Roots and routes : locating Tibetan identities in diaspora

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Macdonald, Helen en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Joffe, Ben Philip en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2015-10-25T16:52:38Z
dc.date.available 2015-10-25T16:52:38Z
dc.date.issued 2010 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Joffe, B. 2010. Roots and routes : locating Tibetan identities in diaspora. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/14265
dc.description Includes abstract. en_ZA
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (leaves 81-87). en_ZA
dc.description.abstract Cognisant of a legacy of exotification of Tibet and Tibetans, Tibetan studies scholars have argued for a certain instrumental internalisation of romantic Western portrayals by Tibetans. Exemplifying this perspective, Lopez worries that Tibetans have been forced to perpetuate limiting orientalist fantasies about themselves for political expediency. In reproducing Tibet as some hyper-real Shangri-la, it is turned into a floating signifier that loses its historical, nationalist, and political specificity. While I do not deny the relevance of such claims, I suggest that Lopez's formulation is problematic for how it risks implying that identity performed or articulated for an audience is likely to be less complex, less flexible, and to leave less room for personal innovation, socio-historical complexity and multivocality. In judging some self-representations as instrumental, the existence of a more genuine, entrenched, tacit Tibetan-ness behind such staged performances is presupposed. Seeking to problematise this position, I take as my entry-point the idea of instrumentality, and, sketching a rough trajectory of academic writing about Tibet, probe some of the dominant discourses and implicit strategies that emerge in the literature. I draw upon two months of ethnographic fieldwork where I interacted closely with the 'Office of Tibet' of South Africa (a representative organ of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)) and the three Tibetan families associated in various capacities with it. As a heuristic strategy, I attempt to locate 'Tibetan-ness' as it emerges (and fades from view) in a variety of contexts. Shifting from strategic and public performances of Tibetan-ness, to everyday gestures and habitus, and back again, I show how convenient distinctions between the public and the private, the local and the global, the political and the religious or cultural, are ultimately unsettled in the face of complex and contingent expressions of ethnic identity that take place in the midst of extensive transnational networks and audiences. As an alternative to a recourse to 'instrumentality,' I propose a rethinking of cultural identity as 'skilful'. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Social Anthropology en_ZA
dc.title Roots and routes : locating Tibetan identities in diaspora en_ZA
dc.type Thesis / Dissertation en_ZA
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Humanities en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Social Anthropology en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Masters en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationname MSocSc en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image


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