Sri Lankan Fulbright Scholar delivers impressive lecture
Last night, Dr. Devi Widyalankara delivered an impressive lecture on what she called the “silent revolution” of popular taste in domestic architecture in Sri Lanka following that country’s independence in 1948 from over 500 years of colonial rule. In defiance of state policy between 1950 and 1977, when the socialist Sri Lankan government minimized ties with the United States, Sri Lankan citizens and their builders proudly built “American-style” houses to articulate their modern identity. Following the shift in government in 1977 towards an open economy with strong government ties to the U.S., popular taste turned away from American models towards sources of inspiration drawn from a variety of international and traditional architectural forms. The lesson to be learned, she argued, was that popular taste and desires will always trump official state policy. Dr. Widyalankara is a visiting Fulbright Scholar in our department of Architectural History conducting research on the American domestic architecture. Her lecture was the first in this year’s Architectural History Annual Lecture Series.