Underestimated Sonam Peldren: A Nomad who was Dorje Pakmo

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Sonam Peldren was a religious figure from fourteenth-century Tibet. She was the daughter of a nomad. She had no special status, nor had she been trained or recognized by religious authorities during her time alive. She was recorded as not having received formal education and being illiterate. Yet, following her death, she became recognized in her community as the emanation of Dorje Pakmo. Like Tare Lhamo, Sonam Peldren lacked the social standing through which she could affirm her religious identity. However, despite such lack in status, Sonam Peldren is affirmed following her death through the efforts of her spiritual community.

Samding Dorje Phagmo: The First Tibetan Woman to Begin her own Lineage

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Samding Dorje Phagmo is the first lineage that was initiated and led by a Tibetan woman named Chokyi Dronma in fifteen century Tibet (2007: 1). This lineage continues to exist in present day Tibet. “She was listed among the highest-ranking reincarnation at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, and recognized by the Tibetan government and acknowledged by the Qing emperor” writes Hildegard Diemberger. Thus, engaging this historic figure becomes important in situating Tibetan religious approaches to gender.

Lhasa Ballers: A Conversation with Tenzin Wangchuk, Founder of New Clothing Line, Union of Prophets

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Tenzin Wangchuk, A.K.A. Exiled Prophet, is a New York based Tibetan rapper and creative force behind the newly released clothing line, Union of Prophets. I sat down with Wangchuk recently to discuss his transition from rapper to designer. We met for dinner in Jackson Heights, at one of my favorite restaurants, Little Tibet, and discussed everything from the origins of American Hip Hop and it’s universal themes, his aspirations as a designer and activist, to addressing his concerns about the appropriation of Hip Hop and Black culture.

Tare Lhamo and Namtrul Rinpoche: Courtship & Healing in times of (Culture Revolution) Degeneration

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As discussed in previous chapters of Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet, Holly Gayley stresses how Tare Lhamo and Namtrul Rinpoche saw their religious engagement and activities in tandem with reviving Tibetan Buddhist culture following the destruction of the Chinese-led Culture Revolution.Before Tare Lhamo and Namtrul Rinpoche began their activities in reviving Tibetan Buddhism during the 1980s and 1990s together as a tantric couple, they began their official courtship through letters in the 1970s. These letters from the 1970s played a crucial role, argues Gayley, in shaping the couple’s future activities that came to fruition later. The following chapters engage these letters closely to consider how the couple came to view one another and their future together as a tantric couple through Indigenous and Buddhist idiom.

Life Sentence

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[Guest poem by ‘Just Another Tenzin] Life sentence The purpose of language is to communicate But so much gets lost in translation and we just hate Each other and this broken tie to… Continue reading

The Exceptional Tare Lhamo: Transcending Gender Through Agentive Means

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This is a continuation of my project to engage historic female figures of Tibet. Tare Lhamo is especially interesting because she was born before China’s invasion of Tibet, she lived through the invasion, followed by Culture Revolution until its end, and was part of the religious cohort in Tibet who began reviving Tibetan Buddhism from the destruction of Culture Revolution. She becomes an important figure to consider when we think about different subjectivities of Tibetan women in Tibetan history. I hope you’ll find the following analysis useful.

The Othered Tibetan Stories

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Throughout history, too many people have made assumptions about what it means to be woman and what it means to be Tibetan. They have been the most privileged members of our society; those with access to pen and prestige and they have continuously made an ass out of me, you, and them. I don’t want to continue that legacy.

Familiar Heartbreaks: Review of McGranahan’s “Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War”

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Carole McGranahan’s Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War is an ethnography of heartbreak (2010). A heartbreak that began with the loss of Tibet. Every time I read this book, I am reminded of people from my childhood who were of the generation that was raised in Tibet but later died in exile. The same people who would share stories of Tibet prior to its invasion. These stories often began with joy, but would end abruptly with sadness—a sadness I did not understand as a child, but was taught about and grew familiar with as I grew older. This sadness, heartbreak, is captured and historicized in this book.

Decolonizing Ethnographic ‘Responsibility’: Towards a Decolonized Praxis

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what happens when the question of responsibility becomes one of obligation; choice becomes necessity, and crisis exists as an everyday reality?

Tibetan Refugees & the Negotiation of Relatedness: Semi-Orphans of the 1960s & 1990s

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During exile’s initial construction, orphaned and semi-orphaned Tibetan refugees from the 1960s promoted and practiced terms of relatedness at refugee schools that were fairly open. However, the desire to construct biological family outside refugee schools to safeguard vulnerable conditions of exile caused the terms of relatedness to narrow by the time semi-orphan children from Tibet arrived in the 1990s. What caused such a shift? What happens when a group desires forms of relatedness not contingent on the construction of a family?