Tibetan Studies Internet Newsletter



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Tibetan Studies Internet Newsletter
Vol. 2, #3
December, 2002

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Published by The Center for Research on Tibet 
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA
Melvyn C. Goldstein, Director

Compiled and Edited by Melvyn C. Goldstein

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Contents:

I. Websites and collections
II. New Dissertations


I. Websites and Collections

Check out the following websites:
1. http://www.south-asia.com/icimod/apmn/main.html.
The website of the Mountain Forum. "Mountains make up one fifth of the Earth's landscape and are home to at least 10 per cent of the world's population. Mountain peoples, in their sloping islands of human and natural variety, have become the guardians of irreplaceable global assets. At least half of humanity depends on mountain watersheds for their supplies of fresh water. For more than 1 billion people, mountains are sacred places.

All over the world, expanding economic pressures are degrading mountain ecosystems while confronting mountain peoples with increasing poverty, cultural assimilation, and political disempowerment. As a part of a global movement to increase the focus of sustainable development on mountain areas within the framework of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, "Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development," a series of consultations took place between March 1994 and September 1995, culminating in the establishment of the Mountain Forum. The Organizing Committee of the Mountain Forum is a tripartite consortium consisting of the Mountain Institute in West Virginia, the International Potato Centre in Lima, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu.

The Mountain Forum is an integrative, participatory, and cross-cutting network of mountain people, professionals, and organizations. It seeks to catalyse global action towards equitable and ecologically-sustainable mountain development by providing a forum for mutual support and for the exchange of ideas and experiences. By understanding and building on our strengths as a community, innovative partnerships can emerge to implement the Mountain Agenda. As a link between people, the Forum is committed to an open constituency and to democratic, decentralised, and flexible operations.”

2. http://himalaya.pagina.nl/ Contains a list of many Himalayan-Tibet-China websites.

3. http://www.tibetheritagefund.org/ A web site concerned with cultural preservation in Lhasa.

4. http://www.kotan.org/tibet/directory/index.html The Website of the Tibetan Cultural Region Directory. It contains over 1,000 links to websites covering all matters Tibetan. From Arts and Crafts, to Culture, Religion and Travel. 21 categories in all.

5. The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center in New York City., announces a number of recent acquisitions, both book materials and digital scans. Use these hot links to view and download them. http://www.cwru.edu/affil/tibet/AL060702.pdf

II. Ph.D. Dissertations

1. Dibyesh Anand. "World politics, representation, identity: Tibet in Western popular imagination." University of Bristol, October, 2002.

Abstract

Though critical international theories have challenged mainstream International Relations (IR) on epistemological, ontological, and methodological grounds, they remain largely focused on the ‘West’. I contend that the parochial character of IR can be effectively challenged by a postcolonial IR theory based on conversations between critical international theories and the postcolonial theoretical enterprise. This approach provides new insights into themes of representation and identity. Here, I analyse the general theme of Western representations of the non-West and the specific issue of exoticised Western representations of Tibet (Exotica Tibet). I seek to theorise one crucial element of the Tibet question – Western cultural representations of Tibet and their constitutive (both enabling and constraining) and performative role in Tibetan identity discourses. Exotica Tibet is interrogated in terms of its poetics (how Tibet is represented) and its politics (what impact these representational regimes have on the identity discourses of the represented).

After a general study of the treatment of representation in international, cultural, and postcolonial studies, Exotica Tibet is framed as an Orientalist construct that shares with other ‘Orients’ various rhetorical strategies of cultural representation. The theoretical claims are substantiated with an empirical analysis of Western representations in various cultural sites during the twentieth century. This sets the stage for analysing the politics of Exotica Tibet. By examining Tibetan identity discourse (‘Tibetanness’) in the cultural and political spheres, I not only consider the productive effect of representations, but more importantly, provide new ways of theorising identity through postcolonialism-inspired symbolic geography and a discursive approach. Thus, the poetics and politics of Exotica Tibet mark a new way of enculturing political analysis and politicising cultural criticism. Postcolonial analysis contributes to the changing of IR into a discourse of empowering criticality.

2. Karl Rayavek "Land Use Change in Central Tibet, ca. 1830-2000." ISBN 0-493-61800-7. U. of Minnesota, 2002. Geography.

Abstract

This thesis investigates how GIS (Geographic Information Science) may be better integrated with the study of cultural and historical geography by examining land use change in Central Tibet over the period 1830-2000. In chapter one, key theoretical approaches in human geography and the social sciences in general are invoked to better understand how social and biophysical factors condition forms of land use and lead to distinctive land cover patterns in remote sensing imagery and digital maps. Chapter two examines the intensity of use of cultivated land in Central Tibet based on an official Tibetan land decree from 1830. Employing a newly devised GIS methodology, the approximate amount of cultivated land in each Central Tibetan district is reconstructed and compared with the corresponding patterns as of the 1990s. The third chapter presents findings from recent field research derived from interviewing a diversity of households, most notably elderly farmers who, prior to 1959, worked for a noble estate that controlled large amounts of farmland and pasture in a Central Tibetan locale. These interviews and observations were designed to illustrate the role of micro-scale human organizational and decision-making processes in relation to land use patterns that have shaped aspects of the steppe habitat and interrelate with the historical development of Central Tibetan society and culture. Chapter four examines demographic and land use/cover patterns in the field research locale as a microcosm of macro-regional patterns throughout Central Tibet based on unpublished socioeconomic data obtained from a 1990s township archive, multi-temporal coarse-resolution satellite imagery, and a recent high-resolution land cover map. These local patterns are studied to better understand how millennia of co-evolution between the environment and human activities led to the creation of distinctive Tibetan cultural landscapes. The fifth and concluding chapter presents a summary of major findings and their implications for theoretical and empirical research on how digital land cover data bases facilitate studying human-environment relations.

3. Anna Balikci. "Buddhism and Shamanism in Village Sikkim." School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London (2002). Thesis supervisor: Dr Lionel Caplan. Social Anthropology, 2002.

Abstract

This thesis contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the relationship between Buddhism and shamanism by considering their co-existence over time among the Lhopo (Bhutia) people in the now Indian state of Sikkim. It examines the working associations between Buddhist lamas and practitioners of bön in a Sikkimese village, taking into consideration the sacred history of the land as well as its more recent political and economic transformation. Their interactions are presented in terms of the contexts in which lamas and shamans meet, these being rituals of the sacred land and its resources; of the individual and household; of village and state.

The thesis suggests that while shamanic rituals among Tibetan Buddhist communities have generally disappeared under the influence of forms of Buddhism that did not support such worldly practices or have been absorbed into the hierarchy of the Buddhist monasteries, in the village many of these rites have survived into the present. Lhopo shamans have not only remained independent of the Buddhist establishment, they perform their rituals side by side with non-celibate village lamas, usually independently but on some rare occasions, jointly. The thesis argues that village lamas and shamans share a conceptual view of reality well rooted in the sacred topography and history of the land which is at the base of their amiable coexistence. So strong is this shared worldview which links the body, the territory, society and the supernatural, that village lamas and shamans in Tingchim have at times together ignored foreign high Buddhist ideas introduced in the village in recent decades.

A number of historical, political and economic developments have contributed to the endurance of the shamanic worldview in Tingchim despite a decline of shamanistic practices per se, which are now confined mainly to household rituals following the abolition of the Buddhist state in 1975. Community membership entails mandatory participation in a number of domestic rituals, the performance of which indirectly sustains the co-existence of shamanism and Buddhism at the village level. Thus, in contrast to the hostility which, the recent literature suggests, characterizes the lama-shaman relationship, their everyday association in the village suggests that the real confrontation actually occurs when village Buddhism is challenged by its higher counterpart.

4. Alderfer, Lauren. "Educators and students as leaders in language preservation (Tibet)." The Union Institute, 2001, ISBN 0-493-50778-7

Abstract

The researcher revealed that the approximately six million Tibetans living in Chinese-occupied Tibet face cultural ethnocide and that the Tibetan culture is a culture in crisis not only within the homeland but also among the approximately 134,000 refugees found around the globe. With no more than 100,000 speakers in any one place outside their homeland, the Tibetan refugee population is at risk of losing its language. Language is an intangible cultural heritage, and proverbs constitute one genre of language. Proverbs offer a glimpse into a culture's worldviews and represent the morals and values passed down from one generation to the next. When the researcher concluded that Tibetan proverbs were not found in published form she uncovered a dire need to document and preserve this genre of oral language, for it was tantamount to preserving an essential aspect of the Tibetan culture. Based on this need, the researcher designed and implemented a Teacher Education Project to preserve Tibetan proverbs through a student-centered project. The researcher hypothesized that teachers would use the Teacher Education Project as a model to design and implement future student-centered projects to preserve genres of the Tibetan language. After preliminary interviews with Tibetan Children's Village administrators and teachers and after researching the availability of resources, the researcher designed and implemented a Teacher Education Project aimed at having an impact on a group of Tibetan teachers at the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, India. The researcher then developed a survey and analyzed the data to determine the effectiveness of the Teacher Education Project. Based on the Teacher Education Project, the Tibetan Children's Village faculty identified fourteen new student-centered projects that preserve other genres of the Tibetan language such as ceremonial songs and mantras. By having a direct impact on future programs at Tibetan Children's Village, the results of this study fully supported the hypothesis. This study demonstrates that educators and students can be leaders in language preservation, and the study has implications for cultures in crisis, cultures marginalized by society, and organizations working for cultural preservation and global understanding.

5. Bjerken, Zeff. "The mirrorwork of Tibetan religious historians: A comparison of Buddhist and Bon historiography." U. of Michigan, 2001, ISBN -493-09574-8

Abstract

This thesis provides an analysis of the historical literature composed by Tibetan Buddhist and Bon writers about the origins and development of their respective religion in Tibet (bon chos 'byung). These texts present competing versions of Tibet's sacred history, for they were written as apologetic works in defense of the writer's own religious tradition. Despite their partisan perspective, Tibetan historians often style their own works as mirrors that faithfully reflect past events without any distortion. These texts, however, are not only mirrors of events, but mirrors in which Tibetan writers ponder their own religious identity, and what is more they are mirrors of the other religion, in which their differences and symmetries are explained. The purpose of this dissertation is to demonstrate how Buddhist and Bon histories function as mimetic literary narratives, and explore how their distorted images of the other religion have been interpreted by western and Tibetan scholars. The mirror imagery used by Tibetan writers raises questions about how to represent the relationship between Buddhism and Bon. Two common strategies can be detected in the work of Tibetologists: either Bon is marginalized as the historically insignificant native religion of Tibet (as shamanism), or Bon is assimilated into Buddhism and its doctrines and practices deemed derivative. This dissertation presents a different perspective on their relationship, drawing upon the methods of Hayden White on narrative, Jonathan Z. Smith on comparison, and Homi Bhabha on mimesis. The comparative literary approach adopted here shuttles back and forth between Buddhist and Bon historical narratives as a dynamic ensemble, and it avoids the fixed perspective that results once one adopts the position of one tradition to view the other. This reading technique aspires towards reflexivity by making apparent the stylized symmetries created by Tibetan historians, who rely on similar tropes, categories, and techniques of employment. Rather than achieving two distinct monolithic identities, Buddhist and Bon writers create symmetrical subjects, whose hybrid identities are mutually implied, thus blurring the boundaries between the two traditions. These two religions are identified as mutually constituted and mimicking traditions, rather than as authentic and derivative, as they are commonly portrayed.

6. LaMacchia, Linda Jean. "Women's religious expression in Tibetan Buddhism: Songs and lives of the jomo (nuns) of Kinnaur, northwest India." The U. of Wisconsin-Madison, 2001, ISBN 0-493-32565-4.

Abstract

Jomos are nuns, celibate women devoted to the practice of Buddhism; Kinnaur is a Himalayan tribal district on the Tibet border in Himachal Pradesh, India. This dissertation, a first study of Kinnauri jomos, draws on fifteen months of field research focused on the songs and self-narrated lives of these Indian women in the context of village Buddhism in Kinnaur. Buddhism is known for its ability to integrate local beliefs and traditions, and this ability is one of its greatest strengths. While Mumford (1989) and Ortner (1978) have studied the encounter between Buddhism and local traditions by focusing on lama-shaman relationships and rituals, this dissertation focuses on nuns' lives and oral traditions. It argues that jomos have been major agents of Buddhism's assimilation in Kinnaur. The jomos have accomplished this in two ways. First, they compose and/or sing songs in Kinnauri vernacular githang and in Tibetan mgurma that present Buddhist narratives, history, and ideology in local formats, language, and contexts. For example, some of the jomos' songs represent indigenous (HindU) village gods as supporters of Buddhist projects. Secondly, jomos have created (or inherited) lifestyles and identities that are liminal, neither fully lay nor fully renunciant; and their life stories reveal their struggles to balance these two sides: on the one hand, their need to work (for family, temple, or survival) and on the other hand, their devotional and intellectual ambitions to study and practice Buddhism. This dissertation argues that because or in spite of their ambiguous position, jomos are key figures in embodying and expressing the process by which Buddhism is reproduced and given meaning locally. Chapter 1 is an overview of jomos' lives; chapter 2 looks at ideal and actual gurus and disciples; chapter 3 compares the two song genres; and chapter 4 examines jomos' self-presentations in songs and stories and asks why jomos as a rule do not sing about jomos.

7. Lavine, Amy. "The politics of nostalgia: Social memory and national identity among diaspora Tibetans in New York City." The U. of Chicago, 2001, ISBN 0-493-41922-5.

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on the community of diaspora Tibetans living in and around New York City, and their quest to imagine their homeland as a kind of Buddhist utopia separated from the political and economic hardships that mire Tibet today. Such a quest can be seen in the emergence of narratives of nostalgia generated by Tibetans living in exile. The production of an idealized site within the diasporic imaginary is a crucial element in any displaced people's attempts to reproduce culture in the absence of important aspects of its physical basis. Integral to such strategies is the development of narratives that portray life in the homeland in idyllic or utopian terms so that it is possible to achieve and maintain the impetus necessary to re-inhabit it with full claims to independence. An important component of this collective attempt to generate such ideal images of the homeland is the arousal of a desire to remain faithful to a particular image of the past and ultimately to return to it. Dialectically, exile politics are also influenced by the emergence of narratives in the refugee community. Any discourse concerning life in Tibet, present or past, which is cultivated by Tibetans living in exile must negotiate with the repressive measures taken by the Chinese against the Tibetan people. Further, diaspora removes people from spaces they regard not merely as home; but as sacred ground.; Tibetans consider the Tibetan plateau to be the ground on which their entire cultural and religious heritage was established. But exile creates situations in which the very bases of social memory and collective identity are necessarily reshaped. With each successive generation born into exile, the remnants of Tibetan culture are being gradually diffused; with the impossibility of imminent return, the narratives which link the people to their past are becoming increasingly intertwined with the complex nuances of their present. Although many Tibetans living in exile believe that diasporic conditions are having largely negative effects on Tibetan culture, the creativity and invention that distinguish Tibetan efforts to reconstitute their culture in exile suggest to me a remarkable resilience.

8. Sardar-Afkhami, Abdol-Hamid. "The Buddha's secret gardens: End times and hidden-lands in Tibetan imagination." Harvard U., 2001, ISBN 0-493-21611-1.

Abstract

In recent years, there have been a growing interest in the subject of Tibetan sacred geography, yet the relationship between sacred places and political crisis in Tibet imagination remains little understood. In popular imagination, Tibet still conjures up fantasies of a peaceful land sitting outside of time whose subjects were primarily engaged in spiritual pursuits and went on pilgrimage to distant shrines and mountains. In reality, Tibet was a more complex feudal society characterized by civil wars, religious persecutions and foreign invasions. In such times, a secret society of Tibetan yogins began to fantasize about hidden utopias situated in the mountains surrounding their country. This study focuses on a collection of medieval guidebooks to these sacred places and examines their impact on Tibetan imagination up to modern times. While this study is primarily historical, it emphasizes the psychological aspect of the primary literature, and attempts to shed light onto a small group of Tibetan yogins, for whom the Himalayan wilderness became a source of hope and utopian fantasy.

9. Yeshi, B. Tsering; Tibetanization Project: Teachers' meanings and perspectives, U. of Virginia, 2001, ISBN 0-493-27994-6.

This study investigates meanings and perspectives of Tibetan elementary school teachers with regard to Tibetan medium education termed as the Tibetanization Project. It is a qualitative study in which assertions were generated based on common themes that emerged from the participating teachers' shared perspectives. The research questions that guided this study were: (a): What does Tibetanization mean to teachers in Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) schools in India? (b): How has the Tibetanization Project changed the instructional methods of teachers? (c): Has the Tibetanization Project made education more relevant for the Tibetan children? If so, how? If not, why not? (d): How do teachers perceive the Tibetan language and cultural acquisition among the children under the Tibetanization Project? and (e): How does Tibetan medium education affect the Tibetan people in exile? As a result of the research carried out: (1):The Tibetan teachers believe that although teaching of English as a subject is important, instruction solely in a foreign language at the primary school level can deter complete understanding of important concepts, and hinder acquisition of both languages, native and foreign. (2): In order to preserve the Tibetan language and give a quality education to Tibetan children, it is imperative to use the mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the primary school level. (3): The Tibetanization Project has encouraged active participation, critical thinking, and problem solving skills among Tibetan refugee students. (4):The Tibetanization Project has enriched Tibetan vocabulary both Tibetan teachers and students of elementary schools. (5)¨In spite of the above mentioned benefits, teachers still doubt the practicality of the Tibetanization Project in exile. (6): Teachers believe that a Tibetan medium education would be more practical if Tibet was a free country, but because that Tibetans live in exile, education in English medium is more vital for a successful life. Based on the teachers' present confusion and conflicts between their patriotic and pragmatic beliefs, some recommendations are provided for future directions of policy issues for the Tibetanization Project.

10. Cuevas, Bryan Jare;, The hidden treasures of Sgam-po-gdar Mountain: A history of the zhi-khro revelations of Karma-Gling-pa and the making of the 'Tibetan Book of the Dead' , U. of Virginia, 2000, ISBN 0-599-81071-8.

This is a historical study of an influential collection of Tibetan funerary texts which has long been popularized in America and Europe as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Until now the history of the Tibetan texts upon which this book was based has not been well documented, and hence the origin and diffusion of the Tibetan tradition has been understood only vaguely. The principal goal of the study was thus to document for the first time the manner in which the original collection had been articulated and transmitted within its own religious and social contexts. It is demonstrated that the so-called Book of the Dead is actually a fluid compendium of related books from different historical periods reaching as far back as the fourteenth century. Ostensibly, the texts were designed for use in Tibetan Buddhist funeral rituals and describe the experiences to be expected at the moment of death, during a perilous and prolonged postmortem phase called bardo, and during the confused journey into a new existence. By the latter half of the fifteenth century, the core texts had been arranged and codified into a coherent liturgical program. Over time this ritual system was supplemented and adapted to meet the local demands of diverse communities, and was ultimately transmitted throughout Tibet and beyond her borders. The program eventually became one of the most pervasive forms of Tibetan Buddhist funeral liturgy. It is concluded that the Tibetan texts accompanying this ritual service are actually derived from a single textual arrangement which was first standardized in the late seventeenth century. This standard version became the editio princeps of most of the subsequent Tibetan-language editions, and served as the basis for the first western-language translation in 1927 by Kazi Dawa Samdup and Walter Y. Evans-Wentz. This work contributes to the study of broader aspects of the transmission of religious ideas, the production and distribution of religious texts, and the influence of institutions on religious practice within Tibet and surrounding regions.

11. Egyed, Alice Maria; Theory and practice of music in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic tradition, U. of Washington, 2000, 0-599-92594-9.

The Bskang gso are propitiation and healing rituals addressed to the wrathful, protective deities, Mahakala (T. Mgon po Nag po) being the most important among them, in the Rnying ma pa and two Gsar ma pa orders. The study, it is hoped, will contribute to our understanding of the development of music and its place in ritual performance within the two major Tibetan tantric systems (Rnying-ma, or “Adherents of the Old”; and Gsar-ma, or “Adherents of the New”) by clarifying the similarities and differences between their traditions. Both theoretical and practical questions concerning Tibetan Buddhist music were written down, interpreted, and systematized by Tibetan scholars. The earliest and most significant musical treatise which has survived from Tibetan sources was written by an outstanding scholar who was the religious-political leader of twelfth-century Tibet, Sa-skya Pandita Kun-dga rgyal-mtshan (1182-1251). Ritual and musical tradition/practice and the written musical manuals differ not only among each of the four main orders but also among their suborders, and further, even among discrete monastic lineages. Therefore it is necessary to learn a given musical notation from the dbu-mdzad (“musical leader”) of the particular monastery where it is used, a corollary being that every dbu-mdzad, he can perform and teach only his own monastic tradition. We interpret the traditional musical, ritual and historical texts, the oral interpretations by recognized keepers of tradition as well as ethnographic observations of repeated performances of the selected ritual in each of the four major orders of Tibetan Buddhism, to elucidate their differences in structure and function. This study will show the interrelation of music and religion, its thought and practice in Tibetan culture.* *The dissertation includes a music CD.

12. Gardner, Mary Jane; Exile, transnational connections, and the construction of identity: Tibetan immigrants in Montreal, Concordia University, (Canada), 2000, ISBN 0-612-47785-1.

This study examines the processes through which a small group of Tibetans in Montreal constructs a sense of community identity in exile. I argue that membership in the extended, transnational organization, the Tibet Movement, provides the framework within which these processes take place. The incorporation of non-Tibetans, the role of technology, and the part played by the Tibetan government-in-exile and, in particular, that of the Dalai Lama are significant elements in sustaining community identity. The notion of immigrants retaining links with their home country, let alone their previous countries of settlement, contradicts many of our traditional perceptions of immigration, migration and community. To assist me explain what is happening here, I look at recent theories on transnationalism and diaspora. With its unique history, though, the Tibetan case cannot be encompassed by more recent theoretical models. I therefore draw on existing approaches but find it necessary to move beyond them so as to capture the complexities and dynamics of Tibetan transnational connections.

13. Lang, Jodi Renee' , Tibetan Buddhist teachers and Western students: Receptivity, resistance, and resonance on the spiritual path, California Institute of Integral Studies, 2000, ISBN, 0-599-76773-1.

This study records and illuminates the lives of five Tibetan Buddhist teachers and their experiences of teaching Western students in the West. Specifically, I explored the, teachers' early life and introduction to the West, and their experiences of (a): conveying the Tibetan Buddhist teachings; (b): students' openness and receptivity; and (c): students' ability to comprehend the teachings. The teachers represent the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug lineages. Findings indicate that the teachers' early life and their introductions to the West are as varied as each individual. Reasons for leaving their homeland included escaping the invasion and siege of Tibet, desiring to expand their academic studies, and wishing to explore the world. Reflecting on experiences with their own teachers, these teachers' descriptions mirrored the English translated literature on teacher-student relationships, whereas describing their experiences of teaching Western students only partially reflected the classic teacher-student relationship. The Tibetan Buddhist teachers indicate an appreciation of the Western students' openness, curiosity, and inquisitive mind. Two of them specifically discussed the courage it takes to stay true to the teachings and not succumb to the sometimes experienced aggressive demands or expectations of Western students. Perception of the Western student ranges from rigid, hesitant, and disbelieving initially, to developing a confidence through devotion and faith that results in the student experiencing more joy and spaciousness in their life. Ways of presenting the teachings are changing to accommodate Western students. Consequently, the teachers themselves are changing. Themes of impermanence and change as receptivity, resistance, and resonance permeate the data. In some situations change and impermanence are embedded in the teacher's descriptions as well as in their actions, mannerism, and silence. Change and impermanence are inevitable according to the Tibetan Buddhist teachings. These teachers directly impart at least five unique expressions of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings on change as lived through the Eastern teacher-Western student relationship: (1): change through application of knowledge and skills; (2): experience of nothing changing over time and with experience; (3): linear, formal, step-by-step change; (4): fluctuation in the ease of teaching as change; and (5): sacrifice as a form of change.

14. Selig Brown, Kathryn Helene; Handprints and footprints in Tibetan painting, U. of Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-599-98569-0.

The goal of this dissertation is to illuminate the tradition of Tibetan paintings (thang ka) displaying handprints and/or footprints through an investigation into their origins, history, and religious significance. This study demonstrates that the print thangka tradition has at least an eight hundred year history in Tibet and that it is primarily associated with the Bka' brgyud and Dge lugs sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The thirty-two print thangkas examined are categorized into four types which correspond generally in composition, iconography, date, technique, and support material. Based on visual analysis and on textual references, it is suggested that each category of thangka fulfilled a particular function and that the prints on print thangkas are based on the actual touch of a lama. Chapter 1 reviews Western scholarship on the subject of print thangkas and Chapter 2 investigates Indian antecedents to print thangkas. Chapter 3 focuses on the multivalence of print thangkas by examining the occurrence of prints in other Tibetan contexts and the concepts that might be evoked by handprints and footprints on thangkas. Chapters 4 and 5 examine the corpus and relevant texts. The first part of each chapter is a visual analysis of the thangkas. The second half provides insight into the thangkas' buddhological and historical contexts using texts which mention the creation of print thangkas. Chapter 4 addresses the two early categories (11th to 14th century), footprints in ink on silk supports and footprints flanking a deity and/or a lama, and a text written by the early Bka' brgyud scholar, Phag mo Gru pa (1110-1170). Because of their iconography, it is suggested that thangkas in the latter category were created to function as described by Phag mo Gru pa: to provide teachings when the teacher is absent. Chapter 5 examines the two categories of thangkas which date from the 15th to the 20th century, lamas or other historical personages with handprints and footprints, and handprints. This chapter also discusses the significance of passages written by the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) and his regent Sangs rgyas Rgya mtsho (1652-1703). Chapter 6 offers conclusions about the Tibetan print thangka tradition.

15. Trott, Julia Bronson; 'One turn of pitch & toss': Curzon, Younghusband, and the gamble for Lhasa, 1903 to 1904, University of Hawaii, 2000, ISBN 0-599-97235-1.

The British Expedition to Tibet of 1903 to 1904 was a minor military enterprise by the standards of late Victorian Imperialism. It had no results of political importance. It derives its historical and cultural interest from the fact that, owing to the policy of exclusion that had been imposed for the past century by China as Tibet's suzerain, foreigners' perceptions of the isolated country were romanticized and their curiosity about the "mysteries" of Lhasa, its capital, was intense. Therefore the experience of penetrating the Himalayan barrier and forcing entry to the capital had a more than military or diplomatic meaning for everyone concerned. As explorers and as Imperialists who favored an adventurist frontier policy, the instigators of the invasion?Lord George Curzon, Viceroy of British India from 1898 until 1905, and Colonel Francis Younghusband, the Political Agent chosen as Commissioner to Tibet?were determined to go to Lhasa and had to find political ploys to justify their action. However, the study of their personalities (and of their background in British culture) suggests that pragmatic arguments merely served to promote their much simpler purpose. They wanted Britain to reach Lhasa first; they needed a small army to overcome the Tibetans' resistance; and Curzon had the power to send one to escort his representative. This dissertation considers the British bid for Lhasa as a gamble and as a cultural odyssey, as an encounter between people with extremely divergent perspectives, and as an exercise of the imagination. In particular, it is seen as a chase or hunt for a chimerical beast, the Tibetan Grand "Llama", the god-king about whom outsiders could learn nothing except bazaar (and bizarre) rumors. Those rumors, literary and journalistic stereotypes, and the preconceptions brought into Tibet by the invaders are examined here as intangible aspects of the event which have previously been underestimated.

16. Tsomo, Karma Lekshe; Into the jaws of Yama, lord of death: Death and identity in China and Tibet, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, 2000, ISBN 0-599-97239-4.

Recent advances in biomedical technology have stimulated a surge of interest in death and bioethical issues such as abortion, cloning, euthanasia, organ transplantation, and assisted suicide. As the human lifespan lengthens and the time between old age and death increases, these issues take on renewed urgency. In this cross-cultural study, these issues are examined from Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist perspectives. Questions regarding death and the ephemeral nature of life and individual identity have been preeminent in Buddhism for centuries. The interpretation of Indian Buddhist ideas in the cultural and philosophical environments in China and Tibet produced unique ideas about consciousness, death, and moral personhood. This study examines Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan Buddhist attitudes toward death, rebirth, and the intermediate state between death and rebirth; and then (a) discusses bioethics from a Buddhist comparative perspective and (b) suggests ways that these ideas can enrich and expand contemporary bioethical dialogue.

17. Venturino, Steven; Critical baggage: Traveling theory in China, Tibet, and the transnational academy, Loyola U., 2000, ISBN 0-599-73908-8.

This dissertation examines how transnational flows of contemporary theory implicate critics, institutions, and academic discourses as agents of national identity construction and critique. During the 1990s, discussions of Western theory in Chinese contexts seemed to many critics to be a way of expanding truly global debates on representation, cultural identity, and traveling theory. In my dissertation I point to the controversies over Tibet's geopolitical and cultural status as a necessary supplement to what I argue has been a decade of overdetermined “China and the West” discussions. Drawing on original research in China, India, the United States, and Europe, and reading texts ranging from poetry, novels, and theoretical studies to official government documents and news broadcasts, I suggest that key features of literary and cultural critique, such as attention to the contradictions of modernity and the limitations of national narratives, speak directly to the politico-cultural disputes involving Tibet as both a region of People's Republic of China and an “exile nation” with significant Western ties. I illustrate, in a series of specific studies, how debates over national identity are crucial to discussions of literary and cultural theory in China and how prevailing assumptions of Western postcolonial theory and politically engaged poststructuralism are challenged by these encounters.



© 1998 The Center for Research on Tibet
Text is not to be used without written permission.
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