Future Publications

Metallic Modern: Everyday Machines in Colonial Sri Lanka

By Nira Wickramasinghe

Everyday life in the Crown colony of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was characterized by a direct encounter of people with modernity through the consumption and use of foreign machines – in particular, the Singer sewing machine, but also the gramophone, tramway, bicycle and varieties of industrial equipment. The ‘metallic modern’ of the 19th and early 20th century Ceylon encompassed multiple worlds of belonging and imagination; and enabled diverse conceptions of time to coexist through encounters with Siam, the United States and Japan as well as a new conception of urban space in Colombo. Metallic Modern describes the modern as it was lived and experienced by non-elite groups – tailors, seamstresses, shopkeepers, workers – and suggests that their idea of the modern was nurtured by a changing material world.

The book was first published by Berghahan Books in 2014 and will be Published by TAP in 2023 with permission from Berghahan for distribution in Sri Lanka.







Nira Wickramasinghe is Professor and Chair of Modern South Asian  Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her most recent books are Slave in a Palanquin: Colonial Servitude and Resistance in Sri Lanka (New York: Columbia University Press 2020) and Sri Lanka in the Modern Age. A History (New York: Oxford University Press 2015)

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