Written by Jekonia Tarigan
In the social sciences, specifically related to Asia, there has long been a distinction between South Asian Studies and Southeast Asian Studies. However, there is a link between the two, the small, Indian Ocean Island known through history as Sarandib, Lanka, and Ceylon. This island was a site of banishment throughout the 18th century for members of royal families, convicts, servants, and others sent there from across the Indonesian archipelago. Descendants of these exiles who remained on the island continued to speak and write in Malay, the archipelago’s lingua franca, and to adhere to a collective Muslim identity for several centuries and into the present. Ronit Ricci’s research examines if and how earlier religious and literary traditions of banishment tied to the island, those of Adam’s fall from paradise to Sarandib and Sinta’s abduction to Lanka, played a role in the lives of the early exiles and their descendants. [i] Ricci presented her findings in Wednesday Forum, a weekly discussion forum hosted by the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) and the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies (CRCS) on April 26, 2022. Ricci is a lecturer in the departments of Asian Studies and Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Since 2013, she has been developing Indonesian Studies at the Hebrew University, the only Israeli university to offer this field of study. Her research interests include manuscript cultures of Javanese and Malay, translation studies, and Islamic literature from South and Southeast Asia.