently. Having focused on the period of nationalism, which indeed is an area in oblivion (both historically and architecturally), this research established that the elite are in a position to better represent/evoke the shifting political/social/cultural forces (i.e. periodic changes) through their architecture within the Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) society. This was the foremost research question tackled. Moreover, the works of the architects Geoffrey Bawa and Valentine Gunasekara were singled-out for being two most varying trajectories aimed at the elite; the background study of post-independence architecture having led the way. How they represented the aspirations of two differing elite groups - the 'governing elite' and the 'political-class' - was then confirmed having placed them against the extant elitist theories. Moreover, the cultural strands of the Ceylonese elite to survive from pre-colonial and colonial situations were identified, and how the articulations became evident in their domestic architectures was assessed through case studies. On the other hand, as broader aims, the applicability of the outcome of the main research question to contexts other than Sri Lanka, communities other than the Sinhalese, or time periods that draw their meanings for being historically/architecturally significant, were established. Other than the foregoing unique contributions to knowledge, the enquiry into the area of elitism was significant. While Western theories on elitism were considered to determine the most apposite, the under-studied sphere of Eastern elitism was tackled in its pre-modern and modern conditions in order to assess social stratifications for the periods in question - Kandyan, Dutch, British and post-independence. Based on social structures of these periods, their elitist positions were envisaged and domestic architectures identified for the results to be presented as a structural analysis. Within this process, more delicate differences such as typologies and phases were revealed, and included in a supplementary catalogue with a repository of new knowledge for future research to dwell on. Moreover, narration of the entire historical spectrum of the island's elite domestic architecture is noteworthy as an original exploration. Optimistically, the imperative findings of this study would open up paths for future researchers in the field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available