Serena De Marchi, PhD candidate, Stockholm University
Political prison literature of China: analyzing the authors' different re-constructions of the prisonscape.
My research seeks to investigate the articulations of the prisonscape in the writings of selected Chinese authors. The point of departure is the study of the evolution of Chinese prisons and the Chinese penal system, that will provide the historical framework; while in the analysis of the literature, I rely on existing studies on the aesthetics of political prison camp writings (William & Wu, 2004), as well as on trauma studies. The idea is to build a very comprehensive definition of the "prisonscape" that will allow me to analyze and compare the works of different writers, both from mainland China and exiled dissidents. The main research questions is: how can a physical place associated with pain, fear and death eventually become a literary space of survival, witnessing and (in some cases) dissidence?
Guri Strand Karlsen, MA student, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
The role and development of the multi-religious Kataragama sacred area
My thesis is focused on understanding why certain religious places in Sri Lanka are recognized as more sacred than others. This will be done by comparing the multi-religious Kataragama shrine and temple with similar shrines in Kotabowa and Kandy, and by looking into the development of the place over time. In order to do this I pay special attention to the changes after the Civil war of 2009, when considering both the ethnic and religious boundaries. By using theory on the concept of place from a cultural geography perspective I intend to investigate the different claims to this holy area and how this interacts with its heritage. This is a complex issue as the Kataragama sacred area is a site of pilgrimage for not only the majority religion Buddhism but also by Hindus, Muslims and Christians, as well as the indigenous Vedda during the annual festival celebrating the deity Kataragama’s marriage.