Truth, Fear, and Lies: Exile Politics and Arrested Histories of the Tibetan Resistance
Narratives of the Tibetan resistance army are not a part of national history in the Tibetan exile community. Drawing on stories by veterans of the resistance to the Chinese invasion and the explanations they give of its absence in Tibetan national history, I argue that this history has been “arrested” because of the challenges it poses to normative versions of history and community and, in turn, to internal and external representations of Tibet. This practice signifies the postponing of narrating certain histories until a time in the future when the dangers they pose to sustaining a unified Tibetan community in exile has receded. This practice of historical (un)production offers insight into temporality and subjectivity, plural identities in the face of national hegemony, and why history might be considered a combination of truth, fear, and lies. [history, memory, Tibet, war, national politics]
Cultural Anthropology has published a number of essays on narrative and violence. See Charles L. Briggs’ “Mediating Infanticide: Theorizing Relations between Narrative and Violence” (2007), Lorna A. Rhodes’ “Changing the Subject: Conversation in Supermax” (2005), Bruce Grant’s “The Good Russian Prisoner: Naturalizing Violence in the Caucasus Mountains” (2005), and Don Kulick’s “Speaking as a Woman: Structure and Gender in Domestic Arguments in a New Guinea Village” (1993).
Cultural Anthropology has also published essays on history and memory. See for example, Christina Schwenkel’s “Recombinant History: Transnational Practices of Memory and Knowledge Production in Contemporary Vietnam” (2006), Erik Mueggler’s “A Carceral Regime: Violence and Social Memory in Southwest China” (1998), Ralph A. Litzinger’s “Memory Work: Reconstituting the Ethnic in Post-Mao China” (1998), and James H. McDonald’s “Whose History? Whose Voice? Myth and Resistance in the Rise of the New Left in Mexico” (1993).
Carole McGranahan is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
LINKS FROM THE ESSAY, "TRUTH, FEAR, AND LIES"
The Government of Tibet in Exile
Website maintained by The Office of Tibet
The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
Camp Hale, Colorado
Historical overview from the Camp Hale Military Munitions Project
"Voice of Tibet" - documentary
"rights... & wrongs" (2000) - From The Tibet Museum, Dharamsala
OTHER MEDIA LINKS
The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet
Website supplemental for the film, including history, timeline, and resources
The Tibet Map Institute
Historical and geographic media tools on Tibet
Voice of Tibet
Independent radio station providing short wave service to Tibet
Boudhanath Stupa Boudha
Pictures of the site located on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal
White Crane Films
Films on Tibet
"Nothing Less than Independence" - Combat Law (2007)
Interview with Karma Norbu on the Chushi Gangdrug
Tibetan Studies Virtual Library
Guide to Tibetan Studies via the World Wide Virtual Library (edited by Dr. T. Matthew Ciolek)
The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library
International community building free access knowledge databases
OTHER ORGANIZATION LINKS
Dhokham Chushi Gangdruk - New York Chapter
Chushi Gangdruk chapter in New York
Central Tibetan Administration
The Tibetan People's Uprising Movement
Website for the return march from exile in India, marking 50 years of resistance in exile
The Office of Tibet, New York
The official agency of H.H. The Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government in Exile to the Americas
International Campaign for Tibet
A nonprofit membership organization founded in 1988 with offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, and Washington DC.
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
Nongovernmental human rights organization established in exile in Dharamsala, India
International Tibet Support Network
Global coalition of Tibet-related nongovernmental organization
RELATED SCHOLARLY WORKS
Goldstein, Melvyn C., Sherap, Dawei, and William R. Siebenschuh. A Tibetan Revolutionary: The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phuntso Wangye. University of California Press, 2004.
Knaus, John Kenneth. Orphans of the Cold War America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival. Public Affairs, 2000.
McGranahan, Carole. "Empire Out-of-Bounds: Tibet in the Era of Decolonization," in Ann Stoler, Carole McGranahan, and Peter C. Perdue, eds. Imperial Formations, Santa Fe: School of American Press, 2007, pp. 187-227.
McGranahan, Carole. (2006) "Tibet's Cold War: The CIA and the Chushi Gangdrug Resistance, 1956-1974." Journal of Cold War Studies 8(3): 102-130.
Shakya, Tsering. The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947. London: Pimlico, 1999.
IN-CLASS ACTIVITY OR HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
Students should make a list of all the groups, organizations, governments, and individuals who speak about or participate in the Tibetan resistance. This should include participants and groups from the past and present. For example, these can include NGOs, the PRC, nation-states, historical figures, newspapers and other media groups. Draw on the essay, resources from this supplemental page, and any other sources students come up with. After compiling the list of “speakers” and participants, have students map out the connections between them, identifying in small paragraphs, who says what about the Tibetan resistance. Is there a dominant story or position? Does this web or map of stories and perspectives tell us something new or different about the Tibetan resistance?
Discuss how this relates to our understandings of "truth".