Scaling the Plateau: A Tibet Abstract, and Three Publication Opportunities for Scholars of All Ages

Somewhat excited by the emergence of the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies, its scholarly journal Himalaya, and anxious to further connect with colleages at outstanding Macalaster College, I figured it might be wise to get in line for their fall conference:

“Liu Shengqi in Lhasa: A New Window into Tibet and Chinese Assertions on the Plateau, 1945-1949”

Adam Cathcart, Pacific Lutheran University

Abstract submitted to the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, Macalaster College, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 29-31, 2011:

Before Liu Shengqi (柳陞祺)became the early PRC’s foremost historian of Tibet, he was an English-language secretary in Lhasa for the Nationalist Government’s Commission on Mongolia and Tibet.  His travels and assessment of Han-Tibetan relations in and around Lhasa provide a unique and vital perspective on Tibet’s tenuous status from the end of War of Resistance until 1949, when Liu was expelled from the city with all Chinese and their suspected sympathizers.  Liu’s experiences have been essentially ignored up until now by even such thorough scholars as Melvyn Goldstein, but with the 2010 publication of Liu’s recollections in Lhasa (in Chinese), we can now fill a minor but significant gap in the literature on Tibet’s history — and assertions of Guomindang power in the region — in the period just preceeding the traumatic collision with Maoism.

And an excerpt from the paper itself:

The Significance of Liu Shengqi as a Viewpoint Into Tibet (1912-1949)

Liu was stationed in Lhasa from 1944 to 1949 as the English-language Secretary for various (GMD) Central Government organs and later became one of the foremost Tibetologists in the early PRC.[1]  His lively biographical history which intersected with one of the major turning points in the modern history of the Tibetan plateau – the fall from power of the Nationalist Party in mainland China.  He is therefore a figure of significance when attempting to unravel both what happened in Tibet at the end of the Chinese Republican era, but also in how Tibet’s subsequent history was interpreted, as he himself was instrumental in crafting the distinctive CCP historiography on the Tibetan plateau.[2]

Liu’s own personal recollections dealing with his years as a Nationalist Official.  , and, most of all to our interest today, to Lhasa from 1944-1949.  Virtually all of the significant correspondence from Chongqing and then Nanking to Lhasa in those years passed through his hands.

[1] Among Liu’s cadre of important Tibet scholars in the early 1950s, several shared his background of experiences in the National Government of Chiang Kai-shek, but few had his fluency with English sources.  These were the founders of modern Tibet studies in the academy.  For an impressive bibliography assessing publications in Chinese prior to 1949, see 藏学学刊, 2008, Vol. 4.

[2] His 1953 book, co-authored with his former Nationalist colleague Shen Zonglian 沈宗廉  after only a year back from India, and in English, was Tibet and the Tibetans, an important reference work.  In 1957, with Wang Jingru 王静如 he published an overview of Tibetan history entitled 西藏历史概要, which was later praised as  “the first work in our country [China] to use a totally new perspective” on Tibetan history.  This text — published in the middle of the anti-Rightist campaign — helped to actualize, in print, the interpretive orthodoxy which we see in Tibetan history studies today in the PRC.  

See also: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 柳陞祺研究员逝世

Liu’s newly published (!) studies of Tibetan monasteries and monks in the 1940s

Xinhua (中文) in 2008 on Liu’s newly published collected writings on Tibet, which did not include his Lhasa recollections, interestingly enough

Liu Shengqi died in 2003; reincarnating himself like any good Tibetologist, the best stuff is published posthumously

Three Publication Opportunities for Scholars of All Ages

Undergraduate students looking for a good publication opportunity shouldn’t overlook the Wittenberg University East Asia Journal or the College of St. Scholastica’s Middle Ground Journal.  The latter journal also looks to be a magnificent forum for articles from faculty who teach about global issues.  Finally, Studies on Asia is back up and running in a fourth series and is a wonderful place for graduate students to consider submitting papers, or for folks like myself to submit fuller translations of things, well, like Liu Shengqi’s recollections from Lhasa.  Summer — is there any better time to write?


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