I think Dr. Sperling and Dr. Venturi are correct in saying we need to be clear when we use the word ‘modern’ in Tibetan studies. However, in such an engagement, following Dr. Vitali’s warnings, we also need to be careful we do not reproduce the same problems in reifying notions of ‘tradition,’ and assumptions of cultures as belonging on a singular (Euro-American) evolutionary trajectory that is assumed under the banner of the singular modern. This is the same critique that has been launched against academia in general for over 70 years, and something Tibetan studies has only recently begun to consider.
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.