Columbia University
Robert Barnett
Seminars, meeting once a week for two hours: Tuesdays 2.40-4pm
Course Level: 4000 - open to all students; Points: 3. Number W4550

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Course Rationale

This course seeks to develop a critical understanding of modern Tibet through its biographical literature. It looks at the forms that modern Tibetan biography takes in different spheres, regimes and periods, looking at those generated by religious leaders, officials, resistance leaders, aristocrats and radicals. In addition, it looks at the associated practices of autobiography, oral history, personal testimony, and state heroes, in order to arrive at a critical understanding of both Tibet and of these genres. These modern life-stories draw from the rich Tibetan traditional literature of religious biography and legend, and reflect at the same time current biographical practices among contemporary Chinese officials and writers. This course aims at developing a more nuanced and multi-dimensional view of modern Tibet and its cultural influences by examining the roles and perspectives of different Tibetans, questions of gender in this form, the interplay of tradition and reconstructed memory, and the capacity of Tibetans as agents and re/writers in their responses to state narratives. Comparisons will be made with biographies from Inner Mongolia, inland China and other countries, and theoretical issues will be raised from both the historical, human rights and anthropological discussions of the questions surrounding the recording of individual experience. The course will be of value to students in the social sciences, in history, religion, literature and regional studies, and particularly to those in Chinese and East Asian studies at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Course Description

The course starts by introducing the issues surrounding the role of biography and of recollected individual experience in the study of history. We will then consider some basic tools for studying modern Tibet. The first assignment requires students to present their own life-stories, or those of a close relative. We then look at different forms of life-story ¡V those which are told about a nation as a single person, those which present model heroes, and accounts by or about religiously inspired women. The ambiguities of stories produced in a foreign language by exiles or by foreign long-term visitors are discussed, and accounts of loyal officials are viewed in terms of state narratives and selective memory. The complexities faced by Tibetans in the super-elite will be analysed through the texts dramatisng their failures, while for radical intellectuals, death and suicide become the stories through which their projects are given symbolic standing. In the final section of the course, we consider the practical and theoretical issues involved in oral history. The course concludes with discussions about the role of tales of resistance to the state, of personal testimonies of oppression, and of the reporting of ¡§ordinary people¡¦s lives¡¨.

The course consists of one seminar session a week, each with a student presentation, a discussion, and a lecture. The course will be conducted in co-operation with the Columbia University Oral History Research Office and will involve students in the preparation of a life-story by carrying out interviews with a person in the local community.

Access to the updated syllabus is through

Course Requirements

The course is open to all students. No previous knowledge of Tibetan or Chinese history is required. All texts will be available in translation in English; those which are hard to find will be included in the reading pack.

Assignment 1: Each week students will write a diary note commenting on two or more of the week¡¦s readings and post it to the rest of the class by email by Monday 8pm. These should be at least one page in length.

Assignment 2: Each student will be asked to present an introduction to the readings and lead the class discussion for at least one class.

Assignment 3 : For the second session each student will prepare a written life-story of her or his own life, from 1,000-1,500 words. Usually these should be send to the rest of the class by email by Monday 8pm.

Assignment 4: As a final paper, each student will carry out an interview or interviews with someone from Tibet, China or Mongolia in the local community and produce (a) a protocol for discussion with the instructor (b) a transcript of the interviews, (c) a life-story of at least 2,000 words, and (d) an analysis of the process and the historical issues involved in at least 3,000 words.

Required Text

Tsering Shakya , Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999 (paperback via Amazon, 200: $11.20).

Optional Recommended Text

Janet Gyatso , Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1998 (paperback, 1999: $20.95)

Syllabus and Reading List

Selections from the optional readings will be presented to the class by a student.

An asterisk* indicates a text that is in the course reading pack.

Week 1: Introduction - Biographies, Autobiographies, Memoirs: an introduction to the questions surrounding the role of personal narratives in studying and shaping a culture. We look at the Tibetan traditions of biography such as the rnam-thar, and consider what relevance this might have to the study of modern Tibet. In this session some of the tools for studying modern Tibet are laid out: some contrasting schemes for periodisation, types of sources, forms of literature, terminology, geography, language and transliteration systems, and the academic issues and terms that are politically contested.

Week 2: Our Lives and Other¡¦s Lives: Writing a Life Story

Students present and discuss their own life-stories and examine the issues of selection and memory involved in this process. We consider two basic models of Tibetan life-story: the classical hagiography and the modern resistance hero.


*James Burnell Robinson, ¡§The Lives of Indian Buddhist Siants: Biography, Hagiography and Myth¡¨ and Nalanda Translation Committee, ¡§The Life of Tilopa¡¨, in Donald Lopez, ed., Religions of Tibet in Practice (Princeton readings in religions), Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1997, pp. 57-69, 137-156.

*Matthew Kapstein¡K , "The Royal Way of Supreme Compassion¡K..

*Janet Gyatso , ¡§From the Autobiography of a Visionary¡¨ in Donald Lopez, ed., Religions of Tibet in Practice (Princeton readings in religions), Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1997, Chapter 22, pp. 369-75

*Tseso , ¡§Jigme Zangpo [sJigs Med bZang Po] of the Tanak [sTag sNag] family, age 67¡K¡¨ Guchusum, Dharmsala, 1994 (manuscript)

*Joan Scott , "The Evidence of Experience" in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 17, No. 4 (1991), pp.773-797 or in Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barele, and David M. Halperin (eds) The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, New York and London: Routledge, 1993

Tsering Shakya , Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999, pp. 394-448

*J. Okely and H. Callaway (eds.), Anthropology and Autobiography, ASA Monographs, Routledge, London, 1992, pp.42-67 *Paul Spencer¡K

Assignment: Each student will present their own life-story or that of a relative in 1,000 to 1,500 words

Week 3: Classical-Modern Variations of Dynastic Heroes: Comics, Websites and Ancient Epics

The recollection of individual cultural heroes has a role in both the formation of a collective identity and in the process by which a dynasty, a nation or a state establishes its legitimacy. We look at this process in accounts of the Buddhist siddha Padmasambhava and its modern electronic forms, in the Chinese Communist Party¡¦s use in Tibetan comic books of model figures like Lei Feng, and in the role of the legendary King Gesar in post-Soviet Buryatia.


*Mukhtinath International Foundation , The Story of Padmasambhava, Part 1, citing Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, Oasis of Liberation, 1999 at

*Anne Marie Blondeau , "Analysis of Biographies of Padmasambhava according to Tibetan Tradition: Classification of Sources" in Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi (eds.), Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Aris and Phillips, Warminster, 1980, pp.45-52

Janet Gyatso , Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1998, pp 101-123

*Michael Aris , Hidden Treasures and Secret Lives ¡V A Study of Pemalingpa (1450-1521) and the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706), Kegan Paul International, London, 1989, pp. 1-11, 149-185, 207-211

Optional/Class Presentation

*Pasang Wangdu and Hildegard Diemberger , dBa' bzhed - The Royal Narrative concerning the Bringing of Buddha's Doctrine to Tibet, Verlag der Oesterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, 2000, pp.55-57

*Per Soerensen (ed.), The Mirror Illuminating the Royal Genealogies (Rgyal rab gsal ba¡¦i me long), Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1994, pp. 369-77

*Yeshe Tsogyal (¡§revealed¡¨ by Nyang Ral Nyima Oser, translated by Eril Pema Kunsang), The Lotus-Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava , Shambhala Publications, Boston, 1992 (handout)

Liu Han Zheng (Li¡¦u han kreng), le hpheng gi byis pa¡¦i dus rabs (¡§Lei Feng¡¦s Time as a Child¡¨), mi rigs dpe skrun khang (Nationalities Publishing House), Beijing, January 1974 (handout)

Guiseppe Tucci , Tibetan Painted Scrolls, Roma: Libreria dello Stato. Vol.1, 1949, pp 17-24

Roberte Hamayon , "Reconstuction identitaire autour d'une figure imaginaire chez les Bouriates post-sovietiques?" in J. C. Attias, P. Gisel and L. Kaennel (eds.), Messianismes: Religions et perspectives Nr. 10, 2000, pp. 229- 252 (ask for copy)

Week 4: Modern Spiritual Women: Dorje Phagmo, Ani Cho-la, Ani Lochen

Can women¡¦s biographies be regarded as more ¡§personal¡¨ or ¡§insightful¡¨? Is there any gender distinction to be made in the writing of biographies or the telling of experience? We ask if the fact that women often have marginal or inferior roles in society and culture is reflected in accounts of their lives, and whether inferior voices have a different relation to ¡§history¡¨ than those of more dominant players. We look at the life-stories of some classical, early-20 th century and contemporary Tibetan women, including modern short stories about religious Tibetan women written by Tibetan women.


¡§Elder Sister¡¨ (name withheld): ¡§I am the elder sister¡K¡¨ (manuscript, 1999; - handout)

¡§Ani X¡¨ (name withheld): ¡§I have a heart sickness¡K¡¨ (manuscript, 1999; - handout)

*Geyang , ¡§An Old Nun Tells Her Story¡¨ in Herbert Batt (ed.), Tales Of Tibet: Sky Burials, Prayer Wheels and Wind Horses, Rowman and Littlefield, 2001, pp. 163-176

*Yangdon , ¡§A God without Gender¡¨ in Herbert Batt (ed.), Tales Of Tibet: Sky Burials, Prayer Wheels and Wind Horses, Rowman and Littlefield, 2001, pp. 177-188

* Hannah Havnevik , ¡§On Pilgrimage for Forty years in the Himalaya ¡V The Female Lama Jetsun Lochen Rinpoche¡¦s (1865-1951) Quest for Sacred Sites¡¨ in Alex McKay, ed., Pilgrimage in Tibet, Curzon, 1998, pp 85-107 (or ¡§ Ani Lochen: A Biography of a Tibetan Nun¡¨ (in press) or Proceedings of the Seminar of the IATS, Graz)

Optional/Class Presentation

Anon ., Ye shes mkha¡¦ ¡¥gro bsod nams ¡¥dren gyi sku skyes gsum pa ¡K(¡§The biography of the Jetsunma Choegyi Dronma¡¨, manuscript, 15 th century), in translation (manuscript, 2002 - handout)

*Keith Dowman and Choepel Namgyel (¡§revealed¡¨ by Taksham Nuden Dorje) , Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel , Routledge Kegan Paul, London, 1983 and Snow Lion, New York, 1997, pp. 10-24, 31-43 [or 6-9, 39-47, 155-61]

*Walter Benjamin , Charles Baudelaire, a lyric poet in the era of high capitalism, Verso, London, 1983 (first published as New Left Books, London 1973, originally published Frankfurt, 1969), pp. 110-54

Week 5: Oral History: Techniques, Theories and Difficulties

What is the balance between the spoken and the written record, between the individual experience and the synthesis account? Does the method of transmission change the nature of the product? How does one resolve issues of accuracy and subjective perspective?


*Alessandro Portelli , The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories ¡V Form and Meaning in Oral History, SUNY Press, 1991, pp. 1-26

*Ronald Grele , ¡§Movement Without Aim: Methodological and Theoretical Problems in Oral History¡¨, in Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, eds., The Oral History Reader, Routledge, London and New York, 1998, pp. 42ff. (originally published in Ronald Grele, ed., Enevelopes of Sound ¡V Six Practitioners Discuss the Method, Theory and Practice of Oral History and Oral Testimony, Precedent, Chicago, 1975, pp. 126-54.

*Luisa Passerini , ¡§Work Ideology and Consensus under Italian Fascism¡¨, History Workshop, 1979, no. 8, pp. 84-92

* Kathryn Anderson , ¡§Interviewing Techniques: Shedding Agendas¡¨ in Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, eds, The oral history reader, Routledge, London, 1998, pp. 29-37

Optional/Class Presentation

Allessandro Portelli , ¡§The Peculiarities of Oral History¡¨, History Workshop, 1981, no. 12, pp. 96-107

*Walter Benjamin , ¡§Theses on the Philosophy of History¡¨ in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, 1955

*Michael Frisch , ¡§Oral History and Hard Times: A Review Essay¡¨, in Oral History Review 1979, no. 7, pp. 70-79 or in Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, eds., The oral history reader, Routledge, London, 1998, pp. 29-37

Week 6: National History as a Personal Life-story: The Metonynic Demoness

Can a nation have a personal biography? How different is this from a history? And why are many of these nation-identifications feminised? We look at versions of the story of Tibet as a demoness, including pictures, and the depictions in legend, opera, books and TV shows of China¡¦s encounter with Tibet in the form of the Princess Wencheng.


*Per Soerensen (ed.), The Mirror Illuminating the Royal Genealogies (Rgyal rab gsal ba¡¦i me long), Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1994, pp. 242-80

*Janet Gyatso , "Down with the demoness: reflections on a feminine ground in Tibet" in Tibet Journal, XII-4, Winter 1987, pp. 38-53, also published in Janice Willis (ed.), Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet, Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications, 1989

*Tinley Chodag (ed.), Tibet, The Land and the People, New World Press, Beijing, 1988, pp. 3-21, 281-283

*Maurice Halbwachs , On Collective Memory, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1992, pp.37-56, 167-77, 182-89

Week 7: Diasporic Dilemmas: the prevalence of biographies in exile literature

For foreigners the dominant sources of knowledge about another place are those produced in English, and in the Tibetan case, these are often those produced by the exile community or communities. What are the dynamics of Tibetan exile literary production, and why are they often in the form of women¡¦s autobiographies? What is the relationship between an exile perspective and an ¡§inside¡¨ view?


*Rin-chen Lha-mo , We Tibetans, Potala Publications, 1985 (1926), pp. v-ix, 65-9, 89-111, 125-132

*Rinchen Dolma Taring , Daughter of Tibet, Wisdom Publications, 1987 (first published by John Murray, London, 1970), pp. 14-25, 66-94

*Anonymous (Adrian Moon, translator), "A Monk's Story," published in translation in Background Papers on Tibet - September 1992, Part 2, London: Tibet Information Network, 1992, p.20-26

*Laurie Hovell McMillin , English in Tibet, Tibet in English: Self-Presentation in Tibet and the Diaspora , Palgrave, Basingstoke, 2001 [selected pages]

*(Pema Chodron), ¡§Biography¡¨ by Shambhala Publications,,1389043/yid,70711351/userId,9CF2BB82-D953-47FE-93B78ECE00AF0132

*K. Dhondup, ¡§The Case for Intellectual Freedom¡¨ in Vyvyan Cayley, Children of Tibet: An Oral History of the First Tibetans to Grow Up in Exile. Pearlfisher Publications, [ 226 Darling St, Balmain NSW, 2041 Australia fax 61 2 8106024] 1994, pp. 83-98

*Hortsang Jigme , Under the Blue Sky ¡VAn Invisible Small Corner of the World, translated by Lobsang Dawa and Gussje de Schot, privately printed in typescript, 1989, pp. 1-27

*Paul Gilroy , The black Atlantic: modernity and double consciousness, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1993, pp 186-223

Optional/Class Presentation

Rato Khyongla,My Life and Lives: the Story of a Tibetan Incarnation, Button, New York, 1977, pp. 1-24, 123-33, 181-218.

Chogyam Trungpa , Born in Tibet, Shambhala, Boulder, 1977 (first published by Allen and Unwin, London, 1966)

Dorje Yudon Yuthok , House of the Turquoise Roof, Snow Lion, New York, 1990

Sumner Carnhan with Lama Kunga Rimpoche , In the Presence of My Enemies: Memoirs of Tibetan Nobleman, Tsipon Shuguba, Heartsfire, Santa Fe, 1998.

Week 8: Resistance

Resistance to the state or to oppression has an important place in foreign perceptions of history, and is closely related to accounts of individual experience. We look at resistance literature and at critics who argue that it is part of outsiders¡¦ simplification, or of elite attempts to commandeer discourse.


*Gonpo Tashi Andrugtsang , Four Rivers, Six Ranges: Reminiscences of the Resistance Movement in Tibet, Information and Publicity Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, 1973 , pp. 1-31, 95-106

*Lila Abu-Lughod , ¡§The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women¡¨, American Ethnologist 17(1), 1990, pp. 41-55

Jamyang Norbu , Warriors of Tibet: Story of Aten and the Khampas' Fight for the Freedom of Their Country, Wisdom Publications, 1986 (first published as Horseman in the Snow by Tibet Information Office, Dharamsala, India, 1979), pp. 7-20, 143-52

Tsering Shakya , Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999, pp. 162-84

Optional/Class Presentation

*Carol McGranahan , Arrested Histories: Between Empire and Exile in 20 th Century Tibet, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2001, pp. 267-287

*Alak Tsayu Tenzin Palbar , The Tragedy Of My Homeland, Dharamsala, manuscript, 1997, pp. 1-4, 2-26, 46, 60-61, 123-4

Week 9: Foreign Visitors: Kimura, Harrer, Ford and others

Among the genre of travel writing is a specialist group of long-term visitors, those who have learnt the host language; often they have worked for the local administration, or as spies. Are foreign writers such as these only able to write within the confines of their colonial, militarist or exoticising traditions? What differences come from knowledge of a language or involvement in the administration? We consider life-stories of British, Chinese and Japanese long-term visitors and agents working in Tibet


*Ma Lihua , Glimpses of Northern Tibet, Beijing: Panda Books, 1991, pp. 6-11, 106-111, 242-257, 262-265, 303-313

Robert Ford , Captured in Tibet, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1990 (first published by Harrap, London, 1957 and as Wind Between The Worlds: The Extraordinary First Person Account Of A Westerner's Life In Tibet As An Official Of The Dalai Lama's Government, David McKay, New York, 1957 ), Pp. 3-19, 46-49, 72-73, 128, 178-181

*Hisao Kimura and Scott Berry , A Japanese Agent In Tibet: My Ten Years Of Travel In Tibet, Serindia, London, 1990, pp. 171-211

*Hugh Richardson , ¡§The Chapel of the Hat¡¨ (from Tibet Society Newsletter, London, Summer 1983, pp.14-16) High Peaks, Pure Earth, Serindia, London, 1998, pp. 726-728, 733.

*Nicholas B. Dirks , ¡§Colonial Histories and Native Informants: The Biography of an Archive¡¨, in Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, eds., Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia,1993, pp. 279-313.

Optional/Class Presentation

Heinrich Harrer , Seven Years in Tibet :   Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio, 1997 (first published in English by Hart-Davies, London, 1953)

Heinrich Harrer , Return to Tibet: Tibet after the Chinese Occupation, Penguin, London, 1985

*Catriona Bass , Inside the Treasure House, Gollancz, London, 1990, pp. 195-217

*Ekai Kawaguchi , Three Years in Tibet, Bibliotheca Himalayica, Series 1, Volume 22, EMR Publishing House, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1995, (first published in Madras, 1909), pp. 286-343

*Eric Teichman , Travels of a Consular Officer in Eastern Tibet, Cambridge, 1922, PP. 101-123

*G. E. O. Knight, Intimate Glimpses of Mysterious Tibet & Neighbouring Countries, London, 1930 (reprinted by Pilgrim Books, Delhi), pp. 39-62

Week 10: Intelligentsia Claims, Death and Suicide: Gendun Choephel, Sherab Gyatso and Dondrup Gyal

Intellectuals generally operate through the spoken and written word, and may be involved in projects to transform their societies. Their biographies are complicated and politicized texts, and their lives and deaths can become part of major social movements and concerns. But is this a factor of a manipulative ability to bequeath texts and to create symbolic meaning out of the lives in ways that affects successor-intellectuals rather than society? We look at leading renaissance figures in 1940s Tibet and Mongolia, and in early 1980s Amdo.


*Pema Bhum (trans. Lauran Hartley), ¡§A Shooting Star that Cleaved the Night Sky and Vanished¡¨ in Lungta, No.9, Dharamsala, Winter 1995, pp. 17-29.

*Sechin Jagchid , The Last Mongol Prince - The Life and Times of Demchugdongrob, 1902-1966, Washington: Centre for Asian Studies, Western Washington University, 1999, pp.18-33, 427-33

*Heather Stoddard , "The Long Life of rDo-shis dGe-bses Ses-rab rGya-mcho (11884-1968)¡¨ in Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Fourth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Munich, pp. 465-71

*Gray Tuttle , Chinese Support for Modern Monastic Education in the Borderlands of Tibet: Shes rab rgya mtsho's School in Rdo sbis, Qinghai, Harvard, 2002 (manuscript; subject to permission of the author)

*Heather Stoddard , "Don grub rgyal (1953-1985): Suicide of a Modern Tibetan Writer and Scholar" in Per Kvaerne (ed.), Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture, Oslo, 1994, pp. 825-34

* Carol McGranahan , Arrested Histories: Between Empire and Exile in 20 th Century Tibet, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2001, pp. 194-215

*J. Gyatso , "Counting Crow's Teeth: Tibetans and their Diary-Writing Practices" in Samten Karmay and P Sagant (eds.), Les Habitants du Toit du Monde, Societe d'ethnologie, Paris, 1977, pp. 159-77

Optional/Class Presentation

*Heather Stoddard , " Tibet: Transition from Buddhism to Communism" in Government and Opposition, Volume 21, No.1, Winter 1986, London School of Economics, London, pp. 75-95

Tsering Shakya , Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999, p.1-14

Assignment: a> Students will give an oral presentation in office hours of a 2-page proposal concerning their life-story project. This project will involve interviewing a person in the local community who is from the Chinese-Tibetan-Mongolian cultural area; this includes Xinjiang ( East Turkestan) and other nationality areas. The proposal will include protocols for obtaining background readings, cultural familiarization procedures, interview techniques, confidentiality issues, and interviewee¡¦s consent.

Week 11: Individuals Perform the State: Officials in Chinese/Tibetan Revolutionary History

Texts produced by officials or military officers reflect state rhetoric and its projects. We consider to what extent state discourse affects the usefulness of such texts for history, and whether there are interpretative tools for reclaiming such accounts for historical study. We compare this with the ¡§scar literature¡¨ produced in China by people who felt that their lives had been damaged by the state¡¦s policies during the Cultural Revolution: what role does their critical airing of those experiences have, and is it as independent of state narratives as these writers claim?


*Chen Jingbo , ¡§The Advance Party To Tibet And The Work of The United Front (Part I)¡¨ in Bulletin of the History of the Tibet Communist Party, Volume 1, 1988 (General Series No.19), pp. 7ff. Published 5 January 1988 [TIN Ref: Doc 20(ZY)p7]

*Geremie R. Barme , ¡§History for the Masses¡¨ in Jonathan Unger, ed., Using the Past to Serve the Present, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., Armonk, NY, 1993. Or see

Ngapo Ngawang Jigme , A Great Turn in Tibetan History, New Star Publishers, Beijing, 1991 (or Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, "The True Facts of the 10 March 1959 Event¡¨, China Tibetology, 2, Beijing, 1988)

Chang Kuo-hua (Zhang Guohua), ¡§ Tibet Returns to the Bosom of the Motherland¡¨, Survey of China Mainland Press, No.2854 ( 6 th November 1962).

¡§Person X¡¨ (name withheld), ¡§My Father¡¦s Arrival in Tibet and the Fourteenth Army¡¨ (manuscript, 2001, restricted circulation)

Tsering Shakya , Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999, pp. 93-140

*Uradyn E. Bulag ,"Models and Moralities: The Parable of the Two "Heroic Little Sisters of the Grassland"', China Journal, 42, July 1999, pp 21-44

Optional/Class Presentation

*Lu Xinhua , ¡§The Wounded¡¨ in The Wounded: new stories of the Cultural Revolution, 77-78, Joint Publishing Co., Hongkong, 1979

Nien Cheng , Life and Death in Shanghai, Penguin, London, 1986, pp.125-169, 383-432.

* Israel Epstein , Tibet Transformed, New World Press, Beijing, pp 153-179, 258-64

Week 12: The Symbolic Failed Leader - Disputed Heroes of the Revolution And/Or the Nation: Phuntsog Wangyal, Ulanfu and the Panchen Lamaa

We look in detail at two figures who were members of the state apparatus but occupied unique symbolic or leading positions. Can their texts be seen as transcending the limitations of official discourse? Is this an option only available to people with access to symbolic power? How do we know if these claims are manipulative or purely aspirational? Do these texts undermine or support the regime claims that these writers have served?


*¡§Daweixirao¡¨ , ¡§Appendix II: A Brief Biography of Phuntsok Wanggyal Goranangpa¡¨, in Liquid Water Does Exist on the Moon(dla ba¡¦i nang gsher gzugs yod), Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 2002, pp. 434-480 [Zla ba'i shes rab, Sgor ra nang pa phun tshogs dbang rgyal (phun dbang) gyi mdzad rnam mtor bsdus ('A Brief Biography of Phuntsog Wanggyal Goranangpa'), Beijing (?), undated ms., c.1999]

`Jam dpal rgya mtsho , ¡§Banchan da shi¡¨ (Great Master Panchen) in Zhongguo Redian Wenxiao (China Popular Literature) Beijing, August 1989, pp. 6-26. Original published in Zhonghua Erniu ( China's Sons and Daughters) (draft translation)., pp.1-13

*Uradyn E. Bulag , "The Cult of Ulanhu in Inner Mongolia: History, Memory, and the Making of National Heroes", Central Asian Survey, No. 1, 1998, pp. 11-34

Optional/Class Presentation

Melvyn Goldstein, William Siebenschuh, Tashi Tsering , The Stuggle for Modern Tibet: the Autobiography of Tashi Tsering, M . E. Sharpe, Armonk, New York, 1997.

Melvyn Goldstein, Dawei Sherab, and William Siebenschuh, A Tibetan Revolutionary: the Political Life and Times of Baba Phuentso Wangye

Week 13: Testimony: Life Stories as Human Rights Strategies

In the early Cold War era, and again in the 1980s, human rights issues became a dominant mode for the discussion of Tibet and other conflict areas. These discussions came to be dominated by the testimony, the victim¡¦s statement. We look at the role of such statements and at the debate over their significance, and over the question of veracity, in the cases of Tibet and Guatemala. What is the effect of the western production market, and of the translator-writer-editor-publisher-publicist process on these works, and does it make a difference if a bilingual native speaker controls the writing process?


*David Patt , A Strange Liberation: Tibetan Lives in Chinese Hands, Snow Lion, New York, 1993, pp 133-66

*David Stoll , Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, Westview Press, Boulder, 1999, pp. 178-97, 231-47, 273-310

David Stoll , ¡§Life story as mythopoesis¡¨, Anthropology Newsletter, April 1998, pp. 9, 11.

Paul Gelles , ¡§Testimonio, ethnography, and processes of authorship¡¨, Anthropology Newsletter, March 1998, pp. 16-17

Meg McLagan , Mobilizing for Tibet: Transnational politics and diaspora culture in the post-cold war era; Doctoral dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology, New York University, New York, 1996, pp¡K.

Optional/Class Presentation

Palden Gyatso with Tsering Shakya, Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk (also published as Fire under the Snow: The Testimony of a Tibetan Prisoner), Harvill Press, London 1998

Ani Pachen with Adelaide Donnelley, Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun, Kodansha International, 2000

Adhe Tapontsang and Joy Blakeslee, Ama Adhe: The Voice that Remembers, Wisdom, Boston, 2000 (first published 1997)

Week 14: The Demotic Dream: Ordinary Lives and the Fabulisation of Routine

In literary terms, attempts at demotic transcription, at seeking to reproduce accounts of non-heroic life-stories, are among the most refreshing areas of this genre. Why? And what do these accounts tell us? Are we entranced by the writer¡¦s description of the dispossessed as an exercise in self-definition, or do ordinary people¡¦s lives reveal important ways of writing and understanding a society and its history?


Jigme Namgyal , ¡§Postface. Temoignage de Jigme Namgyel¡¨{Afterword: Testimony of Jigme Namgyal), in Katia Buffetrille and Charles Ramble (eds.), Tibetains: 1959-1999, quarante ans de colonisation, Editions Autrement No. 108, Paris, 1998, pp.163-9 (in translation)

*Pema Bhum , trans. Lauren Hartley, Six Stars and a Crooked Neck, Bod kyi du babs, Dharamsala, 2001, pp. 87-148

*Sang Ye and Zhang Xinxin , Chinese Lives: An Oral History of Contemporary China , Pantheon Books, New York, 1987 (first published as Beijingren, Shanghai, 1984), pp. xv-xxx, 3-13, 135-39, 209-13

Liu Qizhong and Chen Gengtao a> (eds.), Profiles of 50 Tibetans, Xinhua, Beijing, 1991 , pp. 1-33

Assignment: Students will present a transcript of their interviews, a life-story of at least 2,000 words, and a paper discussing the historical and analytical issues involved in the project of at least 3,000 words.