Tibet on the Horizon

Chamdo in Paris

Tonight, wandering north toward the Rue Oberkampf in search of my little home for the week in Belleville (Parisian Chinatown), I ran across a Tibetan restaurant known as “Norbulingka.”  The establishment was on the ground floor of an average-sized building, yet it somehow seemed even more squat than an average restaurant, more insulated, more buttery.  So I went in and found a manager from Kham, and after some typical grappling for linguistic common ground, I coughed out what little remains of my command of Tibetan courtesies.   Like some tea houses in Lhasa or Chengdu, the place was certainly fine for a meeting of importance — quite unlike the German-influenced “Panic Room” where I had just before been hammering at a recalcitrant book chapter in the midst of orange and pink techno underneath a mural of African kids wearing East German military uniforms with stickers on their heads describing how stupid it was to have built the Berlin Wall.

Norbulinka beats techno every time.

“Tashi dele” duly bestowed, on the way out of the place, I fixed my gaze upon a poster of a handsome bald man wearing glasses.  It was of course the Dalai Lama, and the poster spoke of his upcoming appearance in Toulouse, France, in mid-August.

And speaking of the Dalai Lama….

McGranahan on Tibet’s Imperial Encounter

I found this paper by Carole McGranahan at the University of Colorado to be rather interesting:

Dr. McGranahan, whose anthropology home page is here, is the author of Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War (Duke University Press, 2010).  She also has one of the more active Twitter feeds among academics with an interest in Tibet and clearly believes that the Tibetan government-in-exile has a strong case to make for state sovereignty and independence.

In the above presentation, she spends the first 3:55 on the gnarly theoretical question of post-colonialism; at about the halfway point (12′) she dives into the empirical research and the question of American intelligence (e.g., CIA) sponsorship of the Tibetan resistance in the 1960s.

Much food for thought!  And much thought there is, and more food for it, in this panel in Minnesota…

A Panel Rises in the East

As prognosticated, I will indeed be participating in the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs / Himalayan Studies Conference this upcoming October at Macalaster College.  The panel, which runs on Saturday October 29 at 8:30 a.m., should be excellent:

Tibet, China, India: Mapping Connections across History, Politics, and Culture

Chair and Discussant: Geoff Childs, Washington University in St. Louis.

[Childs is an anthropologist with an impressive array of publications about demography in Tibet; his recent work with Melvyn Goldstein in The China Journal looks to be essential reading.]

1. Adam Cathcart, Pacific Lutheran University, “Liu Shengqi in Lhasa: A New Window Into Tibet and Chinese Assertions on the Plateau, 1945-1949”

2. Sarah Getzelman, The Ohio State University, “Imaging the Dalai Lama: Incarnations in Art and Practice”

3. Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy, Université Laval, “TV across the Indo-Tibetan Interface: Indian TV as a cultural mediator for ‘Newcomer’ Tibetans in Dharamsala?”


Photo courtesy Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy, click image for more details about her interdisciplinary fieldwork


  1. Great finds! And have you been following the Dalai Lama’s visit to Washington, D.C. for presiding over the Kalachakra (and, as 缘分 would have it, meet with President Obama…but of course only as spiritual leader….ahem)? Interesting stuff.
    And who patronized this Khampa restaurant? Were you able to talk to any of the customers as well?

    1. I did not disturb the customers K., but they seemed to be a profitable and happy lot there near the Circus d’Hiver…

      BTW I was at NORDIC MUSEUM in Stockholm recently and spent a good 45 minutes in a small but very rich and dense (sort of like fatty butter tea or Tibetan food, yes?) exhibition on the Sami….and so your various parallels over the years are now making more sense to me. It was powerful! I hope to get up to Lappland at some point in the next few years…hey! maybe PLU would let me do a whole semester split between Lappland, Kurdistan, and Tibet….yes, generating ideas on this blog seems to have had some value after all.

  2. Hahaha, yes!!

    Glad you’ve been looking into this stuff in Sweden, that’s awesome!
    Today I just checked out some more books to help me further explore the Saami-Tibet connection..it’s definitely worth looking into.

    *NB 1: To really get to the Saami stuff, head over to Norway. Karasjok and Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino in Norwegian) are two strongholds for Saami culture..as is Finnmark in general. But especially if you get the chance **please** get in touch with Galdu center there… the Saami political organizations are very heavily bent on situating themselves on an INTERNATIONAL indigenous forum/dialogue (how Scandinavian), whereas Tibet has more or less been relying on its own name brand for international attention. But I think overall there should be more crossover between these Saami institutions and Tibetan organizations…anyway if you get a chance to hop over the border and start making some serious guanxi, keep me in the loop!!!
    **NB 2: Saapmi is more politically correct…”Lappland” is actually outdated and often considered offensive.
    ***NB 3: Tibetan food is fun to make. Time consuming, but good for student budgets as the ingredients are not so many.

  3. BTW I am not on Twitter (yet………..), but I saw your stuff at the bottom of the screen. Yes, the PRC should have these transcripts…after all, is it not the case that they have his personal diary from before his exile days?

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