Although MacDonald’s tone is one of good intention and conviction to tell the hardships and stigmas that newcomers from Tibet face in McLeod-Dharmsala, my main problem with her book was that she decides to choose sides: she favors newcomers over exile Tibetans, and even further makes exile Tibetans, whom she calls “settlers,” the villains. Choosing a side requires categorizing the two groups as single entities at odds with each other. This doesn’t allow room for complexities within and between the group, and also ignores complexities that create tensions between the groups in the first place.
In the past few years, an unprecedented number of Tibetans have chosen to drink kerosene and light themselves on fire. What are self-immolations about? They are often framed as protest by the popular media, but is that all they are? Self-immolations are deeply complex, and involve layer upon layers of meaning that need to be considered. In the following, one of the ways I interpret them is by considering the self-immolations as producing historical narratives of Tibet that counter China’s hegemonic narrative on, and current political control of Tibet.
Gyatso’s talk wasn’t necessarily on the specifics of Tibetan medicine, she explores the social, cultural and political climate of the time frame she covers to understand the complexities involving the Tibetan society, demonstrating, what I call, Tibetan modernities (outside of western influence).
The struggle for visibility (documents) has always played a central role for Tibetans living in exile, especially for those living in India and Nepal. In this post, I look into this struggle that Tibetans in India face as newly arrived Tibetans from Tibet (second half) and Tibetans born and raised there (first half). During my stays in Dharamsala, India, I came across several different socio-cultural-political-economic phenomenons that have been emerging as a result of the lack of visibility for Tibetans living as, what I refer to as non-refugee refugees, in bureaucratic India. In the following, I take a closer look at one of these emerging intercultural phenomenon currently shaping the possibility of existing on paper for Tibetans especially from Tibet that bureaucratic India has yet to offer.
When some members of the Lhakar Diaries family contacted me to see if I could do an interview with her, I was more than excited since I had been thinking about it for some time-it also helped that I am currently in Dharamsala. When I contacted Dhardon la, she was more than accommodating. She took some time off her busy schedule and we did a quick interview over some tea.
The following post is a section in Ch. 2 “There Is a Tension in Our Hearts” from the book Echoes from Dharamsala by Keila Diehl (2002, p57-62).
Harris brings back to life documents and images from a range of colonial archives, and includes accounts and fictions published by British officers, ethnographers, soldiers and Asia-Tibet enthusiasts of that time to piece together how the myth of the exotic Tibet-an came into existence in the West. Her analysis is based on exploring the discursive formation of how the West came to imagine Tibet and its inhabitants.
What does an ethnographic discourse on the invisibility of a colonial empire in the 21st century look like? What does that invisibility contribute to, or rather take away from, the experiences of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet? In this post, I examine the historical and contemporary discourses on Tibet that frame Tibet as either not colonized or about human rights, which, I argue, silences Tibetan aspirations for Nationhood. Aside from contextualizing Tibetan subjectivities, I contribute to the ongoing discourse on how ethnographic narratives can re-construct the invisibility of existing colonial empires and justify their presence as a given right rather than foreign.
For the past month, as the number of self-immolations climbed, my adviser and I sat down several times, trying to figure out activities we can do to highlight the situation better here at the University I’m currently studying at. Then last week, I saw the video campaign with messages to world leaders launched by SFT spreading in the web-sphere.
Ben Hillman–a Senior Lecturer at the Crawford School of public policy, Australian National University–wrote an article called “China’s many Tibets: Diqing as a model for ‘development with Tibetan characteristics?’” (2010). He details the economic success, through the government-funded tourist industry, of Shangri-La, a Tibetan town in Kham, as a model that the Chinese authorities can follow for “China’s many other Tibets”. However, in his eager attempt to support his argument for Shangri-La as a successful model, Hillman fails to acknowledge China’s historical role in that region, the popular resistance that occurred before and during the time period he covers, or further analysis of local involvement in the tourist industry.