Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

Faculty Advisor(s)

Thomas Love

Subject Categories

Race and Ethnicity | Regional Sociology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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 generations 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.