Thursday, January 3, 2013

Books on Tibet

These are selected titles from our collection of books on Tibet:

Geopolitical Exotica: Tibet in Western Imagination by Dibyesh Anand. Geopolitical Exotica examines exoticized Western representations of Tibet and Tibetans and the debate over that land's status with regard to China. Concentrating on specific cultural images of the twentieth century-promulgated by novels, popular films, travelogues, and memoirs-Dibyesh Anand lays bare the strategies by which "Exotica Tibet" and "Tibetanness" have been constructed, and he investigates the impact these constructions have had on those who are being represented. Geopolitical Exotica is the first book to explore representational practices within the study of international relations. Anand challenges the parochial practices of current mainstream international relations theory and practice, claiming that the discipline remains mostly Western in its orientation. His analysis of Tibet's status with regard to China scrutinizes the vocabulary afforded by conventional international relations theory and considers issues that until now have been undertheorized in relation to Tibet. In this masterfully synthetic work, Anand establishes that postcoloniality provides new insights into themes of representation and identity and demonstrates how IR as a discipline can meaningfully expand its focus beyond the West.

Waiting for the Dalai Lama: Stories from All Sides of the Tibetan Debate by Annelie Rozeboom. Why does the issue of Tibet rouse such passions on both sides? And is there any way to find common ground? Chinese-speaking journalist Annelie Rozeboom worked as a foreign correspondent in China for ten years. During that time she was able to interview numerous Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, as well as Chinese residents, Western observers and the Dalai Lama himself. As these people explain their life stories, it becomes clear to the reader why they think the way they do. The book also shows how history washed over this remote kingdom and how the Tibetans and the Chinese came to take such opposing positions. Waiting for the Dalai Lama is a uniquely valuable book which approaches the emotive issue of Tibet from all angles.

The Ninth Panchen Lama (1883-1937): A Life at the Crossroads of Sino-Tibetan Relations by Fabienne Jagou; translated by R B Buechel. This biography of the Ninth Panchen Lama, the second highest spiritual authority in Tibetan Buddhism, offers new insights into the tumultuous history of the relations between China and Tibet at the start of the 20th century. It demonstrates how the Panchen Lama's flight from his monastery on the night of December 22, 1923, remains an essential characterizing event of Tibet's modern history. In China, the Panchen Lama became entwined with not only the Republican government, but also the world of international politics. By the 1930s, the prelate was to find himself a pawn in a diplomatic game played by China, Lhasa, and England for control of Tibet. His flight from his country set the stage for Chinese Republican, and later Communist, control over the selection of his successors, with repercussions even today for Sino-Tibetan relations.

Bayonets to Lhasa: The British Invasion of Tibet by Peter Fleming. Softback reissue of Peter Fleming's 1961 account of the 1904 British politico-military expedition to Lhasa. Based on official documents and recently available personal archives and correspondence by some of the leading figures involved, the account reads in places like a fictional thriller. Mixed motivations and now outmoded attitudes and political beliefs as well as high idealism and individual gallantry are shown to form the background and foreground of the seven weeks' occupation of Lhasa and the subsequent Treaty which led to the British departure. The confused scapegoating and name-calling which featured in the British military and civilian power groups in India and London, and the stance of the Russian and Chinese interests are all overviewed. The subsequent influence/occupation by China until 1911 and the proclamation of the independent Republic of Tibet is noted. Repercussions of this chapter of the Great Game of Imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia are still felt today.

Among the Tibetans by Isabella Bird. In this facsimile reissue of the 1894 account of her 1889 travels in Tibet, Isabella Bishop (nee Bird) the already well known travel writer tells of her last visit to Asia. She travelled by horseback and used a tent, but went in some style from Sinigar to Ladakh. Descriptions of people she met and situations - some hair raising - she experienced include a focus on Christian missionaries and their simple way of life in places far remote from their fellows. Visits to Nubra, Leh were hazardous and the final chapter includes descriptions of the manners and customs of the area. With black-and-white drawings.

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