China Beat Archive



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September 21, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright September 21, 2008. Used by permission.


This second piece in our ongoing series highlighting “In Case You Missed It” readings on Tibet, is devoted to reflections by Charlene Makley, a member of Reed College’s Anthropology Department. She was part of the same Boulder roundtable mentioned in our first post in the series, and she is the author of The Violence of Liberation: Gender and Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Post Mao China, published last year by the University of California Press in cloth and paperback editions.

Having just returned from a year in Tibetan regions of the PRC, I am not completely versed on the most recent writings on Tibet and Sino-Tibetan relations. I can, though, recommend some key texts that have helped me navigate the historical complexities of the region.

For insightful analyses and cultural histories of Tibetans’ relations with Chinese and Westerners, I have greatly benefited from readings of Tsering Shakya’s Dragon in the Land of the Snows (1999) and Donald Lopez’s Prisoners of Shangri-la (1998).

I have been surprised that Ronald Schwartz’ book, Circle of Protest: Political Ritual in the Tibetan Uprising (1994), a close examination of the events leading up to Tibetan demonstrations and martial law in Lhasa in the late 1980s, has not been mentioned much when protests in the region have again been in the headlines. I met Schwartz in the summer of 2007 and he modestly remarked that his book was “dated,” but it seems to me that his analysis takes on new relevance now.