Archive | January 2009

The Broader Tibetan Cultural World

Like the ancient Romans the Tibetans, too, have a broader cultural world that goes beyond the political Tibet of today. While we know of the communities in the south-western borders of Tibet (the following article, which I wrote in 2007) is about one such communities, called the Sherpas), there has been less attention on the communities to the south-east and east, who include the Jang (Naxi) people, the Muso and even what is being called the Xixia by Chinese and Minyak by Tibetans. I am told there are some Western scholars who study the Minyak people.

Anyway, enjoy the following for the moment.

Anyone Ever Heard of Karma Paul?
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review, October 2007

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A Yak on Madison Avenue

One evening last week, I was just surfing through the channels on TV and on my favourite PBS station there was a program in progress concerning a Yak rancher in, of all places, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Willis Larson, the rancher, has been herding yaks. The programme was episode 201 of America’s Heartland series.

Many years back I remember reading an article by Jamyang Norbu la titled “A Yak on Madison Avenue.” If I remember it correctly it was about one of the early tour of the United States by artistes of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, which he had accompanied.

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China and the Tibetan Scholars

One of the significant development in the Tibetan world in 2008 was the status of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue process. There was history being made in many ways in that field. This was the year when Tibetan and Chinese representatives met the most number of times since contact was re-established in 2002. Also, the situation under which the meetings were held was challenging, to put it kindly. Above all, the outcome of the latest round that was held in November 2008 has led to a stagnation, if you will, of the process.

At another level, we saw the Chinese authorities continuing to use the Tibetan scholars to fulfill their political objectives. I have mentioned it at a few fora and I want to say it here, whatever is the political difference between the Tibetans and the Chinese, I think it shortsighted for the Chinese leadership to be politicising the Tibetan academic world. This only contributes to the diminishing of their scholarly status. Even though many institutions and Tibetologists outside of China may have to conform to the Chinese Government’s desire to host visits by Tibetan scholars where they are forced to voice government positions, they can only pity the scholars themselves.

I wrote the following in 1998 in reaction to a development concerning the International Association of Tibetan Studies, the premier forum for Tibetologists.

Studying ‘Tibetans’ or ‘Tibetan’ studies?
Article by Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review
September 1998

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Enter the Tibetan Americans

Enter the Tibetan Americans

One of the challenges to the small Tibetan-American community in the United States is having to adapt to our new hyphenated identity. The feeling of Tibetanness is so strong amongst the Tibetan Americans that in many cases even though several decades may have passed since they have immigrated to this country many continue to regard themselves only as being “Tibetan.”

In the following writeup, a version of which appeared in the newsletter of the London-based Tibet Foundation in February 2001, I talk about the relevance of the hyphenated identity.

Tibetan Americans establish a presence in the United States.

Bhuchung K. Tsering

Tibet Foundation Newsletter

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Black Americans and Tibetans

It is not only January and a New Year (Happy New Year and Tashi Delek to all), but closer home, the United States will see a new President take charge on January 20. Everyone says Barack Obama has created history with his African-American background. What appropriate time than this to talk about Tibet and how it resonates among the African Americans. I wrote the following in 1999.

Black Americans and Tibetans
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review
July 1999

If you look at the Tibet movement in the United States, or, for that matter, throughout the world, one of the glaring points is the absence of a major support base among the Black community. President Nelson Mandela of South Africa is the only African political leader showing an interest in Tibet. Among spiritual leaders we again have to turn to Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

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