Submission Title

The Transformation of Tibetan Identity

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Subject Area

Sociology

Description

After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1951, Tibetan identity began to secularize, shifting from a more traditional religious to a more explicitly political identity. The few studies that focus on the secularization of Tibetan identity, even if only secondarily, claim that it is either a compulsory product imposed by the reinforcement of modernization by the Chinese authority or a voluntary product through younger generation of Tibetans’ internalization, primarily through schooling, of the Chinese colonization ideology. Either way, those scholars of Tibetan studies treat the secularization of Tibetan identity as a form of cultural assimilation or deterioration of Tibetan identity. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in a Tibetan village, as well as my own Tibetan ancestry, I argue that despite its secular nature, current Tibetan identity is better understood as a form of resistance to both direct and indirect Chinese domination than as a result of cultural assimilation and identity deterioration.

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The Transformation of Tibetan Identity

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1951, Tibetan identity began to secularize, shifting from a more traditional religious to a more explicitly political identity. The few studies that focus on the secularization of Tibetan identity, even if only secondarily, claim that it is either a compulsory product imposed by the reinforcement of modernization by the Chinese authority or a voluntary product through younger generation of Tibetans’ internalization, primarily through schooling, of the Chinese colonization ideology. Either way, those scholars of Tibetan studies treat the secularization of Tibetan identity as a form of cultural assimilation or deterioration of Tibetan identity. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in a Tibetan village, as well as my own Tibetan ancestry, I argue that despite its secular nature, current Tibetan identity is better understood as a form of resistance to both direct and indirect Chinese domination than as a result of cultural assimilation and identity deterioration.