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Shoreline Submission

May 1, 2018

I need a change!

Filed under: Uncategorized — irajdealwis @ 2:19 am


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In the closing lectures of the class Prof. Asani turned to the struggles that modernity, colonialism and western presence churned in Islamic countries. While we discussed the history of colonialism, reformist programs and nationalism, I feel we left one of the most pertinent and ongoing forms of modernity undiscussed: tourism. People of all skin colours who have left their local settings and cultures, and migrated to cities and middle class lives, often travel through the mode of a tourist. The main purpose of travel is not a journey of change, a pursuit, or a pilgrimage, but a consumptive trip of eating, ogling and laying about. I found a French tourist advertisement of the 1980s, a map of Sri Lanka annotated by a tourist remembering the best places to eat and lounge, and overlaid it with an important pilgrimage route for Sri Lankan Muslims. The pilgrimage begins at the Shrine of Sheikh Osman Waillullah Sahib in Colombo, proceeds to the White Mosque in Beruwala, then to the cave where Sheikh Muhiyadeen Abdul Qadir Jilani is believed to have meditated on a pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak, and finally the Shrine of Pal Kudi Bawa who welcomed Al-Kidzr to the island. A pilgrimage, much like the one described in the Conference of the Birds, promises a journey that is more enriching than one of mindless consumption. I have participated in both forms of travel, and have seen the damage that tourism has wrecked in many sacred places, and by overlaying these two modes of travel I wanted to highlight the stark difference between them. I wanted a single image that could evoke both feelings and force the viewer to compare the difference.


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