Prof. Tsering Shakya Asks Whether History Matters for Tibet

Khewang Tsering Shakya la

Anyone interested in the contemporary history of Tibet would know Prof. Tsering Shakya. He currently teaches at the University of British Columbia.  His “The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947” is essential reading for an understanding of the status of Tibet and of the complex Tibetan-Chinese relationship.

Some years back, I had the opportunity to watch a video recording of a lecture he gave at the University of California in Berkeley on the intriguing topic: “Tibet: Does History Matter?” It was more than an hour long but it was a pleasure getting his incisive view on the issue. Yesterday, as I was returning home from work this lecture by him came back in my mind. It could be that I was reminded of it as I was coming after hearing a panel discussion organized by ICT on “Buddhism as a bridge between China and Tibet?” with Prof. Gray Tuttle, Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies, Columbia University, being one of the panelists. Prof. Tuttle’s book, “Tibetan Buddhists in the Making of Modern China” is self-explanatory and goes deep into history in making his case of this special relationship.

Therefore, I just had to find this lecture by Prof. Tsering Shakya to share with you all. I give below UC Berkeley’s description of the lecture.

“Tsering Shakya, University of British Columbia
“Tibet: Does History Matter?
“Public Lecture from the “Tibetan Religion and State in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian Perspectives” conference
Friday, May 5, 2006, 7:00 pm

“In this lecture, Professor Shakya compares Tibetan histories — folk and scholarly, religious and secular, Chinese and Tibetan, local and exiled — to examine the process of selective remembering and evaluate how historical accounts reflect and construct different images of Tibet. He concludes that for people whose history is denied, history does indeed matter, because it is intrinsically tied to the formation of individual and national identities, to issues of justice, and to their precarious futures.

“Tsering Shakya is Canadian Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia at the University of British Columbia. His primary research interests are the political, cultural, and literary histories of twentieth-century Tibet. His publications include Fire Under the Snow: The Testimony of a Tibetan Prisoner (1997) and The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947 (1999). He also co-edited the first anthology of modern Tibetan short stories and poems, Song of the Snow Lion, New Writings from Tibet (2000) and Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947 (2003).”


5 thoughts on “Prof. Tsering Shakya Asks Whether History Matters for Tibet

    1. Dolma la. It looks like blogs in wordpress may not been seen in China. Word of mouth information dissemination is something that no system can block. With China’s increasing opening to the outside world this challenge will have to be faced by them.

  1. I like his talk. I watched that few years ago. It was very intereting. Thanks for posting that on the blog.
    I hope Tsering Shakya la is taking good care of his health.
    What I have noticed in our community is many of our intelectuals are not careful with their personal health and well being. We have already lost quite a lot of them and our community needs to be aware of that. Maybe the community as a whole has to be more responsible in avoiding this kind of misfortune. I don’t think one has to look eccentric and careless to look like an intellectual or scholar (its a misperception we carry)
    When the whole of Tibet erupted last year in protest, I was left thinking how Prof. Dawa La would have spoken and written about it. I thought about Tsering Wangyal la the Editor. I know we can’t undo the past and as a Buddhist, we can blame it on ‘Lae’. But we can not let such things happen again. And thats why it is important to talk about this and let the community know how we have failed in taking care of our intellectuals.
    I hope Tsering Shakya la is moderate with his smoking and drinking, if he has those habits. And I hope Buchung la you are also moderate with those things.
    Maybe its time to see how our bright and the best as doing now. Are their excessive smoker, drinker. What are we as community doing if they are.

    Just a Thought!!!.

      1. Nice idea Dolma la. I would think an appropriate Tenshug would be reading his materials and thinking outside the box on many issues that concern the Tibetan people.

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