In the 1950s, thousands of ordinary Tibetans rose up to defend their country and religion against Chinese troops. Their citizen army fought through 1974 with covert support from the Tibetan exile government and the governments of India, Nepal, and the United States. Decades later, the story of this resistance is only beginning to be told and has not yet entered the annals of Tibetan national history. In Arrested Histories, the anthropologist and historian Carole McGranahan shows how and why histories of this resistance army are “arrested” and explains the ensuing repercussions for the Tibetan refugee community.
Drawing on rich ethnographic and historical research, McGranahan tells the story of the Tibetan resistance and the social processes through which this history is made and unmade, and lived and forgotten in the present. Fulfillment of veterans’ desire for recognition hinges on the Dalai Lama and “historical arrest,” a practice in which the telling of certain pasts is suspended until an undetermined time in the future. In this analysis, struggles over history emerge as a profound pain of belonging. Tibetan cultural politics, regional identities, and religious commitments cannot be disentangled from imperial histories, contemporary geopolitics, and romanticized representations of Tibet. Moving deftly from armed struggle to nonviolent hunger strikes, and from diplomatic offices to refugee camps, Arrested Histories provides powerful insights into the stakes of political engagement and the cultural contradictions of everyday life.
As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of China’s 1959 invasion of Tibet—and the subsequent creation of the Tibetan exile community—the question of the diaspora’s survival looms large. Beijing’s foreign policy has grown more adventurous, particularly since the post-Olympic expansion of 2008. As the pressure mounts, Tibetan refugee families that have made their homes outside China—in the mountains of Nepal, the jungles of India, or the cold concrete houses high above the Dalai Lama’s monastery in Dharamsala—are migrating once again. Blessings from Beijing untangles the chains that tie Tibetans to China and examines the political, social, and economic pressures that are threatening to destroy Tibet’s refugee communities. Journalist Greg Bruno has spent nearly two decades living and working in Tibetan areas. Bruno journeys to the front lines of this fight: to the high Himalayas of Nepal, where Chinese agents pay off Nepali villagers to inform on Tibetan asylum seekers; to the monasteries of southern India, where pro-China monks wish the Dalai Lama dead; to Asia’s meditation caves, where lost souls ponder the fine line between love and war; and to the streets of New York City, where the next generation of refugees strategizes about how to survive China’s relentless assault. But Bruno’s reporting does not stop at well-worn tales of Chinese meddling and political intervention. It goes beyond them—and within them—to explore how China’s strategy is changing the Tibetan exile community forever.
In a remote Himalayan village in 1721, the Jesuit priest Ippolito Desideri awaited permission from Rome to continue his mission to convert the Tibetan people to Christianity. In the meantime, he forged ahead with an ambitious project: a treatise, written in classical Tibetan, that would refute key Buddhist doctrines. If he could convince the Buddhist monks that these doctrines were false, thought Desideri, he would dispel the darkness of idolatry from Tibet.
Offering a fascinating glimpse into the historical encounter between Christianity and Buddhism, Dispelling the Darkness brings Desideri’s Tibetan writings to readers of English for the first time. This authoritative study provides extended excerpts from Inquiry concerning the Doctrines of Previous Lives and Emptiness, Desideri’s unfinished masterpiece, as well as a full translation of Essence of the Christian Religion, a companion work that broadens his refutation of Buddhism. Desideri possessed an unusually sophisticated understanding of Buddhism and a masterful command of the classical Tibetan language. He believed that only careful argumentation could demolish the philosophical foundations of Buddhism, especially the doctrines of rebirth and emptiness that prevented belief in the existence of God. Donald Lopez and Thupten Jinpa’s detailed commentary reveals how Desideri deftly used Tibetan literary conventions and passages from Buddhist scriptures to make his case.
When the Vatican refused Desideri’s petition, he returned to Rome, his manuscripts in tow, where they languished unread in archives. Dispelling the Darkness brings these vital texts to light after centuries of neglect.
In the past two decades, scholars have transformed our understanding of the interactions between India and the West since the consolidation of British power on the subcontinent around 1800. While acknowledging the merits of this scholarship, Sheldon Pollock argues that knowing how colonialism changed South Asian cultures, particularly how Western modes of thought became dominant, requires knowing what was there to be changed. Yet little is known about the history of knowledge and imagination in late precolonial South Asia, about what systematic forms of thought existed, how they worked, or who produced them. This pioneering collection of essays helps to rectify this situation by addressing the ways thinkers in India and Tibet responded to a rapidly changing world in the three centuries prior to 1800. Contributors examine new forms of communication and conceptions of power that developed across the subcontinent; changing modes of literary consciousness, practices, and institutions in north India; unprecedented engagements in comparative religion, autobiography, and ethnography in the Indo-Persian sphere; and new directions in disciplinarity, medicine, and geography in Tibet. Taken together, the essays in Forms of Knowledge in Early Modern Asia inaugurate the exploration of a particularly complex intellectual terrain, while gesturing toward distinctive forms of non-Western modernity.
Contributors. Muzaffar Alam, Imre Bangha, Aditya Behl, Allison Busch, Sumit Guha, Janet Gyatso, Matthew T. Kapstein, Françoise Mallison, Sheldon Pollock, Velcheru Narayana Rao, Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Sunil Sharma, David Shulman, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi
Geopolitical Exotica examines exoticized Western representations of Tibet and Tibetans and the debate over that land’s status with regard to China. Concentrating on specific cultural images of the twentieth century—promulgated by novels, popular films, travelogues, and memoirs—Dibyesh Anand lays bare the strategies by which “Exotica Tibet” and “Tibetanness” have been constructed, and he investigates the impact these constructions have had on those who are being represented.
Although images of Tibet have excited the popular imagination in the West for many years, Geopolitical Exotica is the first book to explore representational practices within the study of international relations. Anand challenges the parochial practices of current mainstream international relations theory and practice, claiming that the discipline remains mostly Western in its orientation. His analysis of Tibet’s status with regard to China scrutinizes the vocabulary afforded by conventional international relations theory and considers issues that until now have been undertheorized in relation to Tibet, including imperialism, history, diaspora, representation, and identity.
In this masterfully synthetic work, Anand establishes that postcoloniality provides new insights into themes of representation and identity and demonstrates how IR as a discipline can meaningfully expand its focus beyond the West.
Dibyesh Anand is a reader in international relations at the University of Westminster, London.
A Historical Atlas of Tibet
Karl E. Ryavec University of Chicago Press, 2015 Library of Congress G2308.T5R9 2015 | Dewey Decimal 911.515
Cradled among the world’s highest mountains—and sheltering one of its most devout religious communities—Tibet is, for many of us, an ultimate destination, a place that touches the heavens, a place only barely in our world, at its very end. In recent decades Western fascination with Tibet has soared, from the rise of Tibetan studies in academia to the rock concerts aimed at supporting its independence to the simple fact that most of us—far from any base camp—know exactly what a sherpa is. And yet any sustained look into Tibet as a place, any attempt to find one’s way around its high plateaus and through its deep history, will yield this surprising fact: we have barely mapped it. With this atlas, Karl E. Ryavec rights that wrong, sweeping aside the image of Tibet as Shangri-La and putting in its place a comprehensive vision of the region as it really is, a civilization in its own right. And the results are absolutely stunning.
The product of twelve years of research and eight more of mapmaking, A Historical Atlas of Tibet documents cultural and religious sites across the Tibetan Plateau and its bordering regions from the Paleolithic and Neolithic times all the way up to today. It ranges through the five main periods in Tibetan history, offering introductory maps of each followed by details of western, central, and eastern regions. It beautifully visualizes the history of Tibetan Buddhism, tracing its spread throughout Asia, with thousands of temples mapped, both within Tibet and across North China and Mongolia, all the way to Beijing. There are maps of major polities and their territorial administrations, as well as of the kingdoms of Guge and Purang in western Tibet, and of Derge and Nangchen in Kham. There are town plans of Lhasa and maps that focus on history and language, on population, natural resources, and contemporary politics.
Extraordinarily comprehensive and absolutely gorgeous, this overdue volume will be a cornerstone in cartography, Asian studies, Buddhist studies, and in the libraries or on the coffee tables of anyone who has ever felt the draw of the landscapes, people, and cultures of the highest place on Earth.
The Dalai Lama has said that Tibetans consider themselves “the child of Indian civilization” and that India is the “holy land” from whose sources the Tibetans have built their own civilization. What explains this powerful allegiance to India? In The Holy Land Reborn¸ Toni Huber investigates how Tibetans have maintained a ritual relationship to India, particularly by way of pilgrimage, and what it means for them to consider India as their holy land.
Focusing on the Tibetan creation and recreation of India as a destination, a landscape, and a kind of other, in both real and idealized terms, Huber explores how Tibetans have used the idea of India as a religious territory and a sacred geography in the development of their own religion and society. In a timely closing chapter, Huber also takes up the meaning of India for the Tibetans who live in exile in their Buddhist holy land.
A major contribution to the study of Buddhism, The Holy Land Reborn describes changes in Tibetan constructs of India over the centuries, ultimately challenging largely static views of the sacred geography of Buddhism in India.
Taking the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet in 1959 as its starting point, this book offers a unique interpretation of the ways in which the idea of Tibet has been imagined by Tibetan artists in exile in India and in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Based on the results of six years of fieldwork, during which Clare Harris interviewed and photographed Tibetan artists at work, this book shows how Tibet – real, remembered and imagined – came to be envisioned anew.
Magnificent and mysterious, Tibet has been a source of fascination for outsiders for centuries, and its grand landscapes and vibrant culture have especially captivated photographers. But the country is both geographically and politically challenging, and access from the outside has never been easy. With this book, Clare Harris offers the first historical survey of photography in Tibet and the Himalayas, telling the intriguing stories of both Tibetans and foreigners who have attempted to document the region’s wonders on film.
Harris combines extensive research in museums and archives with her own fieldwork in Tibetan communities to present materials that have never been examined before—including the earliest known photograph taken in Tibet, dating to 1863. She looks at the experimental camera-work of Tibetan monks—including the thirteenth Dalai Lama—and the creations of contemporary Tibetan photographers and artists. With every image she explores the complex religious, political, and cultural climate in which it was produced. Stunningly illustrated, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the dramatic history of Tibet since the mid-nineteenth century and its unique entanglements with aesthetics and modernity.
Prisoners of Shangri-La is a provocative analysis of the romance of Tibet, a romance that, even as it is invoked by Tibetan lamas living in exile, ultimately imprisons those who seek the goal of Tibetan independence from Chinese occupation.
"Lopez lifts the veil on America's romantic vision of Tibet to reveal a country and a spiritual history more complex and less ideal than popular perceptions allow. . . . Lively and engaging, Lopez's book raises important questions about how Eastern religions are often co-opted, assimilated and misunderstood by Western culture."—Publishers Weekly
"Proceeding with care and precision, Lopez reveals the extent to which scholars have behaved like intellectual colonialists. . . . Someone had to burst the bubble of pop Tibetology, and few could have done it as resoundingly as Lopez."—Booklist
"Fascinating. . . [A] provocative exploration. Lopez conveys the full dizziness of the Western encounter with Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism."—Fred Pheil, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
"A timely and courageous exploration. . . . [Lopez's] book will sharpen the terms of the debate over what the Tibetans and their observers can or should be doing about the place and the idea of Tibet. And that alone is what will give us all back our Shambhala."—Jonathan Spence, Lingua Franca Book Review
"Lopez's most important theme is that we should be wary of the idea . . . that Tibet has what the West lacks, that if we were only to look there we would find the answers to our problems. Lopez's book shows that, on the contrary, when the West has looked at Tibet, all that it has seen is a distorted reflection of itself."—Ben Jackson, Times Higher Education Supplement
The history of Tibet has long intrigued the world, and so has the dilemma of its future—will it ever return to independence or will it always remain part of China? How will the succession of the aging and revered Dalai Lama affect Tibet and the world? This book makes the case for a fully Tibetan independent state for much of its 2,500-year existence, but its story is a complex one. A great empire from the seventh to ninth centuries, in 1249, Tibet was incorporated as a territory of the Mongol Empire—which annexed China itself in 1279. Tibet reclaimed its independence from China in 1368, and although the Manchus later exerted their direct influence in Tibetan affairs, by 1840 Tibet began to resume its independent course until communist China invaded in 1950. And since that time, Tibetan nationalism has been maintained primarily by over 100,000 refugees living abroad. This book is a valuable, fascinating account of a region with a rich history, but an uncertain future.
Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959
Jianglin Li Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress DS786.L4619213 2016 | Dewey Decimal 951.5055
The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident—the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989—is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.
Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened in those fate-filled days and why. Her story begins with throngs of Tibetan demonstrators who—fearful that Chinese authorities were planning to abduct the Dalai Lama, their beloved leader—formed a protective ring around his palace. On the night of March 17, he fled in disguise, only to reemerge in India weeks later to set up a government in exile. But no peaceful resolution awaited Tibet. The Chinese army soon began shelling Lhasa, inflicting thousands of casualties and ravaging heritage sites in the bombardment and the infantry onslaught that followed. Unable to resist this show of force, the Tibetans capitulated, putting Mao Zedong in a position to fulfill his long-cherished dream of bringing Tibet under the Communist yoke.
Li’s extensive investigation, including eyewitness interviews and examination of classified government records, tells a gripping story of a crisis whose aftershocks continue to rattle the region today.
Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics: Toward a Union of Love and Knowledge addresses the complex issues of dialogue and collaboration between Buddhism and science, revealing connections and differences between the two. While assuming no technical background in Buddhism or physics, this book strongly responds to the Dalai Lama’s “heartfelt plea” for genuine collaboration between science and Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has written a foreword to the book and the Office of His Holiness will translate it into both Chinese and Tibetan.
In a clear and engaging way, this book shows how the principle of emptiness, the philosophic heart of Tibetan Buddhism, connects intimately to quantum nonlocality and other foundational features of quantum mechanics. Detailed connections between emptiness, modern relativity, and the nature of time are also explored. For Tibetan Buddhists, the profound interconnectedness implied by emptiness demands the practice of universal compassion. Because of the powerful connections between emptiness and modern physics, the book argues that the interconnected worldview of modern physics also encourages universal compassion. Along with these harmonies, the book explores a significant conflict between quantum mechanics and Tibetan Buddhism concerning the role of causality.
The book concludes with a response to the question: "How does this expedition through the heart of modern physics and Tibetan Buddhism—from quantum mechanics, relativity, and cosmology, to emptiness, compassion, and disintegratedness—apply to today's painfully polarized world?" Despite differences and questions raised, the book's central message is that there is a solid basis for uniting these worldviews. From this basis, the message of universal compassion can accompany the spread of the scientific worldview, stimulating compassionate action in the light of deep understanding—a true union of love and knowledge.
Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics will appeal to a broad audience that includes general readers and undergraduate and graduate students in science and religion courses.
When the demand for, and prices of caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis, ‘the Himalayan Viagra’, long a part of traditional Chinese medicine) soared, the pastoralists of Golok on the Tibetan plateau where the fungus is endemic dug up, dried and sold the fungus to traders. In the process, these yak and sheep farmers, used to living on the edge of subsistence, became wealthy beyond their imagination. *Trading Caterpillar Fungus in Tibet: When Economic Boom Hits Rural Area* tells the story of what they do with the money they earned from gathering and trading caterpillar fungus, and what this money does to them, revealing a sophistication few outsiders would credit them for.