Professor Charlene Makley

Office: 312 Vollum
Phone: 771-1112, ext. 7461

Since the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India in 1959, Tibet and Tibetans have garnered emblematic status in global debates on indigenous cultures and human rights. The widespread Tibetan unrest and subsequent military crackdown during China’s “Olympic year” (2007-2008) focused renewed international attention on the issue of Tibet in the face of China’s rise as an important political and economic power. Meanwhile, tightening political constraints and rapid development under President Xi Jinping have ushered in a new and complicated era for the transnational Tibetan community. Yet Tibet has long been both a cosmopolitan place and an object of translocal interest and desire. This course draws on anthropological theories of ethnicity, modernity, nationalism, space, and globalization to understand this phenomenon in its historical and ethnographic contexts. Working with a wide range of theoretical, historical and ethnographic writings, as well as a variety of other media such as film, popular songs, websites and blogs from in and outside of China, we consider the transnational contexts and causes of changing meanings of Tibetanness before and after Chinese Communist intervention. We focus especially on the historical and contemporary diversity among Tibetans across the Himalayan region and into the diaspora, as well as the changing political economic conditions of Chinese-Tibetan relations.  Conference. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. This course fulfills the Department of Anthropology's area course requirement for the major.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this course, students should be able to:

1) Grasp and describe key debates in the history and politics of Sino-Tibetan relations as well as of the transnational Tibetan community;
2) Grasp and describe a specifically anthropological approach to nationalism, ethnicity, and gender and how that could be applied to understanding Sino-Tibetan relations and Tibetan experiences of identity;
3) Critically analyze multimedia sources from a variety of perspectives;
4) Apply these approaches in writing responsible, compelling and even-handed critical analyses of cultural and political phenomena.

Distribution Requirements:
This course can be used to fulfill one of your Group II "History and Social Science" distribution requirements. It accomplishes the following learning outcomes for the group:

  • Evaluate data and/or sources
  • Analyze institutions, formations, languages, structures, or processes, whether social, political, religious, economic, cultural, intellectual or other
  • Think in sophisticated ways about causation, social and/or historical change, human cognition, or the relationship between individuals and society, or engage with social, political, religious or economic theory in other areas.