Immigrant Ambassadors: Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora 9780804776318

Immigrant Ambassadors explores transformations in Tibetan identity as increasing numbers of Tibetans move from being sta

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Immigrant Ambassadors: Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora

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Immigrant Ambassadors

Immigrant Ambassadors Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora Julia Meredith Hess

Stanford University Press Stanford, California

Stanford University Press Stanford, California ©2009 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system without the prior written permission of Stanford University Press. Printed in the United States of America on acid-free, archival-quality paper Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hess, Julia Meredith. Immigrant ambassadors : citizenship and belonging in the Tibetan diaspora / Julia Meredith Hess. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8047-6017-1 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Tibetans—United States—Ethnic identity. 2. Tibetans—India—Ethnic identity. 3. Refugees, Tibetan—History. 4. Citizenship—Social aspects—United States. 5. Politics and culture. I. Title. E184.T53H47 2009 305.899541073—dc22 2008050749 Typeset by Westchester Book Composition in Minion, 10/14

For Matthew, Benjamin, and Lily


List of Figures and Tables




Note on Tibetan Transliteration


Introduction: “We Will Always Hold Tibet in Our Hearts” Part I Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States


1 Tibet in Diaspora: Locating the Homeland from the Margins of Exile


2 India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet: On the Trail of the Tibetan Diaspora


3 “Tibetanness” Where There Is No Tibet: Culture in a World of Nation-States


4 Refugees to Citizens, Tibetans, and the State


Part II Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness 5 The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project: The Lottery, the “Lucky 1,000,” and Immigrant Ambassadors

 


viii Contents

6 Tibetans in India: Deterritorialized Culture, Occidental Longing, and Global Imaginaries Part III Tibetans in the United States

 

7 A New Home in Diaspora: The First Years of the TUSRP, 1992–1996


8 “Culture Is Your Base Camp”: Tibetans in New Mexico, Youth, and Cultural Identity


9 Statelessness and the State: The Meanings of Citizenship


Conclusion: Tibetans in the New World




References Cited




List of Figures and Tables

Figures 2.1 Tibetan settlements in India


3.1 Demonstrator’s sign, “Culture is a good reason,” Dharamsala, India, March 10, 2000


3.2 Sign in McLeod Ganj, chas gos ni tsho’i ngo rtags yin pa she/ rig gzhung ni nga tsho’i srong rtsa yin/ (Translation: “Clothing is our identity. Culture is our life force.”)  4.1 Tibetan Registration Certificate issued by the Indian government


5.1 “Tibetan Rearview,” Tibetan Review, May 1993, by Lobsang Gyatso


6.1 Cartoon from Tibet Times, July 31, 2000, by Sonam Dondup


6.2 “Newcomer” refugees, March 10 demonstration, Dharamsala, India, 2000


8.1 March 10, 1997 commemoration of the 1959 Lhasa Uprising, Santa Fe, New Mexico


8.2 Santa Fe Tibetans celebrating Losar, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1998


8.3 Tibet demonstration, organized by students at the College of Santa Fe, March 7, 1999



x Figures and Tables

Tables 5.1 Numbers of TUSRP Applicants According to CTA Files


5.2 Numbers of TUSRP Applicants According to the Tibetan Bulletin


5.3 TUSRP Resettlement Sites as of 1993



a project of this scope and duration is a testament to so many people, it would be impossible for me to name them all. Further, in the interest of protecting anonymity I will not name many of the Tibetans who so graciously gave of their time, their insight, and their advice, and who are in all ways the inspiration for this research. I wholeheartedly thank all of the Tibetans in Albuquerque and Santa Fe for their willingness to talk to me, to listen to me, to review transcripts, to invite me to community gatherings to celebrate Losar, to commemorate March 10, and to mark the birthdays of their children. They welcomed me into their homes on countless occasions, and I thank them for their openhearted generosity in the face of my many questions and requests. In India, I must thank foremost my Tibetan language teacher, translator, research assistant, and most of all, friend, Ajam Gedon, without whom this research would not have been possible. I am also very grateful to all the Tibetan individuals and families who so warmly welcomed me into their lives and homes. In addition, my thanks to the staff at the Department of Home of the Central Tibetan Administration, Mr. Desang Tsering and his family for their many kindnesses, and Pema Yeshi and the staff of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives for helping me locate a variety of materials related to my research. Thanks to Thupten Samphel for giving me permission to distribute the survey to Central Tibetan Administration staff, and to Tashi Tsering of the Amnye Machen Institute for his kindness and advice. Also, I thank the staff of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the Tibetan Youth Congress, the Tibetan Women’s Association, and the THAT I HAVE COMPLETED


xii Acknowledgments

Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute for distributing the survey there and for consenting to be interviewed. Thanks to the staff of the Tibet Times for digging through past issues and responding to the survey. Thanks also to the newcomer English students and their teacher, Pema Wangyal, who responded to the survey. Many thanks to Pema Dorjee-la of the Buddhist Institute of Dialectics for distributing the survey at the Sarah branch. Boundless thanks to the over 200 individuals who responded to the survey—your thoughtful responses to my questions provided me with a tremendous amount of information that made this book much richer. In Bylakuppe, I would like to thank the settlement officers, administrators, and teachers of SOS Tibetan Children’s Village who agreed to interviews, answered many questions, and facilitated my research. In particular I would like to thank Choni Tsering, who arranged several interviews and was very kind during my stay. My many friends in Dharamsala, both Tibetan and inje, were a boon while this research was being conducted—they buoyed my spirits and helped me to continue on my way. I thank them for the sympathetic ears, cups of tea, and the many ideas that are deeply embedded in this text: Ama Chozom-la, Stefanie Bahre-Voltmer, Geoff Childs, Tenzin Kalsang Choephel, Benedict Copps, Namgyal Dolkar, Simon Holton, Randall Horton, Tiina Hyytiainen, Marina Illich, and Lhamo Tsering. In the United States, I want to thank the extended membership of the Tibetan community here that includes a number of non-Tibetans, particularly those who volunteered for the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico and sponsored Tibetans. For the sake of anonymity I will also refrain from mentioning your names, but so many of you kindly provided hours of your time and insight and will find your ideas reflected in this project. I also want to thank Dawa Lhapchug and Tsewang Chokden for providing translation assistance. I am also extremely grateful to the teachers of Tibetan language that I have had over the years, whose patience, love, and reverence for the Tibetan language stay with me still: Gen Tashi Woeser, Gen Sonam, Bill Magee, Gen Nyima Dondrup, Gen Sangye Tendar, and Ajam Gedon. Several people who worked for the TUSRP graciously gave their time to be interviewed: Edward Bednar, Nancy Lindberg, and Tenzin Taklha. I also want to thank Bobbi Nassar, who also provided me with much useful information and an interview. I have been very grateful for support in the form of a P.E.O. Scholar Award that funded a great part of the Indian field research. I also received support in



the form of an Ethel J. Bunting Award and a Student Resource Allocation Committee Award, as well as sponsorship from the American Institute of Indian Studies during my stay in India. Many academic mentors and colleagues have also contributed to the ideas that went into this book. Les Field, Frank Korom, Carole Nagengast, and Sylvia Rodríguez guided this project from its inception. Thank you for your continued guidance, support, and enthusiasm for my work. I especially want to thank colleagues and friends who have read various drafts of chapters and contributed much insight, advice, and laughter to the process: Debbie Boehm, Tsewang Chokden, Sarah Horton, Suzanne Oakdale, and Dianna Shandy. I am very grateful for the comments of Keila Diehl and the anonymous reviewer who read the manuscript; their comments have strengthened the book. My thanks also to Joa Suorez, assistant editor at Stanford University Press, and to my editor, Jennifer Helé, who shepherded the book through its final stages. My deepest love and thanks to my family, who have always supported me and my work in every way possible, by giving me the freedom to explore the world, financial support, and hours and hours of childcare. I thank my parents, David and Mary Anne Meredith, and my parents-in-law, Larry and Carole Hess. My husband, Matthew, has accompanied me through every stage of this work. It is his insight, his prodding, his editorial skill, his flexibility, his unfailing curiosity, and his willingness to drop everything and go to India with me (not to mention his delight in the reaction of Dharamsala momo-las who laughed as he did our laundry by hand while I did research), but most of all his love, that made it possible to complete this book. I also thank our two amazing children, Benjamin and Lily, who add incalculable joy to my life and keep me attuned to and even expectant for the possible worlds of the future.

Note on Tibetan Transliteration

FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE READER, for many Tibetan terms I chose the

spelling most often used in Western accounts, or my own version of a phonetic spelling of the word. Full Tibetan spellings, where appropriate, are given according to the Wylie system (Wylie 1959), which is used by many Tibetan scholars.


Immigrant Ambassadors

Introduction: “We Will Always Hold Tibet in Our Hearts”

named Namgyal1 watched her father, Lobsang, take an oath to become a citizen of the United States of America. Her father came to the United States as part of the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP), the first significant resettlement of Tibetans in the United States. He was one of 1,000 Tibetans who benefited from a provision in the 1990 Immigration Act that provided immigrant visas for Tibetans living in India and Nepal. She recalled that as she watched, her father swore an oath of fealty to the United States: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to support any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”2 She reported thinking, “Those words aren’t really true for us, we will always hold Tibet in our hearts.” This book is an exploration of the emergence of new ways of thinking about loyalty to states or to a nation, about the meaning of “nation” and “culture,” about the way states both constrain and enable these relationships, and finally, about the way Tibetans’ sense of themselves in relation to these ideas is changing. The advent of the TUSRP and, subsequently, the years during which this research was conducted (1995–2002) mark a period of time in which, more than ever before, Westerners have come face to face with Tibetans, and at the same time, Tibetans have confronted Western ideas about themselves and their homeland. For Tibetans in exile, Tibet is a site of nostalgia and of often painful memories, or for those born in exile an absence of memory. Tibet represents both a palpable sense of loss and, at the same time, it represents all that is most saturated with meaning, the raison d’être for many exile selves. The introductory IN 1999, A TWENTY-YEAR-OLD TIBETAN WOMAN


2 Introduction

anecdote, then, is more complex than it would originally seem. Namgyal’s and her father Lobsang’s loyalty to Tibet is not a rejection of a patriotic attachment to the United States. Indeed Namgyal and other Tibetans take citizenship very seriously and are grateful for all the rights and responsibilities U.S. citizenship affords. At the same time, they are deeply devoted to Tibet, and this devotion is not something that can be simply understood. Namgyal has never been to Tibet and her father left Tibet when he was seven or eight years old. Namgyal’s attachment to Tibet developed in India, where she was born and raised. Her sense of self, and of what I will refer to as “Tibetanness,”3 is built around a concept of “home” constructed in exile, primarily in India and Nepal, by people the majority of whom have chosen to remain “stateless.” For Tibetans in India, remaining stateless is a mark of a good Tibetan, one who is loyal to the cause. Yet, in the United States, Tibetans are adopting U.S. citizenship. What is more, they are doing so with the approval and rhetorical support of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which is located in India. As citizens of the United States, Tibetans are exhorted by the government-in-exile to use their newfound voice as members of a democratic state and the world superpower to be “ambassadors” for Tibet. This book examines the articulation of Tibetanness among stateless Tibetans in India and how this might be changing among those Tibetans who have resettled in the United States and are becoming U.S. citizens. Recent migration to the United States and the subsequent adoption by most Tibetans in the TUSRP of U.S. citizenship are a form of what Aihwa Ong (1999) calls “flexible citizenship,” referring to those immigrants from the Pacific Rim whose access to capital provides a route to immigrant visas and citizenship. “ ‘Flexible citizenship’ refers to the cultural logics of capitalist accumulation, travel, and displacement that induce subjects to respond fluidly and opportunistically to changing political-economic conditions” (Ong 1999: 6). Although at the time of this research Tibetans did not have access to the economic capital to facilitate transnational migration, they were able to successfully wield the symbolic capital of their statelessness in order to facilitate migration to the United States on a very small scale. What is of interest here is not only the social fact of their migration—its historical and political contexts—but also how this migration and resettlement in the United States reflect emergent identity formations in diaspora. The diaspora context is significant because it necessitates the constant calling together of disparate people across a broad geographic range. For Tibetans, the current historical period is particularly significant because it marks the expansion of the

Introduction 3

diaspora beyond South Asia, where most exile Tibetans live. In 1990, there were approximately 500 Tibetans living in the United States. By the end of TUSRP family reunification in 1998, the U.S. Tibetan population was approximately 5,000. In 2007, the Tibetan population in the United States was roughly between 7,000 and 10,000 people, thus constituting a significant demographic shift in the diasporic population of Tibetans.

Theorizing Tibetan Identity in a Globalizing World “Tibet” is much more than a place. Tibet is a concatenation of images that, for Westerners, call up ideas that have been centuries in the making. Of late, Tibet scholars have attended to the strong hold that Tibet has on the Western imagination and the consequences this has for Tibetans both in and outside Tibet. Peter Bishop’s work (1989) traces the evolution of the place of Tibet in the Western imagination from the eighteenth through the twentieth century. Images of Tibet are therefore palimpsest-like, where the “Tibet” of the eighteenth century—exotic, remote, and primitive—is still glimpsed in the nineteenthcentury ideal of Tibet as axis mundi, a place of refuge from the destructive forces of modernity. In Prisoners of Shangri-La (1998), Donald Lopez writes that perceptions of Tibet follow “a play of opposites: the pristine and the polluted, the authentic and the derivative, the holy and the demonic, the good and the bad” (4). A set of bifurcated images is the framework upon which turn-of-thetwenty-first-century discourses about Tibet are hung. These develop in the context of worldwide discourses such as environmentalism, human rights, and democracy that spread with increasing rapidity to every corner of the globe.4 The importance of “nonviolence” as a feature of the Tibet movement is another example of rhetorical positioning dependent on the Tibet-as-Utopia/Tibet-asvictim dichotomy. This book builds on the insights and work of these scholars. I argue that while these images are still powerful and certainly affect the immigration experience of Tibetans in the West, and Tibetans deploy these images to their advantage (see Adams 1995; Huber 1997; Lopez 1998; Schell 2001; Klieger 2002), Tibetans also “speak back” to these images and are in the process of creating new, more complicated images of themselves, for others, and themselves. Frank Korom (1999: 2–3) argues that not enough attention has been paid to the Tibetan case as diaspora theorizing has taken on greater importance in recent years (see, however, Houston and Wright 2003). This book addresses this gap in the literature. Recently, a number of scholars have made significant contributions as they have located Tibetan exile society and culture and the way it intersects with

4 Introduction

various globalizing processes or forces. Meg McLagan’s work on the internationalization of the Tibet movement (1996a, 1996b, 1997) and Keila Diehl’s work on modern Tibetan music in Dharamsala (2002) are examples. This work illuminates Tibet’s place in an interconnected world, undermining common myths of Tibet and Tibetans as premodern holy beings unassailed by the winds of modernization, or as swept along by “global flows” (Tsing 2000). My focus here on recent migratory movement of Tibetans necessitated a “follow the people” approach to ethnographic research (Marcus 1995). This book uses the macroprocess of migration as a lens with which to view the transformation of identity as it is in the process of morphing into something still recognizably Tibetan, but with different features. One of my informants, a thirty-one-year old Tibetan living in Dharamsala, explained why he wanted to go to the West: “I don’t want to be a pond frog to remain just in one country. I want to be a sea frog to explore and educate by going out.” This book, then, explores what happens when Tibetans move from the pond to the ocean. In an article that analyzes anthropological approaches to globalization, Anna Tsing (2000) suggests that attention to global flows often leads scholars to ignore the importance of human agency. My goal in this book is not only to provide a window onto recent migratory movement and the attendant transformation of identities, but to highlight the Tibetan motivations, desires, and actions that fuel, direct, and shape this phenomenon.

Rethinking Diasporic Identity In Global Diasporas, Robin Cohen (1997) uses the origin of “diaspora” as his starting point: The term is found in the Greek translation of the Bible and originates in the verb “to sow” and the preposition “over.” For the Greeks, the expression was used to describe the colonization of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean in the Archaic period (800–600 BC). Although there was some displacement of the ancient Greeks to Asia Minor as a result of poverty, overpopulation and interstate war, diaspora essentially had a positive connotation. Expansion through plunder, military conquest, colonization, and migration were the predominant features of the Greek diaspora. (Cohen 1997: 2)

Cohen argues that “victim diaspora” has become the normative way of defining and thinking about diaspora. By reviewing the Greek origin of the word and reintroducing its colonialist meaning, he reconsiders current notions of

Introduction 5

diaspora that include complex motivations for dispersal, reintroducing the notion of “imperial diasporas,” “trade diasporas,” and “labor diasporas.” Cohen builds on the features of diaspora outlined by Safran in the inaugural issue of the journal Diaspora in 1991. Cohen’s criteria are useful and comprehensive and, further, they raise questions that I wish to explore with the goal of illuminating something about the contemporary nature of diaspora. Cohen’s first feature—dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or more foreign regions (1997: 26)—refers to the fact that diaspora frequently arises as a result of cataclysmic events. Cohen’s second feature adds another catalyst for diasporic movement: expansion from a homeland in search of work, in pursuit of trade, or to further colonial ambitions (26). In making this point, Cohen recognizes motivations behind voluntarist aspects of diaspora. In doing so, he echoes other theorists, particularly Clifford (1994), and their concern for a more expansive definition of diaspora. I wish to look even deeper, beyond events as such, into processes, namely the unequal power relations that effectuate such events. To examine diaspora closely is to break open received understandings of the phenomenon by looking at both migration histories and the symbolic meanings assigned to these movements. For example, in addition to rejecting the normative model of victim diasporas, Cohen deconstructs the Jewish diaspora (often considered to be the prototypical diaspora), showing that victimization is only one of its aspects. According to Cohen, by characterizing the Jewish diaspora with the Hebrew term galut, which is a negative state “implying forced dispersal,” Israeli Zionists construct a narrow range of possibility for the maintenance of healthy Jewish communities. In effect, they are constructing a measure of authenticity that negates and effaces millennia of Jewish history. This is important in an examination of the Tibetan diaspora, because even though it began as a prototypical “victim diaspora,” originating with the flight of the Dalai Lama from Chinese occupation of Tibet, a close examination complicates the picture. Tibetans leave Tibet and South Asia for the West motivated by a variety of interconnected individual and social factors including (1) religious, economic, and political persecution in China and Nepal; (2) limited educational and economic opportunity in China, Nepal, and India; and (3) more “diffuse” motivations such as a “desire to see the world,” to further their education, and to raise the political profile of Tibetans internationally in an effort to regain their lost homeland. In Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin’s essay “Diaspora: Generation and the Ground of Jewish Identity” (1993), they embrace a Jewishness that is composed

6 Introduction

of multiple parts. “Jewishness disrupts the very categories of identity because it is not national, not genealogical, not religious, but all of these in dialectical tension with one another” (Boyarin and Boyarin 1993: 721). The creation of a Jewish state and the subsequent possibility of return does not mitigate or erase thousands of years of identity formation in diaspora. A great deal of what it means to be Jewish was, and continues to be, related to disparate processes of identity formation of a “community” that, despite deep differences and disagreements, still claims a multifaceted, complex, yet single label as “Jew.” This is what I call diaspora consciousness. I argue that Tibetan diaspora consciousness has emerged over the last fifty years of exile, and if it is nurtured during this critical period of diasporic expansion, this consciousness will serve to bind Tibetans together even as they develop new relationships and understandings of Tibetanness in disparate locales. Liisa Malkki’s book Purity and Exile (1995), in which she compares two different communities of Hutu refugees in Tanzania, has been critical in forming my ideas on diaspora consciousness. One of the groups was a refugee “camp,” Mishamo, and the other was a loose assimilationist “community” in a town called Kigoma near Lake Tanganyika. Malkki explores the very different relationship each community develops with “home,” history, and the appropriation or rejection of the category “refugee.” Through exploring the historicization of nationhood—the making of a national history and the concurrent process of constructing a national consciousness—Malkki has provided me with a framework for the discussion of the creation of “diaspora consciousness.” I suggest that diaspora thinking should be explored because it creates a powerful narrative of connectedness without always resorting to the territoriality of nationalisms. In short, exploring diaspora consciousness clues us in to the possible emergent “structures of feeling” (Williams 1977) of our (always and increasingly) hybrid world. Malkki adopts a Foucauldian notion to explain the way national consciousness was produced for the Hutu camp refugees. She describes the refugee camp as a “technology of power” [that] produced its objects and domains of knowledge on two levels. On the one hand, it helped to constitute the refugees as an object of knowledge and control. On the other, the camp served to produce “the refugees” as a categorical historical subject empowered to create a mythicohistory of a people. Its local, particular pragmatics conspired to produce— independently of intentions—historical narratives which reordered the lived-in

Introduction 7

world. Thus, as a technology of power, the camp ended up being much more than a device of containment and enclosure; it grew into a locus of continual creative subversion and transformation. (1995: 236–237)

The refugee settlements in South Asia, established with support of the Government of India, are akin to a “technology of power.” However, just as Tibetans in South Asia are moving out of relatively isolated refugee settlements to more integrated Western communities, in this book my theoretical framework moves beyond the physical circumstances of Tibetans in diaspora and looks closely at state categorizations of Tibetans as refugees, undocumented migrants, immigrants, and citizens, combined with state policy and the process through which Tibetans are transforming themselves from stateless refugees to citizens of a powerful state. Tibetan responses to these categorizations and processes, whether active resistance or more subtle forms of acquiescence or internalization, are key to the creation of diaspora consciousness. Thus, a key aspect of this notion of diaspora consciousness is that it is not created solely from the inside of a diaspora community. Refugees, as well as those with citizenship, are always subject to state power. In the case of Tibetans and other exile groups, their government-in-exile, although not a state, exercises some of the same kinds of power as a state in the Tibetan diaspora. Power works dialectically—internally and externally—to create a sense of necessary solidarity for those who keep themselves apart and simultaneously are kept apart. Narratives of diaspora are not totalizing. Echoing the Boyarins, the multiple facets of diaspora consciousness—that one is a Jew and an Arab and an Egyptian, or a Tibetan and a Buddhist and a U.S. citizen—must all be held in tension. This is the creative force of diaspora. Malkki proposes that consciousness is a process of discovering, or seeing “by those who are in the process of transforming, subverting, and creating politico-moral orders” (1995: 241). But where does consciousness dwell? Malkki says that the case of the refugee camp suggests that “historical consciousness is lodged within precarious, sometimes accidental processes that are situated and implicated in the lived events and local processes of the everyday” (241). The routinized administrative and social practices as well as other experiential circumstances of exile that characterized camp life helped to promote a specifically Hutu nationalism in Mishamo. The Hutu there saw themselves as a nation in exile and tended to speak of exile as a long period of trials and tribulations that would finally culminate in the regaining of their homeland, of Burundi. It emerged that this imagined community was animated by a profoundly moral

8 Introduction

vision—both of present-day Burundi as a country ruled by impostors, fake citizens, and of themselves as the exiled true citizens of the moral community, the nation. (Malkki 1994: 46)

I suggest that the development of nationalist consciousness as well as diaspora consciousness may translate to activism, for example Zionism, the movement for the creation of a Palestinian state, or the internationalization of the Tibet issue, which has coincided with the development of Tibetan diaspora consciousness.

Citizenship and Belonging at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century The above discussion of diaspora consciousness serves to create a kind of foundation, both historical and theoretical, to reveal current understandings and expressions of Tibetanness at the turn of the twenty-first century. Throughout the book, I illustrate what I see as a transformation of diaspora conciousness through an examination of the processes undertaken by Tibetans who are giving up their status as stateless refugees and adopting U.S. citizenship. Thus, the chapters that follow describe the bureaucratic maneuvers required to procure identity documents, travel documents, visas, asylum applications, citizenship ceremonies, and finally passports. More important, Tibetan responses to these processes illuminate their transformative nature, not only in terms of civil status, but in terms of identities. The discussion of diaspora consciousness paves the way for my argument that it is a mindset that fosters the development of multiple loyalties and attachment to multiple “homes.” It is for this reason that an understanding of diaspora consciousness reveals the cultural logic of Tibetan exile society that has enabled the expansion of the diaspora at this historical juncture. In South Asia, Tibetans have been encouraged by the government-inexile to remain stateless and to refrain from adopting Indian, Nepalese, or other citizenships. Remaining refugees keeps the problem of Tibetans’ statelessness alive for both Tibetans and the states in which they live, as well as for China, where the continual exodus of Tibetans from Tibet highlights human rights abuses and the lack of political and religious freedom that characterizes Tibetan life under the Chinese state. While Tibetans in South Asia are encouraged to remain stateless, members of the TUSRP were encouraged to adopt U.S. citizenship in order that they might become ambassadors for Tibet. This mandate was explicitly laid out in materials produced by the government-in-exile and distributed to would-be Tibetan im-

Introduction 9

migrants before they even left South Asia (see, for example, Central Tibetan Administration 1992). This is not to say that Tibetan immigrants to the United States were uniformly accepting of this directive and their “ambassadorial” status. During the course of this research I found that even while the vast majority of Tibetans in the United States have chosen to become U.S. citizens, they invest this practice with multiple meanings and understand its implications in a variety of sometimes contradictory ways. Yet, because the first years of my research were conducted solely in the United States, primarily with Tibetans who were among the “Lucky 1,000”—immigrants chosen by lottery to participate in the program— I was unprepared for the highly ambivalent reactions to the adoption of “foreign” citizenships that I encountered among Tibetans in India. One of the most striking findings of my research is that Tibetans are adopting U.S. citizenship in order to become more effective transnational political actors in an attempt to regain their lost homeland. Thus, following a number of scholars of transnationalism, I suggest that the meanings of citizenship are changing, not only among Tibetans, but among other “people out of place” as well (Basch et al. 1993; Coutin 2000, 2003; Glick Schiller and Fouron 2001; Ong 2003; Balibar 2004; De Genova 2005; Park 2005; Shandy 2007). In the United States, individuals are increasingly comfortable with hybrid notions of identity, and in fact state policy reflects these notions. Similarly, Tibetans and other transnational migrants articulate the possibility of holding multiple loyalties. Other scholars have examined the growing political power of diasporic populations (Kaldor 2007) and the implications of dual citizenship and nationality for transnational populations (Smith 1996; Boehm 2000; Bakker and Smith 2003). The case I put forth here builds on this research and suggests that these statements are true for diasporic Tibetans. Moreover, here I argue that Tibetans see the adoption of U.S. citizenship as a means to empower themselves as political actors for their lost homeland in a transnational sphere. In short, by becoming U.S. citizens they become political agents for their own lost state. I discovered that for Tibetans, the adoption of U.S. citizenship, both practically and ideologically, is seen to bolster or reinforce the attachment and national pride Tibetans have in Tibet. This is not and should not be seen as antithetical to the creation of loyal U.S. citizens. Tibetans feel that the democratic structure of the U.S. government, the concern for human rights issues generally, and specific concern for human rights in Tibet lend support for achieving a solution to their issue. What is more, exile Tibetans are contributing to a future Tibetan society through immersion and participation in a democratic society. On a practical

10 Introduction

level, U.S. citizenship allows Tibetans to maintain transnational connections more easily, through ease of travel, whether it is to Tibet or to India and other places where diasporic Tibetans live. Although Tibetans’ motivations for becoming citizens are disparate and complex, it is clear that the process, the act, and the experience of being a citizen are very empowering for them (see Chapter 9). Tibetans use their political voice effectively in both the national and the global arena. My research suggests that U.S. citizenship empowers Tibetans not only to act as citizens of their adopted countries, but to reinforce transnational family and economic connections and to (re)establish connections with their homeland. Many Tibetans feel that the adoption of U.S. citizenship does not make them more removed from the diasporic center on which their identities hinge—Tibet—rather, it takes them closer. A passport that allows them to travel more freely makes this “second exile” an opportunity to go home once again. Moreover, the freedom symbolized by U.S. citizenship also empowers Tibetans to be more effective activists on an international stage—fueled by capital, education, and increased mobility. The meanings of citizenship are transforming in an increasingly transnational world, and adopting U.S. citizenship for Tibetans, like other people, does not mean abandoning other aspects of their identity, including attachment and loyalty to other nations. At the same time, we must acknowledge citizenship’s potential to empower, its ability to engage individuals and collectivities in activism that, like their experiences, increasingly expands beyond local change to national and even global arenas.

Methodology This book is the outcome of six years of multisited ethnographic research conducted between 1995 and 2002 in resettlement sites in northern and southern India and in the United States, specifically in the New Mexico “cluster site” of the TUSRP. My research in New Mexico spanned five years. I recorded interviews with recently resettled Tibetans, both males and females, covering a range of ages, class and professional backgrounds, and religious affiliations. The research was also based on extensive participant observation that was conducted during Losar (Tibetan New Year) celebrations, commemorations of the March 10, 1959 Lhasa Uprising, celebrations of the Dalai Lama’s birthday, Human Rights Day (December 10, which marks the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama), and other community celebrations and meetings. I also tutored a number of Tibetans in English as a Second Language, as well as in U.S. history, in or-

Introduction 11

der to help them pass the exam en route to U.S. citizenship. These interactions were useful in that they allowed me to develop friendships with Tibetans and to spend time in their homes, participating in some of the daily aspects of life in the United States, which can be difficult in situations where one’s home and field site are the same. In playing with children, watching the Disney animated film Mulan on television, learning to make Tibetan sweet tea and momos, or driving a friend to the bank, the offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and doctors’ vists, I felt privileged to be allowed a window into the lives of Tibetans as they resettled in the United States. The Indian research was conducted in the year 2000. Prior to my arrival, I had spent a number of years studying the Tibetan language with private tutors and in an intensive summer course at the University of Virginia in 1998. In India I continued to study, in classes at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and with a private teacher, Ajam Gedon, who later became a research assistant. Some research was conducted using the Tibetan language, especially with elders and newcomers who preferred to speak Tibetan, but the majority of interviews in India, and all of the interviews conducted in the United States, were done in English. In India, I conducted interviews with representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, a number of settlement officers in various resettlement camps around India, religious leaders, educational leaders, nonprofit administrators, newcomer refugees from Tibet (both employed and unemployed), those who designed and implemented the TUSRP, schoolteachers, students, monks, employees of the government-in-exile, relatives of people who had migrated to the West, and even a man who had returned disillusioned from his time in the United States. I conducted archival research at the Department of Home of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the government-in-exile department that organized the resettlement. They graciously allowed me to go through the files and photocopy what I wanted. I also spent many hours at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives of the CTA looking through back issues of journals and magazines for any mention of the TUSRP as it was being implemented. Finally, I conducted an extensive bilingual (Tibetan-English) survey distributed in Dharamsala in October 2000. The survey’s focused demographic was young, educated Tibetans between the ages of twenty and thirty. Titled “Attitudes Towards Migration to the West,” this survey examined the differences between two groups: newcomer refugees and those “born refugees,” Tibetans born or educated primarily in India. With 211 respondents, the survey

12 Introduction

revealed interesting distinctions in attitudes not only between these groups, but also important differences in attitude differentiated by age, gender, and educational level as well.

Structure of the Book The chapters of this book are ordered in a way that honors the migratory flow of Tibetans in recent years—from Tibet to India and Nepal to the West, then to the United States, examining the New Mexico case in particular. Part I provides the historical, discursive, and state policy context in order to understand recent Tibetan immigration as well as Tibetan responses to the expansion of the diaspora. Chapter 1 begins with a brief discussion of Tibet. It is perhaps both ironic and appropriate that as a researcher of the Tibetan diaspora, I, like many of my subjects, have not been to Tibet. Nevertheless, as I trace the paths of the Tibetan diaspora, I must address the center to which the diaspora constantly refers. This chapter looks briefly at how Tibet has been referred to in the Western imagination in a geographical and political sense and highlights the relationship between Tibet and the United States prior to the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. In Chapter 2 I discuss the sites where the fieldwork was conducted. This chapter explicitly compares these sites along the primary axes that structure many of the chapters of the book—culture, politics, and economics—the areas many Tibetans referred to when talking about the impact of the expansion of the diaspora on Tibetans in exile. Chapter 3 explores how Tibetan exiles formally frame the elements so important to exile discourse. I argue that as stateless refugees, Tibetans must creatively wield well-worn concepts of “culture,” “nation,” and “modernity” in a world still ordered by nation-states. This chapter establishes for the reader the way these ideas have been developed by the Dalai Lama, the government-in-exile, and other elites in Tibetan exile culture. This formalized framework then becomes a backdrop against which we can examine emerging disjunctures and the changing nature of Tibetanness in the context of increased migratory movement. Chapter 4 begins with the story of the flight of the Karmapa from Tibet to India and the subsequent problems his status as a refugee posed for the Indian government. The case of the Karmapa highlights various difficulties the facts of Tibetans’ stateless status and presence pose for the Indian and Chinese states. I then trace the contours of the Tibetan diaspora in particular, examining the way various host governments including India, Nepal, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States have placed Tibetans in and out of the categories of “refugee,”

Introduction 13

“immigrant,” or “citizen,” depending on a variety of factors. Pairing state policy with the previous chapter on the discourses that characterize the Tibetan diaspora provides a framework in which to contextualize and understand the rest of the book, which focuses on Tibetan responses to these “structures.” Part II describes the advent of the TUSRP and the way Tibetans in India have responded to the project. In this section of the book I present an analysis of the data collected during the Indian portion of my fieldwork. Chapter 5 begins with an examination of the history of Tibetan immigration to the United States prior to the TUSRP. The rest of the chapter examines the establishment of the TUSRP by U.S. backers, its structure, and initial responses to it in exile society as evidenced in interviews and publications. I outline three primary areas associated with increased migration to the United States of concern and interest to Tibetans: culture preservation and loss, the effects of migration on the political movement, and the economic impact of migration. These three concerns create an organizational structure that underlies much of the rest of the book. Chapter 6 further examines the ways in which Tibetans conceive of culture and Tibetanness and how these are highlighted by the anxiety and excitement caused by increasing numbers of people choosing to go abroad. In this chapter I highlight the distinction between “newcomers,” or recently arrived refugees from Tibet, and Tibetans born in exile, and their reasons for migration, and conversely, for staying in India. Part III focuses primarily on data collected in the United States, specifically in the New Mexico “cluster site” of the TUSRP. A focus on one particular site is useful, as it illuminates the way local processes of identity construction articulate with Tibetan understandings and expressions of identity. Chapter 7 examines how the 1,000 members of the TUSRP were welcomed in the United States. The chapter focuses on the initial stages of resettlement, before family reunification, specifically the years 1992–1996. Unsurprisingly, the same concerns of culture loss and change, politics, and economics arose again, but this time filtered through particular U.S. national interests at the time—anxiety over immigration and its attendant economic “burdens” and an economy in recession. Chapter 8 explores similar themes related to the expansion of the diaspora that Tibetans discussed in previous chapters. However, the focus is from the time period after family reunification. Thus, much of the chapter is organized around parental concerns that arose after the arrival of spouses and children,

14 Introduction

and we see attention shift to cultural preservation and education. Interviews with Tibetan youth reveal complex expressions of emergent Tibetan American identity. Chapter 9 closely examines the processes by which Tibetans become U.S. citizens. While I attempt to show how the state subjugates its members, a focus on agency demonstrates the ways in which the state fails to subjugate its people. Furthermore, such an analysis shows how U.S. Tibetans understand their own experiences, mobilize resistance, and negotiate with the state in ways that forge new subjectivities. Throughout the book, my goal has been to show how dominant discourses and state structures, though powerful, do not subsume Tibetan voices. My goal is to demonstrate how Tibetans’ own views of self, as well as these same structures that supposedly contain them—“state,” “nation,” “culture,” and “Tibetan”—are simultaneously being created and transformed by Tibetan agency. Thus, Tibetans’ own sense of self—in relation to place and to various state entities (and in the case of the government-in-exile, nonstate, statelike entities)—is necessarily changing in order to meet new alignments, configurations, and challenges of an increasingly transnational and, as the Dalai Lama says, “interdependent” world. This book, then, fits in with other transnational theorizing that rejects the view that there is a process of flattening, of homogenization of difference across the globe. I argue that those who choose to engage with dominant discourse, to speak back to it, can perhaps have some influence on transforming that discourse in order to reflect their own experience in the world.


Tibet in Diaspora: Locating the Homeland from the Margins of Exile

Introduction IN APRIL 2000, I walked down the steep, winding road from McLeod Ganj to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) complex to attend a lecture at the Department of Information and International Relations by the sociologist Ronald Schwartz, the author of Circle of Protest: Political Ritual in the Tibetan Uprising (1996), about the protests and demonstrations that occurred in the late 1980s in Tibet. At the end of the lecture there was a question and answer session. A North American woman in the audience commented that there seemed to be a threat to Tibetans in exile from the outside posed by mingling with outsiders, especially “hippies,” who were plentiful in Dharamsala. Thupten, a young CTA employee who helped organize the talk, responded that “culture is not static, one identifies one’s own culture through interaction with others.” Then the woman said that she had seen “too much commercialization” in the byways of Dharamsala and in the stalls and shops that sell crafts and other articles and that this was “disappointing.” Thupten responded, “You were disappointed because you have an illusion.” Western images of Tibet as it has flourished in the Western imagination must be included in any account that includes both “Westerners” and “Tibetans.” There are many “Tibets.” We all have “illusions,” whether we are Westerners influenced by the fantasy of Shangri-La or Tibetans raised in exile.1 For this reason it is imperative that I attempt to present the “real” Tibet to the reader. As the quotation marks reveal, the “real” history of Tibet is, of course, subject to interpretation and always reflected through the positioning of the writer. Yet, it is crucial that I give the reader some sense of Tibet’s complicated 17

18 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

history and the factors that have led up to the current situation, including the presence of some 7,000 Tibetans in the United States. More poignantly for me as a researcher of the Tibetan diaspora, Tibet remains a ghostly presence behind every aspect of this project. It is a place that I have not visited, and in this way I am somewhat akin to my Indian-born Tibetan exile subjects who dream of a land, who yearn to see a place they have been told about all their lives, one that they cannot see because of present political circumstance. I am the student of Tibetan culture who has not been to Tibet.2 At the same time, for my subjects and for me, Tibet is a place that is undeniably real. Moreover, I agree with Donald Lopez, who warns that until Tibet is portrayed as a real place and not as the utopian Shangri-La of James Hilton’s 1933 fantasy, the world will not take the current situation in Tibet seriously (Lopez 1998:11). In this work, I do take Tibet seriously, as I do the Tibetan diaspora and the fact that the pain of displacement, the loneliness of exile, and the precarious nature of statelessness pervade the everyday lives of the Tibetans with whom I worked. It is the nature of people’s awareness of themselves as stateless, as refugees, as exiles, and as citizens that informs this book. This first chapter, then, attempts to locate Tibet in terms of its geography, its strategic political and geographic position, and its history. I will show, through an examination of various tropes that mark scholarship on Tibet, how complex, interrelated, and contested these “facts” are. By focusing on these representations, the aim of what follows is to present to the reader a nutshell version of Tibet’s location and history in a way that particularly highlights Tibet’s relations with its neighbors throughout the twentieth century. Furthermore, such a presentation foregrounds the way Tibet’s status as a political entity came into play as the Tibet movement gained momentum in the last decade of the twentieth century, which is the historical context of the research conducted for this book.

Representing Tibet Donald Lopez writes in Prisoners of Shangri-La (1998) that one of the reasons Tibet remains so mysterious—and an excellent present-day example of processes of Orientalism—is that it was never colonized. Beginning in the 1970s, anthropological theorists began to reject previous conceptualizations of cultures as static and isolated. Current views privilege contact and cultural exchange and thus, early on, I began to question depictions of Tibet in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature as a geographically isolated, pristine paradise with a people who sealed its borders in order to keep foreigners out (see David-

Tibet in Diaspora


Néel 1927; Harrer 1954). I still reject this romanticized portrayal, but Tibetans’ repeated assertions that their own isolation has something to do with the Chinese takeover persuaded me that, if I take my subjects seriously, these assertions should be considered, if only for their discursive importance for Tibetan exiles. In many cases, the conservative Tibetan clergy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did fight against increased contact with Western ideas and people, lest their positions of power be destroyed (see Goldstein 1989). Efforts by the thirteenth Dalai Lama (1876–1933) to reform certain aspects of Tibetan society were met with resistance from a conservative religious hierarchy. Thus, although Tibet’s geographic location, its daunting altitude, and its mountain passes contributed to its romanticization and to the fact that relatively few Westerners were able to visit, there were political forces that created the image of Tibet as a “forbidden land” and contributed to its mythic status. Unlike most of Asia’s Buddhist societies, Tibet neither came under direct European control nor did it make any real attempt to “modernize” (despite certain failed attempts by the thirteenth Dalai Lama) by establishing European-style universities, importing European technologies, or sending elites to Europe for education. Among the many reasons the European powers were deterred is that in 1792 the Manchu Emperor Qianlong declared imperial control over all Tibetan communications with foreign countries. This did not sever Tibet’s longstanding relations with Inner Asia and China. Instead, until the twentieth century, further relations of Europeans with Tibet were conducted from the borderlands. During the nineteenth century, Tibet became a cherished prize in the Great Game played by Britain and Russia, the two great European powers of the region. . . . It was during this period that Tibet came to be consistently portrayed as “isolated” or “closed,” characterizations that meant little except in contrast with China, which had been forcibly “opened” to British trade after the Opium War of 1839. Tibet was thus an object of imperial desire, and the failure of the European powers to dominate it politically only increased European longing and fed the fantasy about the land beyond the Snowy Range. (Lopez 1998: 5–6)

Following Lopez, we must place Tibet’s so-called isolation into its proper geopolitical context, revealing Tibet’s embeddedness in imperial and local power struggles. This book thus begins with an examination of Tibet that outlines its placement in a broad geopolitical context, closely examining its relations with neighbors and how these have shaped Tibetans’ and others’ understanding of its history and the current political situation.

20 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

Current political boundaries created by the Chinese have divided up what is often referred to as “ethnic Tibet” into several People’s Republic of China (PRC) provinces: the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu. Among these only the TAR has a majority of ethnic Tibetans. “Ethnic Tibet,” however, far exceeds the boundaries of both the TAR and the area of Tibet directly controlled by Lhasa prior to Chinese annexation and control. For this reason, it is important to distinguish between ethnic Tibet—those areas that were “traditionally Tibetan,” including areas outside of the present-day PRC (parts of Nepal, India, and Bhutan)—and political Tibet, which has changed through time. Tibetans themselves, when asked where they are from, often refer to their region or country (lung pa) or fatherland (pha yul). Traditionally there are three regions: U-Tsang or central Tibet, Domed (or Kham) in Eastern Tibet, and Amdo in Northeastern Tibet. The three areas together are known as Cholka-sum. As Tsering Shakya (1999) acknowledges, Cholka-sum is an idea “deeply embedded in the political culture of the Tibetan diaspora, where the core of the refugees’ political identity lay in the conception of Tibet as the unity of Kham, Amdo and U-Tsang. But although the idea enjoys universal support among the exile community, it has no recent historical base and it is difficult to assess the extent of support it might enjoy inside Greater Tibet” (387). Even in 1959, Tibetans in the eastern region used the term bod pa (now taken to mean “Tibetan” generally) to refer to people from U-Tsang. The Chinese word for China has been transliterated into Tibetan (krung go) and now refers to both China and Tibet, while the Tibetan word for Tibet (bod) refers to a region and ethnicity. However, “there has never been a word in the Tibetan language to refer to an entity subsuming both Tibet and China. Both were ‘nations’ (rgyal khab—literally ‘kingdom’), a term in Tibetan now used officially to refer to China” (Schwartz 1996: 220). In exile, Tibetans refer to Tibet as a “nation” (rgyal khab), thus countering the Chinese claim that Tibet has always been a part of China. Debates about the nature of Tibet’s relationship vis-à-vis China have inflected much of Tibet scholarship in the last century. Robert Barnett (2001) writes: the debate between China and Western promoters of Tibetan claims is not really a debate—in other words, it is not a process in which arguments either to facts or to interpretations are put forward by each site with the intent that the most persuasive argument wins. It is more the presentation by each side of

Tibet in Diaspora


a strongly held collective imagining that is persuasive only to those who already share that imagining. (271)

Thus, following Barnett, an examination of the way Tibet is imagined in the West helps us to understand the way Tibet has been and is now represented by exile Tibetans, by Westerners, and by the Chinese. Geoffrey Samuel first outlined his idea of Tibet as a “stateless society” in his article “Tibet as a Stateless Society and Some Islamic Parallels” (1982) and then in Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies (1993). Samuel contends that after the 200-year imperial expansionist period from the seventh to ninth centuries faded, the Lhasa-centered political system never mustered enough strength to rule more than U-Tsang, or Central Tibet. During the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries the nearest things to states to develop in Tibet were unstable alliances between aristocratic rulers and monastic orders. As time passed, the monastic orders became more and more powerful, and the last of these quasi-states in Central Tibet, that of the Dalai Lama, was explicitly monastic. . . . The picture that I am trying to draw is of a constant process of negotiation between local authorities, none of whom were in a position to dominate Tibetan politics or to create and maintain a state apparatus in their own right. (1982: 221)

The centralized nation-state (one “nationality” under a strong centralized government) is a recent development in Asia. Central Tibet was moving in this direction in the 1920s under the thirteenth Dalai Lama’s administration. However, the conservativeness of the monastic and lay aristocratic leadership undermined many attempted reforms. The Westerners who observed the system and wrote about it often did so with a view influenced by their own experience with governments back home. Samuel notes that early Tibetologists (such as Bell, Chapman, and Harrer) tended to take the Lhasa government at face value, “since it is only in recent years that Asianists have begun to appreciate the relatively limited degree of centralized control found in many traditional Asian States” (1993: 144). He also recognizes recent work that sees these states as “symbolic and ritual entities as much as, or more than, structures of real political control” (1993: 144). Because these debates are rooted in what Barnett (2001) referred to as the “collective imaginings” of the interlocutors, they are primarily useful, as McLagan (1996b) uses them, to provide a framework to discuss current depictions of Tibetan nationhood in exile. I am generally content to say that prior to 1959 Tibet

22 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

was an “imagined community,” but not in the way that is most recognizable to Western students of nationalism. The works of Goldstein (1989), Shakya (1999), and Smith (1996) all present the complex history of Tibet and its relationship with China. The Tibetan government-in-exile, as McLagan makes clear, has suppressed depictions of pre-1959 Tibet that are different from the standard one, in an attempt to conform to dominant Western notions of the supposed form of the nation-state. Diaspora representations of the Tibetan polity emphasize the Lhasa-centric view and the inclusion of Kham and Amdo as part of Tibet, thus construing Tibet as the entity referred to as Cholka-sum above. Moreover, exile Tibetans emphasize that all people spoke Tibetan and that its written form was uniform in all regions. The fact that regional dialects are often mutually unintelligible is not emphasized. Tibetan exiles cite Tibet’s “isolation” as one of the primary reasons the country was lost to the Chinese. Self-imposed isolation and the exclusion of foreigners are often used to explain why the international community was reluctant to speak out on behalf of Tibet (cf. Dalai Lama 1997). When China invaded in 1950, it claimed that it was not only “reuniting the motherland,” but also that it was protecting Tibet from imperialist forces. While Tibetans often cite the fact that there were only two foreigners in the entire country at the time (Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter, neither of whom were American or British), Shakya (1999) insists that we must not discount foreign intervention and designs on Tibet as a provocation for Chinese invasion. According to Shakya, “The Chinese had a legitimate fear of U.S. determination to undermine the new Communist Government of China. At the end of May 1950, the Communists noticed that Gyalo Dhundup, brother of the Dalai Lama, had turned up in Taipei and had met Chiang Kai-shek on 21 May. Taipei Radio reported that Gyalo Dhundup had arrived to seek military aid from the Americans” (40). The climate was shaped by increasing U.S. involvement in the region and shifting British and Indian concerns after Indian independence, and must be understood in a wider context.

Twentieth-Century U.S.-Tibet Relations U.S. geopolitical maneuvering in Central Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was minimal compared to the extensive interventions of British imperial officials, the Chi’ing and Manchu dynasties of China, and imperial Russia, whose military invasions, trade negotiations, and other intrigues were referred to by the British as the “Great Game” (see Kuleshov 1996; McKay 1997; Meyer and Brysac 1999). However, with the advent of the Second World War, the

Tibet in Diaspora


position of the United States in the global sphere was shifting. In 1942–1943, the United States sent two army officers, Ilya Tolstoy and Brooke Dolan, on a mission to survey Tibet for sites suitable for roads and airfields that might be used for transport between India and China. But Tibet’s government remained neutral and refused permission (Lopez 1998: 12). By mid-century, as the intentions of the new Chinese Communist regime to dominate Tibet and “reincorporate it back into the Motherland” became clear, the United States came to recognize the area’s importance in cold war politics (Avedon 1984; Norbu 1994; Grunfeld 1996; McLagan 1996b; Knaus 1999). The notions of “Tibet” and “Tibetans” and how to categorize Tibetans have been problematic for the United States since that time. Tian (1995) argues that the United States’ responses to Tibet depend on current strategizing with Tibet’s neighbors and alignment with current interpretations of “American” moral and political ideologies. Samphel (1993) notes that as early as 1949, “the U.S. ambassador in India proposed in a memo to the State Department that if the Chinese Communists succeeded in taking control of Tibet, the United States should be prepared to recognize Tibet as independent.” Yet, after the Chinese invasion in 1950, “the United States looked toward India and Britain to take the lead in raising the issue with the United Nations” (17). Today, the United States officially concurs with China’s contention that Tibet is part of “One China.” However, the U.S. government has increasingly engaged with the Tibetan government-in-exile, met with the Dalai Lama, and supported actions, such as the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP), that effectively support the Tibetan freedom struggle. John Kenneth Knaus’s Orphans of the Cold War: America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival (1999) examines the involvement of the United States, in particular the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the development and support of a guerrilla fighting force that would disrupt Chinese efforts to dominate Tibet.3 Knaus describes the maneuvering of diplomats and official state responses to events on the Himalayan plateau in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1947, the Tibetan government sent a commercial trading mission to the West. The U.S. State Department was aware of the implications of receiving the Tibetan mission formally. Moreover, the members of the mission carried “the first official Tibetan passports ever issued for foreign travel” (28). They had entered China via Hong Kong using Chinese passports at Chinese insistence. The U.S. embassy, reluctant to challenge its Chinese hosts, advised the Tibetans they would receive U.S. entry visas only if they could present Chinese exit visas— which the Chinese government refused to place on their Tibetan passports.

24 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

The Tibetans then came up with a subterfuge, aided mightily by a bureaucratic snafu or possibly a maverick diplomat. They confided to the British ambassador that they would pretend to be returning to India without proceeding to London or Washington. The ambassador, either obliging or ill-informed, stamped visas to Britain and its colonies in their Tibetan passports. London was furious, but it was partly the fault of Whitehall’s own bureaucracy. . . . In Hong Kong, the U.S. consul unaccountably placed their American visas on their Tibetan passports. (Knaus 1999: 29–30)

The parties involved in this example—China, the United States, and Britain, as well as Tibet—were well aware of the symbolic import of issuing passports and having other states recognize them. Echoing Samphel’s statements above, Knaus cites various documents and communications that demonstrate that the United States was prepared to recognize Tibet’s sovereignty. However, slow communications, miscommunication, and deference to other nations’ presumed or former claims in the region prevented this outcome. Yet, even though the United States never officially recognized Tibet’s sovereignty, its cold war mission to curtail the communist threat made covert assistance to the Tibetans and their fight against the Chinese ideologically feasible. As early as 1956, even before the fourteenth Dalai Lama (1935–) fled to India in 1959, the CIA organized, trained, and funded a Khampa guerrilla operation from Mustang whose role was to infiltrate Tibet, organize local resistance groups, disrupt Chinese supply lines, and gather intelligence. This covert activity ended in 1974 with Nixon’s rapprochement to China. The end of CIA assistance to the Tibetans was followed in the 1970s and 1980s by the internationalization of the Tibet movement, which was fueled by the global popularity of the Dalai Lama as he began to travel regularly to the West. This period is marked by the Dalai Lama’s Strasbourg Proposal of 1988, in which he gave up the call for an independent Tibet, accepting instead “genuine autonomy” under the Chinese state. Popular uprisings in Lhasa led to the Chinese imposing martial law in Tibet (for more on the uprisings, see Schwartz 1991, 1996; Kerr 1997). At the same time the Dalai Lama increasingly addressed European parliaments and began meeting with leaders of Western nations, though most often on an informal basis. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. United States–Tibet relations were characterized by U.S. contributions to the Tibetan government-in-exile and the establishment of a program to fund Fulbright scholarships for Tibetans in the United States. In 1990, Congress de-

Tibet in Diaspora


clared Tibet to be an “occupied country” and passed the Immigration Act of 1990. Section 134 of the act, “Tibetan Provisions,” established the TUSRP, which brought 1,000 Tibetans and their immediate families to New Mexico and some twenty other resettlement sites in the United States (see Table 5.3). Also in the early 1990s, legislation was introduced into Congress that would curtail China’s most-favored-nation trade status. And, in 1993, President Clinton announced that China’s most-favored-nation trade status would be made contingent on meeting certain human rights conditions, including its policy toward Tibetans. This policy was reversed in 1994 and China’s most-favored-nation trade status was delinked from human rights conditions. The next chapter explores the contours of the Tibetan diaspora, specifically those diasporic sites—the actual places where diasporic Tibetans live—where the research for this book was conducted.


India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet: On the Trail of the Tibetan Diaspora

Introduction LOOKING AT A GLOBE OF THE EARTH, you will find that Tibet and New Mexico are nearly opposite one another. As I embarked on this research and began to explain to people that I was working with Tibetans in New Mexico, I was surprised by the number of times I heard from middle-class “Anglos” in Santa Fe and Albuquerque that there was a genealogical connection between Tibetans and Native Americans. Sometimes people claimed Tibetans and Navajos were related; other times they linked Tibetans and Hopi. I was so struck by this phenomenon that I wrote an article about it (Meredith 2002). In the article I summarize scholarship that has investigated the connection, ultimately finding no evidence of a direct link. But the fact that people make the connection at all is striking and speaks to processes of ethnic identity formation in New Mexico and elsewhere. This chapter begins to address the real connections and relationships that have been forged as Tibetans have resettled in New Mexico, making an explicit comparison in terms of economics, politics, and culture, to better orient us as we explore these disparate yet connected sites that comprise some of the places Tibetans live in the diaspora. The Tibetan diaspora began, as most prototypical diasporas do, with a cataclysmic event: in this case Chinese occupation and the flight of the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet to India in 1959. In diaspora, ideological flows, past and present, combine and collide and influence the ways Tibetans represent themselves and are represented by others. Although these discursive elements provide essential groundwork for understanding identity construction, the fieldwork I completed for this book was conducted in actual places, meeting with people who 26

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 27

interacted daily in these particular localities. These localities were also situated in a distinct national setting and within a matrix of transnational connections: the Internet, a global entertainment industry, capital flows, and most importantly the bodies of Tibetans, many of whom have hearts and minds that dwell in several places at once. This book fits into what Marcus, in an article on multisited ethnography (1995), describes as the “follow the people” mode of multisited ethnographic research. The discursive elements that circulate in the Tibetan diaspora and frame ideas about culture, nation, and belonging among Tibetans living in exile are part of a larger, interconnected global system of discourse. Yet, these ideas cannot be reduced to a homogenizing sameness. Tibetans imbue them with distinct meanings in the diaspora as they forge new understandings of self and belongingness in an increasingly transnational world. In a certain sense, then, this is an ethnography of the particular cultural logics of a set of ideas; but just as significantly, I want to highlight the importance of the physical places where Tibetans live and how interaction in, with, and between these places affects the ideas that circulate as well as the formation of subjectivities. The comparative dimensions of this project must be understood in the context of these twin goals of the research—both to illuminate the cultural logics of the Tibetan diaspora, and at the same time to look at how these logics are shaped by the fact that Tibetans live in specific places with their own histories, geographies, and ideologies that mark the way they are occupied and understood by those that occupy them. As Marcus (1995) writes: In multi-sited ethnography, comparison emerges from putting questions to an emergent object of study whose contours, sites, and relationships are not known beforehand, but are themselves a contribution of making an account that has different, complexly connected real-world sites of investigation. The object of study is ultimately mobile and multiply situated, so any ethnography of such an object will have a comparative dimension that is integral to it, in the form of juxtapositions of phenomena that conventionally have appeared to be (or conceptually have been kept) “worlds apart.” (102)

The research for this book, then, was “designed around chains, paths, threads, conjunctions, or juxtapositions of locations in which the ethnographer establishes some form of literal, physical presence, with an explicit, posited logic of association or connection among sites that in fact defines the argument of the

28 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

ethnography” (Marcus 1995: 105). The specific places are to be found in India (both in the south and north) and in New Mexico (specifically in the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe). The “chains, paths, and threads” consist of many things and people and routes, among them the Tibetans I first met in New Mexico who handed me bundles to put in my bags for their relatives in India. The clothes, warm winter shoes, calculators, and cash that I brought to Tibetans on the other side of the world were among the many links that helped me discover what I present in this book. The juxtaposition of these locations and the materials that I carried back from India to the United States for Tibetans in New Mexico—the dried dri1 cheese, the religious artifacts, the books on Tibetan culture and rituals, cassettes of Tibetan pop music—are in many ways a catalogue of items that connect the diaspora. They are, of course, also much more than this: they symbolize motivation, desire, nostalgia, longing, and are emblematic of Tibetanness, an always transforming Tibetanness that includes calculators and cash—instruments to ensure that the political work continues, that cultural traditions are maintained, and that dead relatives are appropriately honored— as well as seeds blessed by the Nechung oracle2 to ensure safe travel of the anthropologist. Beyond examining the connections between different sites of the Tibetan diaspora, another important goal of this book is to contextualize the various “Tibetan communities” where I did research—locally, within their various nation-state contexts, as well as globally. Anthropologists had a great deal to do with the invention of the culture concept and its introduction into popular culture. Breaking free from the notion that cultures are bounded and separate entities has been an ongoing process in cultural anthropology since the 1970s. This is not to say, however, that bounded and static conceptions of culture are not still current in popular discourse, especially when one talks about “endangered” or “imperiled” cultures. As we have seen, since Tibet gained a place in the Western imagination it has been depicted as isolated, bounded by its extreme geography and the insular nature of its government. Isolation is an important trope in discourses about Tibet. And because it is important for Tibetans—the idea was raised again and again by informants in a variety of ways throughout the research—one of the primary ways it was discussed was in terms of the necessity of breaking free of isolation in a modern age. At the same time, however, it is important to recognize that Tibet has never been the pure, impenetrable isolated mountain abode imagined by Westerners. Tibet must be understood as part of a centuries-old regional and even global nexus of contact, trade, cultural exchange,

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 29

and political relationships with its neighbors: China, Mongolia, and India principal among them. Thus, at the outset I intended to examine Tibetan exile culture both in the United States and in India in their particular local and national contexts. As such, the “Tibetan community” I consider in this book includes more than just ethnic Tibetans themselves. The “Tibetan community” in this study encompasses those non-Tibetans who offered support during the initial stages of the resettlement, as well as friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others in the community who may not even know a Tibetan, but know of their presence and have something to say about it (to the ethnographer). Regrettably, time limitations and the scope of the research project in India did not allow for formal interviews of Indians on their attitudes toward the Tibetans among them.3 Conducting multisited research, the researcher traces the paths of diasporic connections. In this case, these connections between New Mexico and India are relatively new. What follows is an explicit comparison between the two localities where I conducted research, specifically along three axes that frame data presented throughout the book. These axes—culture, politics, and economics— constitute the themes Tibetans cited when talking about increased migration to the West. A comparison of the field sites, Dharamsala, India, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, along these same axes is also illuminating.

India: Tibetans’ Second Home Exile House Our tiled roof dripped and the four walls threatened to fall apart but we were to go home soon, We grew papayas in front of our house chillies in our garden and changmas4 for our fences, then pumpkins rolled down the cowshed thatch calves trotted out of the manger, grass on the roof, beans sprouted and climbed the vines,

30 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

money plants crept in through the window, our house seems to have grown roots. The fences have grown into a jungle, now how can I tell my children where we came from? (Tsundue 2000)

Creating home, as Tenzin Tsundue describes in the poem above, is an ambivalent endeavor for Tibetan exiles in India as they struggle to make a living, put down roots, and wait for the day they can return home. Tibetans invariably refer to India as their “second home.” The flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959 precipitated a mass exodus of Tibetans to India. Approximately 80,000 Tibetans followed in his wake and quickly established settlements, with the help of the Indian government, in India. Fewer than 2,000 Tibetans in these early years were resettled in the West (Switzerland and Canada; see Chapter 4). The United States did not officially sponsor resettlement of Tibetans (except for a small group of lumberjacks in the 1960s) and did not accept Tibetans as refugees. Before 1992, there were about 500 Tibetans in the United States. The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP), which began resettling Tibetans in 1992 and had completed the majority of its family resettlement by 1998, resulted in a large shift in diaspora demographics. Still, according to the 1998 Tibetan Demographic Survey (TDS), of a total diaspora population of 122,078, some 98,867 Tibetans live in India and Nepal (Central Tibetan Administration 2000a). The focus of this work, the expansion of the Tibetan diaspora and attendant changes in senses of belonging, therefore made it imperative that a portion of my research be conducted in India where the majority of exile Tibetans still live. The Indian fieldwork was carried out between January and October 2000. Because discourses about Tibetan culture form the backbone of the research, it was crucial to conduct research in the center of Tibetan politics and culture in exile, Dharamsala. Additional fieldwork was also conducted in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in one of the largest Tibetan settlements in diaspora, Bylakuppe. Figure 2.1 shows the primary resettlements in India. Tibetans scattered in some forty-six Tibetan refugee settlements throughout the Indian subcontinent describe their life ways as “authentically Tibetan.” In India, Tibetans live mostly apart from their Indian neighbors, and their primary interactions with Indians are economic ones. Beginning in 1960, the Government of India worked with the Dalai Lama’s government to establish separate schools for Tibetan children throughout India. As noncitizens, Tibetans are barred from civil service jobs and other kinds of employment, and from owning

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 31









CHINA (Tibet) U

































TAMIL Pondicherry NADU

Figure 2.1 Tibetan settlements in India. Source: Appropriate Technology for Tibetans,, March 21, 2003.

land and businesses outright. Thus, the majority of Tibetans are not well integrated into Indian society. From the beginning of the period of exile, it has been the express intent of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to enable Tibetans to maintain a distinct identity within the host society. Thus, it is by design that Tibetans in India are in many ways set apart from their Indian neighbors. The Establishment of Dharamsala as the Site of the Government-in-Exile In early 1960, the Government of India proposed Dharamsala, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, rather than Mussoorie in Uttar Pradesh, where the Dalai Lama

32 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

had been until that time, as a suitable seat for his government. The Dalai Lama’s residence, the main temple, Namgyal Monastery, and most Tibetan homes are actually located in McLeod Ganj some six kilometers away from Dharamsala. McLeod Ganj was an active British hill station established in the 1860s by the British Raj. It was abandoned after a serious earthquake struck in 1905. Most of the officials of the Raj relocated to Simla. The rest and the Indian inhabitants moved down to Dharamsala, where earthquake danger was not so precipitous (Avedon 1984: 84). Prior to McLeod Ganj’s incarnation as a Raj-era hill station, the area was inhabited by Gaddi, a seminomadic pastoral people who had goat herds and farmed in the Kangra valley, and who still live in villages around McLeod Ganj—Daramkot, Bagsu, and Jogibara to name a few. N. N. Nowrojee, the fifth-generation proprietor of a general merchandise store, had been living in the town virtually alone since the earthquake and had been actively seeking to revitalize it for some time when he heard of the central government’s search for a permanent residence for the Dalai Lama. He approached New Delhi, and upon inspection they found the place “ideal.” Avedon (1984) quotes the Dalai Lama: Pandit Nehru personally chose Dharamsala for us, based on what he called its “peace and tranquility.” From our viewpoint, though, it had good has well as bad sides. Delhi is the nerve center. The nearer to Delhi, the better the communication. Dharamsala’s disadvantages, then, were clear. But we also saw its potential. It was open and there was more room to expand. Thus, after complaining at first that we were reluctant to move, once our officials visited and formed a good opinion, we decided to shift. (84)

In 1998, according to the TDS, the population of Tibetans in Dharamsala was 7,238, not including some 1,456 people who were noted absent at the time of the survey, for a total of 8,634 (Central Tibetan Administration 2000a: 34). Dharamsala is very much the seat of Tibetan politics and culture in exile. Perhaps most importantly, as the residence of the Dalai Lama it is also a spiritual mecca, not only for Tibetans from Tibet who come there on pilgrimage to see him, but for thousands of Westerners who visit, often regularly, to attend teachings given by the Dalai Lama and other spiritual teachers. Indeed, many Tibetans stated that being close to the Dalai Lama was the principal attraction of living in Dharamsala. Moreover, several cited his presence as one of the factors that influenced their desire to stay in India rather than migrate abroad. There is still a substantial population of Gaddi, who attempt to maintain their homes and their herds while

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 33

surrounded by concrete Tibetan houses, tourist hotels, and restaurants. There are also many Kashmiri, Punjabi, and other Indians who come seasonally and permanently to McLeod Ganj to ply the tourist trade. Dharamsala is not typical of other resettlement sites in India. It is a center of tourism, politics, and learning, and unlike other Tibetan communities in India, it is not primarily agricultural.5 People in Dharamsala are generally employed either as CTA staff, work for one of many local nongovernmental associations (such as schools, the Medical and Astrological Institute, the Tibetan Women’s Association, the Tibetan Youth Congress, etc.), or own or work in local businesses (shops, hotels, restaurants). Dharamsala also has a significant number of unemployed people seeking work (243 according to the TDS; 3.4 percent of the total population, or 15 percent of the current workforce). Dharamsala can be reached by an overnight twelve-hour bus ride from Delhi, or alternatively by taking an overnight train from Delhi to Pathankot, followed by a four-hour bus ride to Dharamsala. There is also a small airport in Dharamsala, and it is possible to fly, but by all accounts the airport is generally closed. By Indian standards, then, Dharamsala is easily accessible to Delhi. My husband and I arrived by bus, in mid-January, just before dawn. We rode up through Dharamsala, up the switchbacks through the still-active military cantonment high on a ridge, past the Raj-era church St. John’s-in-the-Wilderness, and then finally into McLeod Ganj. McLeod is perched on the lower ridges of the Dhauladar range, which faces the Kangra valley below. On clear days inhabitants are granted a view of the crystalline peaks of the lower Himalayas. The buildings in McLeod seem to be precariously placed on the slope. These days most of them are made from concrete, but a few are still made of wooden planks, for many Tibetan refugees one step removed from the tents they lived in upon arrival. As I looked up from our hotel (recommended in the Lonely Planet guide as having a good vegetarian restaurant), I could see several layers of houses strung along the streets above. There were brown, terraced hillsides as well as green ones, thick with pine. Farther up they were shrouded with clouds, with bare trees sticking out from fresh-fallen snow. There were footpaths all about, and people walking to and fro—monks and nuns, laypeople, Indians, and Gaddi. Some people wore rags while others wore winter jackets and sturdy shoes. Below, one looked down on a path, which wound its way to the village where more local Gaddi and Indian people lived than Tibetans. I later learned that this part of McLeod is referred to as the “Amdo village” because many of its inhabitants are also newcomers from Amdo in eastern Tibet who cannot afford to live in the upper reaches of McLeod.

34 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

In the early morning many older women and men complete the lingkor6 circuit around the Dalai Lama’s temple, reciting mantras and spinning the prayer wheels. They generally arrived home just as I was waking to the sounds of people in houses all around us sweeping their roofs and balconies, a daily ritual accompanied by a cacophony of birdsong and monkey noises. When we went outside in the morning to brush our teeth and wash our faces on the balcony we could see other families below us and on each side partaking in the same morning ritual. The streets were often filled with people milling about, shopping, talking to friends and neighbors, taking their small children to school in the morning, and picking them up in the evening. Autorickshaw taxis and increasing car and truck traffic have made negotiating the streets a perilous enterprise, especially in the evening. It was difficult to watch for potholes, cow dung, and other obstacles, keep a lookout for oncoming traffic, and keep one’s groceries from being snatched away by the marauding rhesus monkeys who roam the hillsides all over town. Dharamsala, like Santa Fe, is a tourist destination. During the peak tourist season, which begins sometime in February—after Losar (the Tibetan New Year), which is often followed by public teachings given by the Dalai Lama—and lasts until May, the streets are crowded with Tibetans and Westerners. The many hotels are full and the restaurants that cater to foreign tastes with cappuccino, pizza, and lemon curd pie are busy serving dreadlocked hippies and other manifestations of youth culture. The “Westerners” are often of a type, and again, I was often reminded of life in Santa Fe. Notices abound for yoga classes, meditation sessions, massage, reiki, and other kinds of alternative healing therapies taught by Tibetans, Indians, and Westerners. I met people from Western Europe including Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Austria. Australians and New Zealanders were plentiful, as well as North Americans. I met one man from Mexico, a woman from Brazil, and several Argentineans. The Israeli presence is also very noticeable: there are several restaurants serving Israeli dishes, and a restaurant founded by a Jewish woman from California organizes a yearly Passover seder that during the year 2000 was attended by over 300 Jewish people visiting Dharamsala. The designation “tourist” for the foreigners in Dharamsala was often too narrow to encompass the range of activities carried out by these individuals. They can generally be categorized by their principal occupation while staying in Dharamsala: some are travelers in India who had read or heard that Dharamsala was an interesting respite from the ardors of traveling in the rest of India, some specifically sought out Dharamsala as the home of the Dalai Lama and a place to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism, and some are seasoned practitioners of

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 35

Buddhism who come to study with a particular teacher or to attend the Dalai Lama’s annual teachings (these are often older people, of middle- to uppermiddle-class economic status, and less inclined to grime and dreadlocks). This last group includes luminaries such as Richard Gere, a longtime Buddhist, friend of the Dalai Lama, and supporter of the Tibet movement as well as local issues in Dharamsala, who visits regularly. While I was there, Pierce Brosnan, of James Bond fame, came to visit and subsequently supported the Tibetan Children’s Village. Several days after his visit, I was chatting with some Tibetan friends who worked for the CTA who had used Photoshop software to playfully alter a picture of another friend posing with Mr. Brosnan, including themselves in the photo. There was always a contingent of long-term volunteers who worked at the CTA or with one of the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in town, groups of study abroad students learning Tibetan and studying Tibetan culture and Buddhism with the Experiment for International Living, and, of course, the researchers—those other visitors who stayed a while—usually studying some aspect of Buddhism. There were also a few other social scientists. My husband Matthew and I lived with a Tibetan family—relatives of Tibetan friends in Santa Fe—for one month. It was wonderful to be a part of the round of family life and to be able to see how one family lived. In the family we lived with, Ama-la,7 the mother in her late fifties, would arrive home after her daily lingkor circuit and offer prayers in a special altar room. A working daughter in her midtwenties would wake by seven and make Tibetan palep, a type of flat bread, and boil some eggs for breakfast. We would generally eat together watching the news from the BBC. Out of the house by 8:30 a.m., the daughter walked down to Gangchen Kyishong, the administrative center of the CTA, also known as the Tibetan government-in-exile, where she worked. She had an older sister who lived in another Tibetan settlement, but whose children were boarders at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala. The kids would visit during weekends and longer school breaks. The father, Pha-la, was absent at the time of our residence, visiting relatives in a faraway settlement. Both Ama-la and Pha-la often traveled seasonally selling sweaters, but were tapering off their activity somewhat as they got older. When we lived there, Ama-la was in town; she would herd Matthew and me out of the house by 9:00 a.m. so she could start her social rounds. I often walked down to Gangchen Kyishong, situated between McLeod Ganj and lower Dharamsala, where the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives is housed along with the other CTA offices. My Tibetan class met at the library every morning, after which I would generally have lunch with friends and then make my way back to McLeod to investigate a research question or two before

36 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

meeting Ajam for my afternoon lesson. The whole family reconvened for dinner, which was usually rice with vegetables and often some kind of meat mixed in. We would offer and sometimes actually wash the dishes while everyone watched Hindi soaps on the television until it was time to go to bed. After that we lived in a room that was rented out by a Tibetan family, priced for foreigners. There were other Tibetan families downstairs in addition to the owners. It was a prime location, one of the highest houses in McLeod Ganj, giving us an amazing view of the Dhauladar Range and of McLeod below when the clouds lifted. There were 128 steps up to our room, through a twisting, catacomblike tunnel between concrete-block houses. The hazards of wet, algae-slick concrete and small, yet ferocious Tibetan spaniels, as well as the cardiovascular workout, made every ascent an adventure (albeit an adventure that bent-back momo las, or grandmothers, managed multiple times every day). Once on our balcony, we looked down on the raptors circling below us, and we had the added advantage of being so high we could barely hear the dogs barking at night. Our perch was the perfect respite in which to escape the constant sociability of fieldwork, to write field notes, and to think about the course of my research and new questions I needed to follow. Structure of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile The government-in-exile, more formally known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), was established by the Dalai Lama on April 29, 1959, in Mussoorie, in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India (Department of Information and International Relations n.d.: 6).8 The CTA is divided into three branches: the executive branch or cabinet, called the kashag; the legislative body, or the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies; and the Supreme Justice Commission, which serves as the judicial branch. Prior to March 2001 and the election of Samdong Rinpoche as the elected head of the kashag, the cabinet head had been nominated by the Dalai Lama. Its members consist of representatives from the major Tibetan communities in India and Nepal as well as Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. Members of the kashag, or cabinet ministers known in Tibetan as kalons, were initially appointed by the Dalai Lama, but since 1990 have been elected by members of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (McLagan 1996b: 219). The Supreme Justice Commission, created in 1992, has the power to settle civil cases in the settlements. Criminal misconduct, however, falls under the jurisdiction of the Indian government. The majority of resources and time of the CTA is devoted to the two primary goals of the exile government: the reestablishment of some measure of auton-

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 37

omy in Tibet and the successful settlement of Tibetans in exile to ensure cultural preservation in the face of what exiles consider to be pervasive degeneration of Tibetan culture in China. Departments under the CTA include the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), which conducts the international relations of the government-in-exile through offices in a host of cities around the world (e.g., the Office of Tibet–New York; there are offices in London, Moscow, Tokyo and elsewhere). The DIIR also researches the current situation in Tibet and liaises with Tibet support groups around the world. The Department of Home is responsible for the planning and rehabilitation of refugees in the settlements in India and was the department that organized the application and selection process for the TUSRP. There are Departments of Religion and Culture, Finance, Education, Security, and Health. The government-in-exile has not been recognized by any nation-state, including India. Nevertheless, India has given the government-in-exile much leeway in determining policy for its subjects in India. More importantly, as I will explore in the following chapter, the power of the government-in-exile lies in its ability to generate loyalty from exile Tibetans in a context where it holds very little actual authority over them. That it has largely continued to do so after fifty years of exile is a testament to the Dalai Lama’s stature and the devotion of his followers, as well as to the democratic transformations that have taken place within the exile government.9 Tibetan NGOs There are also several NGOs that serve important roles in the exile community. The Tibetan Youth Congress has the largest membership of any exile NGO. Its platform calls for independence for Tibet rather than the genuine autonomy option outlined by the Dalai Lama and the government-in-exile. The Tibetan Women’s Association came to prominence during the 1995 Women’s Conference in Beijing, where Tibetan women effectively protested China’s attempts to exclude them from the forum. Images of Tibetan women with gags covering their mouths focused worldwide attention on the plight of Tibetans. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, established in 1996, has served to call attention to the numbers of political prisoners in Tibet and has a variety of projects that document human rights abuses in Tibet. Bylakuppe, Karnataka, South India McLeod’s status as the seat of Tibetan exile politics and culture sets it apart from the rest of the Tibetan settlements in India. It is, however, an important

38 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

place to observe the development of exile discourses. Tibetans in New Mexico made it clear to me before my arrival in India that if I wanted to see how Tibetans in India really lived I would have to visit other settlements. Many of the Tibetans I had met in New Mexico were from Bylakuppe, and since it is the largest of the Tibetan refugee settlements in India I decided to do some portion of my fieldwork there if it proved possible.10 By 1962, large Tibetan settlements had been established in Karnataka state, in southern India. The land was leased to the Tibetans by the Karnataka state government. This was considered to be undeveloped land that the Tibetans could convert into agricultural settlements. Goldstein (1978) writes of the establishment of the large agricultural settlements in southern India: “The idea was to resettle Tibetans then living in transit camps or working on road repair gangs and provide them assistance and resources so that within a period of five years they could become economically self-sufficient. This, if successful, would not only permanently take care of the refugee population, but it would also help India’s food needs by bringing unused land under cultivation” (398). Karnataka state offered to lease 3,000 acres of undeveloped land to the Tibetans. Bylakuppe, located fifty-two miles west of the city of Mysore, came to be the largest settlement of Tibetans in India. Inhabitants initially received approximately one acre per person on which to grow crops. There are six camps. Originally each had 100 households of approximately five people each, thus accounting for the original population of 3,000. Another settlement, Dickey Larsoe, also called the new settlement, was added in 1971. Informants repeatedly referred to the early years with pride in their achievement of clearing the land, often facing elephants who were angry at the human intrusion, and creating what today is a settlement that provides at least a minimal standard of living to the inhabitants. During almost every interview I conducted in the settlement of Bylakuppe, informants told me the story of clearing the jungle-like foliage, the danger of being trampled by wild elephants, and the substandard housing that marked their first years in south India. Several recounted that on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s first visit he stayed in a tent. Today, the settlement continues to be primarily agricultural and handicraftbased. Most Tibetans hire Indians to work their land, which is primarily used to grow corn as a feed crop and other products sold through the cooperative society managed by the settlement. Each family holds an average of five acres. A man who runs an experimental farm told me that the average profit on one

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 39

acre of corn is 2,000 rupees (Rs), so with five acres a family averages a profit of Rs10,000 ($250) per year. There is no irrigation and so the farmers must rely on the rain of the monsoon to produce one crop per year. A large number of people in the settlements cannot rely on the income from their small plots and must find other sources of income. A large proportion of Tibetans in India have resorted to itinerant selling to provide enough income for their families to survive. An article by Bhuchung Tsering reprinted in the Tibetan Review (1981) describes the history of the enterprise. Apparently, soon after the establishment of the settlements, Tibetans found it difficult to earn enough from their crops alone. A few Tibetans began selling “hand-knitted home-made Tibetan sweaters. They would buy wool with whatever little money they possessed and while the ladies knitted the sweaters at home, the man sold them in the nearby Indian town” (23). Eventually, they began to contract with Indian manufacturers to produce the sweaters. Generally, Tibetans order sweaters from a factory in Ludhiana and spend the winter months, October through February, traveling through India and Nepal selling their wares. According to the government-in-exile, 29 percent of Tibetans rely on sweater selling for their income (Government of Tibet in Exile 2003). According to the TDS, of 1,072 main workers with secondary work, 506 were counted as sweater sellers (Central Tibetan Administration 2000b, vol. 2: 559). Another exile government document reports that just under one-third of Tibetan women in India sell sweaters as a source of income (Central Tibetan Administration 1995). In 1998, the population of the two settlements that make up Bylakuppe, Lusung Sandupling and Dickey Larsoe, was 10,727 including 3,261 monastics, primarily monks living in six monasteries and one nunnery located in the settlements. A collection of numbered “camps” make up the settlement. The settlement includes Sera, one of the three large Gelugpa monastic centers relocated in exile. There is also a Nyingmapa Monastery in Camp 3. There is a small commercial center in Camp 1 that includes stores that sell clothing, two restaurants, an ice cream shop, the settlement office for Lusung Sandupling, and an Internet café that was established just at the time of our arrival in July 2000. Further down the road are ch’ortens11 and the Central Tibetan School and SOS Tibetan Children’s Village, as well as a medical and astrological institute. My husband Matthew, my research assistant Ajam, and I rode the Karnataka Express, a thirty-six-hour train ride from Delhi to Banglaore, in order to conduct research for a month in Bylakuppe. Once we reached Banglaore, we

40 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

took another train to Mysore, and then from Mysore a three-hour bus ride to the town of Kushal Nagar, which lies just outside Bylakuppe. During the research period we stayed in a guesthouse in the large monastic college of Sera Je. From our window each morning we could hear and see a household of monks begin their morning chanting, their deep singsong voices greeting us at different times of the day. I liked to watch the young monks squirm and often run about the courtyard as the older monks got them back in line. Ajam and I hired three-wheeled autorickshaw motor scooters driven by Indians, generally blaring loud Hindi music, to drive us through the settlement, over mostly dirt roads between fields of corn to various settlements as we interviewed over twenty people during our month-long stay. I was surprised and, I must admit, doubtful when I first heard that most families in the settlement had a relative abroad. Subsequent interviews, however, convinced me that this was the case. Households had family members not only in the United States as a result of the TUSRP and subsequent migration, but also in Europe and Taiwan (it turns out that a significant proportion of the residents of Camp 4, Lusung Sandupling, migrated to Taiwan in the 1980s). As with the research in Dharamsala, one important tactic of mine was to visit a number of institutions in order to collect as much data as possible on the “culture” discourse and individuals’ responses to it, as well as to ascertain the effect of increased migration to the West. We visited SOS Tibetan Children’s Village, the local settlement office, a nunnery, and an experimental farm. In addition, we interviewed the Abbot of Sera Je monastery, two geshes, and a number of monks on an informal basis. We visited another residential school and talked with families who had relatives in the United States as a part of the TUSRP or on tourist or work visas.

New Mexico As a result of the TUSRP, a significant demographic shift occurred in the diaspora population. Given that 1,000 individuals plus their immediate family members received visas, I estimate that approximately 5,000 people were included in the TUSRP. Thus, using an estimate that does not include those here on tourist visas, or those who have applied or are planning to apply for asylum, a very conservative estimate of the total number of Tibetans in the United States is 5,500. Still this population is a significant proportion—approximately 4.5 percent—of the entire exile population, which, according to the 1998 TDS, is 122,078.12

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 41

The New Mexico “cluster site” was organized as part of the TUSRP beginning around 1991. The primary organizer was Anasuya Weil, a woman who had recently relocated to New Mexico with her husband from the East Coast of the United States. She organized a group of volunteers who found employment and sponsors for the thirty-three Tibetan individuals who became the “anchor relatives.” Divided roughly evenly between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, these Tibetans joined the small number of Tibetans already living in New Mexico. Tibetans who lived in Santa Fe prior to the advent of the TUSRP included a distinguished scholar, a man who had built a nonprofit organization supporting projects in Tibet and in exile, a lama at a Buddhist stupa built by Westerners who practice Tibetan Buddhism, and another single man who would eventually marry and also create a family. Of the thirty-three anchor relatives who arrived in 1992–1993, twenty-two were male and eleven were female.13 Upon first encountering Tibetans in New Mexico and considering a range of possible research topics associated with Tibetan immigration to the United States, it quickly dawned on me that doing fieldwork in Santa Fe and Albuquerque would not only be convenient, since it was my place of residence, but that these were interesting sites in which to locate the research. Locating processes of integration of refugees into U.S. society in a specific locale with its own particular conjunction of geography, population, economics, and politics demonstrates the way identity construction reflects a set of particular, localized practices. Although I attempt to ground the study in the national, in particular the historical and cultural processes occurring when Tibetans of the TUSRP began to arrive in the United States, a focus on one resettlement site has proven to be illuminating. The relatively small number of Tibetans in this resettlement site also lends itself to ethnographic field methods that rely on in-depth interviews and participant observation. It was initially for these reasons that I decided to work in one particular resettlement site. According to year 2000 U.S. Census data, the total population of New Mexico was 1,819,046. Population figures for the city of Santa Fe were 62,203. The population of Albuquerque was 448,607. The Asian population of Santa Fe was 791, and that of Albuquerque was 10,068. According to the census, the state’s Asian population was 1.1 percent of the total, compared with 3.6 percent of the total U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau 2002). In New Mexico, the entire Asian population is only around 1 percent of the total population; moreover, there were just over 100 Tibetans living in the state of New Mexico, constituting less than 1 percent of the total number of Asians in the state. Nevertheless, there was a high level of awareness of the Tibetan presence in New Mexico.

42 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

When I asked Tibetans about their initial reactions to New Mexico, many of them commented on how it looked like Tibet, with its wide open, bright-blue sky, the dry high desert landscape, the foothills marked by piñon and juniper (which also grows in Tibet and is burned as incense in many rituals), and the brown adobe buildings against the backdrop of brown mountains. One teenager told me soon after his arrival that he expected Albuquerque to be “more shiny” than it was. His vision of an American city was shaped by Hollywood. In Santa Fe, most Tibetans live in the same neighborhood. This geographical proximity was facilitated by the receipt of a grant through the Frost Foundation and administered by another local nonprofit organization, Neighborhood Housing Services, which provided Tibetans in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe with access to a revolving loan fund offering low interest rates to allow the purchase of homes. In Santa Fe, a new development was being planned and most Tibetans with families elected to live there. Close proximity means that children are able to attend the same schools and have Tibetan playmates close by after school; it also facilitates more frequent meetings among adults in a society that affords very little leisure time for adult workers, especially recent immigrants who often work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Although clustered together in the same neighborhood on Santa Fe’s west side, unlike in India where Tibetans have mostly Tibetans for neighbors, Tibetans have mostly Hispano and Anglo neighbors in a community where they comprise but a very small minority. In Albuquerque, no such housing development was under construction at the time of entry into the revolving loan fund. Moreover, the population of Albuquerque is much larger; it is a typical sprawling western U.S. city. Tibetan families in Albuquerque are mostly spread across the northeastern quadrant of the city and the city’s rapidly growing west side. Tibetans arrived at a time of economic recession and a period of relatively high unemployment in the United States.14 About half of the Tibetans had a relatively high skill level before their arrival here, whereas half were considered unskilled (see Chapter 5 on the TUSRP for a detailed explanation of the structure of the project). Still, regardless of initial skill level, most Tibetans had to settle for low-paying entry-level jobs upon arrival in the United States. New Mexico’s economy is based—apart from heavy reliance on the Department of Energy’s facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory—on tourism. Santa Fe especially relies on tourism and is primarily a service economy. Employment figures for Santa Fe (nonagricultural employment by major sector) show that 20.8 percent of jobs were in the wholesale and retail sector, while

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 43

another 30.2 percent were in the services and miscellaneous sector. Government was the largest sector with 34.6 percent. The other sectors—manufacturing, construction and mining, transportation and utilities, and finance, insurance, and real estate—together totaled only 14.3 percent. From these figures it is clear that the vast majority of employment opportunities in Santa Fe exist in the service and retail sector (government jobs are not a viable option for newly arrived immigrants). Tibetans were able to find jobs relatively easily within the service sector. Initially, a number of businesses hired several Tibetans at a time, including the Hyatt Hotel; Bandelier, a paper making company; Wild Oats, a national health food chain; and Ten Thousand Waves, a local Japanese spa. A large number of Tibetans in Albuquerque work for American Home Furnishings. Other Tibetans living in New Mexico work as in-home assistants to the sick and elderly and in private homes as nannies, gardeners, and housecleaners.

Connections As we have seen, Tibet has long held a place in the Western imagination. In somewhat parallel fashion, New Mexico has been constructed as the “Orient” of the American West. In many respects, an explicit comparison between Dharamsala and Santa Fe is illuminating. The tourist gaze is instrumental in both locales, in terms of cultural performance, ethnic relations, economics, and in many other ways. Yet, when one looks at Tibetans’ place in the culture, economy, and politics of each site, one finds important differences. Like Santa Fe, Dharamsala is a tourist town. And the allure of the “other” and a search for proximity to a “spiritually infused ‘other’ ” (Rodríguez 2001) is the basis for much of the attraction in both places. In Santa Fe, Native Americans of the Pueblos are the romanticized “other.” Santa Fe tourist and museum boosters and others have long depicted New Mexico’s cultural landscape as one of tricultural harmony.15 As Asians, Tibetans do not have a place among the tripartite arrangement of Hispanos, Native Americans, and Anglos living in supposed harmony. Yet, as I have examined elsewhere, from the beginning of the TUSRP and as the Tibetan presence is increasingly felt, in New Mexico whites or “Anglos” often explicitly refer to Tibetans’ place in the “Indian slot” of the tricultural myth (Meredith 2002). In India, the creation and maintenance of settlements set apart from their Indian neighbors has led to the assertion by Tibetans that Tibetan culture has been authentically preserved in exile. The fact that isolated Tibetan settlements are not feasible in the West is, in fact, one of the most often stated objections to

44 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

the expansion of the diaspora. Integration into dominant, non-Tibetan societies is often cited as one of the factors that will lead to “culture loss.” This is true, although in India’s stratified, caste-based society (where Tibetans as outsiders and Buddhists literally do not have a place), Tibetans’ sense as a people apart has been explicitly maintained and nurtured by the government-in-exile. As we have seen, Tibetan settlements are largely isolated from local Indian populations, the majority of Tibetan children attend separate schools, and until recently the CTA was able to employ many of the Tibetan graduates within its ranks. Tibetans in New Mexico live among their predominantly Hispano and Anglo neighbors. Tibetans also attend public or private schools in which they are a decided minority. They are employed in a variety of jobs, primarily in the service sector. Moreover, unlike in India where Tibetans remain stateless refugees, in the United States Tibetans are adopting U.S. citizenship. In India, Tibetans have been on the economic periphery for a variety of reasons. Legal status as noncitizens—as stateless people and de facto refugees with residency permits they must renew every year—bars Tibetans from many kinds of employment, particularly civil service jobs and the regular Indian military. They also cannot legally own land or a business outright. A few Tibetans have adopted Indian citizenship to take advantage of some of the opportunities citizenship affords. However, the vast majority of Tibetans in India have chosen to remain stateless (see DeVoe 1987; Garratt 1997). Goldstein (1978), whose early research on the Tibetan settlements in India included an examination of the economic structure of the settlements and the relationship of Tibetans with Indian society, noted that relations between Indians and Tibetans were markedly unstrained because Tibetans and Indians occupied different economic specialization niches (403–404, 416–417). In urban settings at least, where Tibetans have more contact with local Indians, or perhaps where economic differentiation between Indians and Tibetans is more noticeable, there have been some tensions over the last fifteen years. The focus of the government-in-exile on education over the last five decades has resulted in two generations of highly educated Tibetans. While the first generation was fairly easily accommodated with jobs in the CTA, this is no longer the case. Young Tibetans with Indian, North American, or European college degrees are increasingly having a difficult time finding work in the exile government. Often, even those that do obtain a job find themselves working in jobs outside of their area of expertise. What is more, since the late 1980s new refugees from Tibet continue to arrive at a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 per year, thus adding to the strain

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 45

on the government-in-exile to provide for them. They are encouraged to return to Tibet after receiving an education (see Chapter 4), but many of them choose to stay on. Some find gainful employment, but others add to the ranks of the unemployed young Tibetans who spend their days hanging out in Dharamsala, walking the streets, often developing relationships with foreigners in order to get by. The development of the TUSRP has had an impact on all these dynamics, which will be explored in much greater detail throughout the rest of the book. By remaining stateless in India, Tibetans have a limited voice in the workings of a democratic state. In many ways the government of India has been particularly generous to the Tibetan refugees in its midst, especially compared to other refugee populations in India. However, India’s precarious relationship with China predisposes the Government of India to be cautious about the freedoms it allows even the Dalai Lama, who is constrained from speaking out on political issues—Tibet’s status or internal Indian affairs—while he is in India.16 India’s caution can also be seen in the handling of the case of the Karmapa, which is considered in Chapter 4. Many Tibetans, in fact, expressed the fear that while their status in India is relatively secure while the Dalai Lama lives, they are uncertain about the future once the Dalai Lama dies. The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile regularly, and almost ritually, express their gratitude toward their Indian hosts in all manner of public speeches and events. Tibetans often refer to the historic relationship between India and Tibet, recalling that Buddhism was introduced from India to Tibet and that India has long been a pilgrimage site for Tibetans, thus naturalizing the relationship in which Tibetans have literally “taken refuge.” I often heard Tibetans affirm “India is our guru.” Tibetans are undeniably grateful for the years of refuge and support the Government of India has given them. Yet, even a brief sojourn among Tibetans in India reveals tensions between the two groups evident in everyday encounters. Scholars, Tibetans, and others suggest that Indians are jealous of the economic success of Tibetans. I was always conscious of how bizarre it must seem to Indians to witness the flocks of Westerners who migrate to Dharamsala to be near Tibetans each year. Tibetans and Indians both voice suspicions that members of the other group are trying to cheat them in economic exchanges. Tibetans complained of the bribes necessary to operate a business or conclude any bit of bureaucratic paperwork in India. In 1994, tensions between Tibetans and Indians erupted after a young Tibetan man was accused of murdering an Indian. Several days of riots ensued and the Dalai Lama suggested that if Tibetans were not welcome in Dharamsala, perhaps

46 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

the government-in-exile should move to Bangalore, in South India (see Chapter 4). For Tibetans this episode highlighted their lack of political power in India. They were at the mercy of an Indian police force against Indian rioters and their vulnerability was keenly felt. Yet, if the government-in-exile were to move its home from Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj would become a ghost town, a fact surely not lost on the local Indian population who largely depend on the millions of rupees in revenues provided by tourists who are drawn to “Little Tibet.” The political position of Tibetans in the United States contrasts starkly with that of Tibetans in India. With a population of between 5,000 and 7,000 Tibetans scattered across the country in over twenty resettlement sites, it is unlikely Americans will ever complain of a negative economic impact as a result of the Tibetan presence in U.S. communities. I suggest that the immediate work authorization granted Tibetans on arrival in the United States, their successful acquisition of a variety of jobs, and their “hard work and cheerful disposition” has made Tibetans “ideal” employees for many U.S. employers (see Chapter 7). While many of the Tibetans who held high positions in the exile government continue to work relatively low-paying jobs in the service economy, many Tibetans (the majority in New Mexico) have nonetheless managed to purchase houses. The emphasis placed on education by Tibetans will also ensure rapid upward mobility for many of the so-called 1.5 generation youth (who arrived as children or adolescents) and certainly their children. Tibetans also display a marked level of savvy in the political arena. Even before they acquired citizenship, Tibetans in New Mexico called upon state senators and legislators when they were in need of help with federal bureaucracies, notably the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department. Several Tibetans told me that when they had difficulties with one aspect of the naturalization process or another, they called Senator Pete Domenici’s or Jeff Bingaman’s office to seek support in resolving issues (see Chapter 9). Tibetans also thank local politicians for their support of the community in a variety of public contexts. On the commemoration of the March 10 anniversary of the Lhasa uprising they often invite local politicians or other community activists to speak, and they have worked to pass resolutions supporting Tibet in the state legislature, thus solidifying contacts with local politicians. Santa Fe Tibetans held an elaborate buffet dinner on December 12, 1998 to thank sponsors and others who had helped with the resettlement; a variety of local politicians were invited to that event, including the Mayor of Santa Fe, state senators, and legislators, although in the end none were able to attend.

India, New Mexico, and the Specter of Tibet 47

Despite their small numbers, Tibetans have been acutely attuned to the necessity of forming positive relationships with those in their host society (see DeVoe 1983 and Klieger 1992 for more on Tibetans and patronage in India). Citizenship provides them with a voice, one that they have been primed to use to effect change on issues important to them. This is in stark contrast to Tibetans in India, where Tibetans and their movement remain fairly invisible in the larger national context. Many Tibetans expressed their frustration with demonstrations and political actions in India, saying that in forty years their actions have had little effect. I puzzled over the obvious contradiction that while becoming a U.S. citizen was framed by the CTA as a positive act, taking Indian citizenship was still construed by the majority of Tibetans as a sign of betrayal on the part of individuals. During my research, as I queried people about citizenship, I met several Tibetans who displayed their irritation about this paradox. I wondered whether this position toward Indian citizenship would change as more Tibetans adopt “foreign” citizenship. I was not surprised, then, to read a 2002 article in Express India about Tibetans in Manju-ka-Tilla (the Tibetan settlement on the outskirts of New Delhi) adopting Indian citizenship in order to exercise a political voice (Roy 2002).

Conclusion This work attempts to contextualize current and historical expressions of the interrelated concerns of culture, politics, and economics in reference to a specific phenomenon—increased Tibetan migration to the West. With the expansion of the diaspora, concurrent waves of both anxiety and desire on the part of exile Tibetans have arisen over the future of Tibet and Tibetan culture. This book addresses how these concerns reflect and shape current notions of Tibetanness—or what it means to be Tibetan and stateless in an increasingly transnational world, albeit one that still relies heavily on the fictions of nationalism (common blood, clearly demarcated borders, mutually intelligible languages, and shared histories). In my attempt to elucidate the tension between structure and agency that underlies the questions addressed in this work, in the remainder of Part I, I outline what I consider to be the structural matrix of diaspora identities: exilic discourse in a world understood to be organized around nation-states. Nation-states, however, are increasingly interconnected not only in an international world order (Malkki 1994), but also in a transnational sense in that nation-states are cut across and simultaneously shorn up and undone by migration, tourism, increasing flows of capital, media images, electronic

48 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

communication, and discourse. The discourses that frame this book are those that Tibetans engage most forcefully (and critically): culture, nation, modernity, human rights, and democracy. In the book, discourse is matched with its structural twin—policies of the state. Because Tibetans are stateless, the contradictions, disjunctures, and fissures evident in state policy toward them are perhaps more evident. These kinds of “technologies of power” (Foucault 1979) affect us all, but when one is stateless, the role they play in structuring identity formation processes provides social theorists with important information on how policy affects individual selves.


“Tibetanness” Where There Is No Tibet: Culture in a World of Nation-States

Introduction THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES the ways “Tibet” is currently contextualized and continuously fashioned and refashioned in a transnational world that is nonetheless still largely understood as one consisting of distinct nation-states. Tibet is not a state—it is not recognized by other states as one of them—yet exiled Tibetans have had the task of making their situation understandable in state terms. I argue that Tibet has stretched the boundaries and exceeded the limits of what we understand as a “nation,” and that the current way this is being articulated, especially by the Dalai Lama, is better explained by emerging transnationalist or globalist ideologies and frameworks than those associated with modern nation-states. Emergent “structures of feeling” (Williams 1977) associated with ideas of interdependence, universal responsibility, flexible citizenship, and multiple loyalties are framed using well-worn concepts—“nation,” “culture,” and “modernity.” Furthermore, “nation,” “culture,” and “modernity” are not just abstract ideas: they have shaped the practices of the exile government, its settlement goals and infrastructure, and all manner of exile institutions including schools, art institutes, and advocacy and rights organizations. These are ideas that have become part and parcel of Tibetan subjectivities formed entirely (or almost entirely) in exile contexts. It is the particular deployment of “nation,” “culture,” “modernity,” and the like that contributes to “Tibetanness”—a specifically diasporic identity configuration. Following Corrigan and Sayer (1985), Abrams (1988), Nagengast (1991, 1994), and Alonso (1994), I agree that the “state” is misrepresented and misunderstood as a subject of analysis. I also take Gramsci’s (1971) view that the state 49

50 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

is not monolithic and that hegemony is indeed fragile, and as such must be constantly shored up, added to, and consequently transformed. An examination of state policy, through its implementation and the responses of those subject to it, reveals state structures as well as fissures in these structures. Further, looking at changes in state policy over time reveals transformations in hegemonic processes brought about by resistance and accommodation. Because the exile government is in fact a nonstate, an examination of its policies and statements is revealing. Some practices are very statelike: setting out policy, holding elections, maintaining a host of institutions that serve the needs of its people. But because the government-in-exile lacks real (coercive) authority, and because it is not recognized by other states, it is in a decidedly different category.1 This chapter will examine what I call formalized discursive elements in their particular Tibetan configurations. Akin to what Foucault (1980) has described as discourse, associated with “power/knowledge,” these are, according to Schein (2000), the “authoritative statements and knowledges produced by professionals and governing elites. These ‘orders of things’ organize and constrain social experience, creating particular kinds of subjectivity and socialpolitical subjection. Contrary to the purely linguistic sense of ‘discourse,’ these are scenarios in which culture is always materialized in the institutional structures that comprise social life” (14). My goal is also to illuminate particular notions of Tibetanness that Tibetans have developed in exile. In order to accomplish this goal, I first need to outline the formalized discourse of Tibetanness, which is in large part articulated in speeches by the Dalai Lama and other officials of the government-inexile, in articles written by Tibetan exiles and scholars of the Tibetan diaspora, in texts related to institutions such as schools that educate exile youth, and by organizations that mobilize Tibetans and others to further the cause of Tibetan independence and human rights. Although there certainly are insubordinate and rebellious voices in Tibetan exile discourse—among them Tibetan intellectuals, recently arrived refugees from Tibet, and, increasingly, youth—the focus of this chapter is on its overall coherence. “Culture,” “nation,” and “modernity” are not concepts that Tibetans have adopted according to hegemonic Western understandings of the terms. Tibetans have integrated these concepts in new and different ways. In this chapter, I am interested in the authoritative, institutionalized perspective presented primarily by the educated, the elite, the leadership of Tibetan society. The discourse presented by this segment of Tibetan exile society, however, is shaped by the position of its elites and the nature of the power of an exile government. As I will

“Tibetanness” Where There Is No Tibet 51

argue, the power the exile government exercises is primarily discursive. As a nonstate actor in the realm of nation-states, the government-in-exile’s role is to further the Tibetan cause and to ensure the perpetuation of Tibetan exile communities in India, Nepal, and elsewhere. This perspective is crucial to lay the groundwork for later chapters, which present more heterogeneous voices of individuals who, particularly in speech and in practice, expound on these discourses, and express through lived experience expanded notions that exceed the framework presented here. This chapter’s exegesis is indebted to those scholars of Tibetan refugee life who have gone before me, particularly Marcia Calkowski, Marie Dorsh DeVoe, Keila Diehl, Melvyn Goldstein, Toni Huber, P. Christiaan Klieger, Frank Korom, Donald Lopez, Margaret Nowak, and Axel Ström. This chapter is organized in a way that attempts to engage the slippage that occurs when stateless people engage in discourses of “nation” and “culture.” For example, a discussion of the qualities of Tibet as a nation becomes a discussion about Tibetan culture; Tibetans almost always mention culture in the same breath as Buddhism; cultural rights are then often discussed as rights to religious freedom. For Tibetans, “culture” has superseded “nation” on the international front, and all of these are contained by a larger, arguably even more naturalized concept of “modernity.” Abu-Lughod (1991), for example, has suggested that “culture” is a term that reifies and produces difference and should be “written against.” However, in Social Theory and Modern Sociology, Anthony Giddens (1993) observed that “the concepts and theories invented by social scientists . . . circulate in and out of the social world they are coined to analyse. The best and most original ideas in the social sciences, if they have any purchase on the reality it is their business to capture, tend to become appropriated and utilized by social actors themselves” (149). Indeed, the usefulness of these terms is that they can and must be seen as embedded in a complex linguistic, political, and social history that influences their current meanings as they circulate, in order to describe what I am referring to here as “Tibetanness.” In other words, we have to address them because they are used by and hold meaning for our subjects. Les Field (1999) remarked that Culture is now, I would argue, less a broadly descriptive term, like the word “society,” and more a situationally charged and contentious term, like the word “democracy.” For better or worse, our work may have less to do with studying culture per se than with how the concept of culture is sociopolitically operationalized and thereby played out in the relationships shaping the lives of very different peoples, all of whom live in a world of nation-states. (4)

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In an era of globalization, it is not surprising that our subjects themselves have taken up “culture” and incorporated it into discourses of identity, and have even strategically employed it in a political fashion. It is precisely because “culture” has been taken up by our subjects that we must continue to wrestle with it and to write about it, however messy and difficult it has become to untangle meaning from context. Field concurs, adding that we must also address the power of those that frame discourse: I do not merely assert that we cannot talk about culture and cultures apart from what people in nations say/write/believe, but that culture is exactly what people say/write/believe, and almost always with reference to a laundry list of ideas and behaviors that anthropologists indeed had a great deal to do with establishing. It goes without saying that “people” means not just any people, but powerful people. Part of the power exercised by elites who set up and rule nation-states and own the greater share of their economies is the business of constructing national identities, that is defining what is and is not national (majority) and ethnic (minority) culture. (Field 1999: 5–6)

This chapter, then, attempts to show how certain elites define and deploy “culture” and “nation.” However, the crucial distinction here is that these elites are associated not with a nation-state, but with a nation that has no state. So while they must position discourse within this framework, they are at the same time situated outside of it. As a stateless people working to regain some measure of autonomy in their homeland, Tibetans frame their situation in terms that Western nation-states understand—“culture,” “nation,” and “modernity.” Examining the Tibetan case, therefore, tells us about Tibetans and others as well. It is a window onto global processes, but perhaps even more importantly a window onto heterogeneous engagements with such ideas and the ways in which they reflect identity in the twenty-first century, especially among transnational migrants and diasporic peoples. The phenomenon of transnationalism is expanding notions of belonging to nation-states, particularly among those who are the most marginalized within them: stateless populations including Palestinians, Kurds, Uighurs, and others among whom Tibetans are only a small minority.

The Role of Institutions in the Preservation of Tibetan Culture Examining institutions, their stated goals, their structure and purpose, and the statements of those who are employed by them illuminates formal elements of discourse. For this reason, as was discussed in the preceding chapter, I visited a

“Tibetanness” Where There Is No Tibet 53

number of institutions as I conducted field research in India. That research, as well as a review of publications produced by Tibetans in India, speeches of the Dalai Lama, street signs found in Dharamsala, and other ephemera including brochures associated with institutions, round out the sources used in this chapter. The importance of the Dalai Lama in Tibetan society and his international recognition, value, and status cannot be understated in any treatment of Tibetan society and discourse. Margaret Nowak’s 1984 ethnography Tibetan Refugees: Youth and a New Generation of Meaning examines education and its role in constructing meaning among Tibetan exiles. Following Sherry Ortner (1973), Nowak calls the Dalai Lama a “summarizing symbol” for Tibetans (1984: 24–31). The person of the Dalai Lama exemplifies the chos srid zung ‘brel (religion and politics together) system that has characterized the Tibetan government since the fifteenth century. Ortner explains that “Summarizing symbols . . . are those symbols which are seen as summing up, expressing, representing for the participants in an emotionally powerfully and relatively undifferentiated way, what the system means to them. This category is essentially the category of sacred symbols in the broadest sense, and includes all those items which are objects of reverence and/or catalysts of emotion” (Ortner 1973: 1339–1340). Nowak writes about the Dalai Lama as a “summarizing symbol”: The intensely felt conviction Tibetans have that they need the Dalai Lama if they are to continue as a “race” or ethnic group impinges on both poles of [a] profound ambiguity . . . the Dalai Lama’s power is both sacred (or pure, just, and “peaceful”) and profane (or political, contesting, and “violent”). Given the sociopolitical realities of life these stateless refugees must experience daily, it is no accident that the leader they revere is, to them, neither wholly transcendent (and thereby out of this world) nor wholly immanent (enmeshed in temporalities like the rest of us), but an ambiguous symbol imbued with the qualities of both. (1984: 30)

Nowak suggests that Tibetans “use this ambiguity,” much in the way I argue that Tibetans slip between talking about the imperativeness of saving Tibetan culture and insisting on Tibet’s status as a formerly independent nation. The Dalai Lama is the primary architect of Tibetan exile discourse. Furthermore, many Tibetans look to him as a guide for their own thoughts and actions on given subjects. At the same time, it is no doubt also often the case that individuals rationalize their thoughts and behavior by claiming that they are in accordance with the wishes of the Dalai Lama, whether it is justifiable to make such a claim or not.

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Moreover, the Dalai Lama is a summarizing symbol, not only for Tibetans, but for non-Tibetans. It is the Dalai Lama’s stature as an internationally recognized figure who stands for reason and nonviolence in the face of Chinese oppression that has lent the Tibetan cause much of its legitimacy over the years. At the same time, the respect most Westerners have for the Dalai Lama is not comparable to the way Tibetans regard him: not only as their temporal leader, but also as the incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion (Sanskrit Avalokite´svara). To witness the adoration and awe of Tibetans when meeting or seeing the Dalai Lama helps to place his importance to them in relative perspective. I am reminded especially of recent arrivals from Tibet respectfully bowing, with tears streaming down their faces as he blesses them, as well as the accounts of several refugees born in Tibet who told me that they did not believe the Dalai Lama was a real person before they actually saw him. Just as the Dalai Lama represents different things to Tibetans and non-Tibetans, so do the concepts “culture,” “nation,” and “modernity” hold different meanings for Tibetans and non-Tibetans. One of the first institutions to be established after the creation of the government-in-exile was a school for Tibetan refugee children in Mussoorie in northern India in 1960. Similarly, one of the first institutions to be established in Dharamsala, in May 1960, was the Tibetan Refugee Children’s Nursery, which eventually became the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV)—a boarding school for refugee children from Tibet, orphans and semi-orphans, and Indian-born Tibetans. In May 1961, the Tibetan Schools Society was created as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education of the Indian Government (Information Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama 1981: 21). The committee consisted of four Indian officials and three Tibetans. In 1979 the Tibetan Schools Society became the Central Tibetan Schools Administration (CTSA) (21). There are basically three types of Tibetan schools in India: those funded and administered by the Indian government with input from the CTSA, schools directly managed and funded by the government-in-exile’s Department of Education under a separate wing called the Sambhota Tibetan Schools Administration, and autonomous schools affiliated with the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education. Autonomous schools do not receive funding from the government of India or the government-in-exile and have more leeway in creating their own curriculum and establishing policy than the schools that receive funding from the Indian government (Yeshi 2001: 45–49). It is clear that from the beginning the CTSA was concerned with both ensuring that children under-

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stand themselves to be Tibetan, and at the same time to educate them in a “modern way.” The Tibetan schools were established bearing in mind the children’s background and the prevailing circumstances. The curriculum and organisation as such had to be different from the normal Indian schools. The traditional education system of Tibet was highly specialized and mostly religion-oriented. This system had to be completely overhauled in exile, to meet the changed circumstances. What was needed was an education blending modern subjects and teaching methods with the rich Tibetan culture and language. (Information Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama 1981: 24)

The creation of a modern, secularized curriculum with the aim of educating all Tibetan exile children, regardless of social class or location, was and continues to be one of the major endeavors of exile society. According to the Tibetan Demographic Survey, of a total exile population in India and Nepal of 98,867 people, 37,688, or 38 percent, were attending school at the time surveyed (Central Tibetan Administration 2000b, vol. 1: 119). Similarly, the overarching goal of the architects of Tibetan resettlement in India and the primary goal of the educational system was the same: to impart a strong sense of “Tibetanness” in children. Observations conducted in schools as well as interviews with school personnel, alumni of the school system, and those in the education department affirmed this goal again and again. The standard Class IV textbook published by Sherig (1989) (the publishing house that produces all textbooks for Tibetan schools in India) begins with an exegesis of Tibet: “Lhasa is the capital city of our Tibetan nation. Our city has a history of around 1300 years. The city’s principal places are the Potala Palace and the Jokhang temple. Moreover, there are meditation caves and many temples and a variety of offices” (6–7). Most of the lessons in the textbook impart knowledge about Tibet: myths, fables, flora, and fauna, including a chapter on yak and yak-cattle hybrids. There are also lessons on Buddhism, the benefits of daily exercise, and explanations of modern technology and science. Tibetan children begin their day by singing the national anthem while looking at their national flag and a photo of the Dalai Lama. In one way, then, exiled Tibetans are taught very explicitly about the land of Tibet, the home to which they do not have access. The longing to see and inhabit a specific piece of territory is expressed in the following poem, “A Personal

56 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

Reconnaisance,” written by Tenzin Tsundue, an Indian-born exile who went to the India-Tibet border to catch a glimpse of “home”: A Personal Reconnaisance From Ladakh Tibet is just a gaze away. They said: from that black knoll at Dumtse, it’s Tibet. For the first time, I saw my country Tibet. In a hurried hidden trip, I was there at the mound. I sniffed the soil, scratched the ground, listened to the dry wind and the wild old cranes. I didn’t see the border, I swear there wasn’t anything different, there. I didn’t know, if I was there or here. I didn’t know, if I was here or there. They said the kyangs2 come here every winter. they said the kyangs go there every summer. (Tsundue 2000)

Tenzin Tsundue expresses longing, but he is also describing the indeterminacy he experienced at the border, the arbitrariness of a line that makes all the difference in the world. While Tibetan exile schools attempt to educate their students about the physical attributes of Tibet, in many ways what is presented is a necessarily remembered or imagined Tibet. Precisely because of this, Tibet has become for these children and adults an idea that surrounds them and grounds them even

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while they live in exile. Nawang Phuntsog, an exile Tibetan and assistant professor of education at California State University at Fullerton, states in an article titled “Cultural Identity and Schooling of Tibetan Children in the Diaspora” (1998), “a primary objective of schooling Tibetan children in exile has been to provide culturally responsive educational experiences that will maintain their identity through sustaining a close connection to their country of origin. In addition, Tibetan children in exile share a responsibility to play a vital role in the struggle to free Tibet: they are the dream-keepers of an independent nation” (36). Thus, identity maintenance is explicitly linked with Tibetan nationalism and activism. Interestingly, however, several informants suggested that Tibetanness is not the sole province of ethnic Tibetans. For example, during an interview, an official at TCV commented to me that the school had created a real Tibetan environment. He remarked that even though there were several non-Tibetan students there, from India and Russia and other places, they were in fact living “a completely Tibetan life” as well. Thus, while schools are instrumental in constructing and maintaining a strong nationalist sense of exile identity, they may accomplish this goal in a way that does not confine Tibetanness solely to ethnic Tibetans.3 Benedict Anderson (1983) defines a nation as “an imagined political community—and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (6). Further, “The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind” (7). When applied to Tibet this definition helps illuminate the way the idea of Tibet is superseding these limits. The utopian ideal of Tibet stands in opposition to the evils of modernity as a reason why the entire world should care about its fate: because Tibet’s cultural ideals can help save an imperiled humanity. In this way, one can argue that the community of Tibet has been imagined as inherently limitless primarily by non-Tibetans, inasmuch as saving Tibet will result in the possibility that everyone will have access to Tibet; (cf. Lopez 1998: 200). One of the many examples I have found includes an advertisement for the Milarepa Fund, an NGO dedicated to awareness about Tibet; it reads “For the sake of all . . . Free Tibet.” Tibetans themselves tend to be a little less grandiose, but suggest that Tibetan culture, particularly Buddhism, might have something to offer others. But for this hypothesis to work, one must equate nation with culture. And in fact, Tibetans do this.

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“Culture Is a Good Reason”: Culture as Nation and Beyond In the 1980s the Dalai Lama began to articulate a change in his stance on Tibet’s relationship vis-à-vis China. In his 1988 Strasbourg Proposal, the Dalai Lama withdrew his demand for an independent Tibet, saying instead he would accept a form of “genuine autonomy” within the Chinese state. On June 15, 1988, the Dalai Lama delivered the proposal to the European Parliament. It contains the following language: The whole of Tibet known as Cholka-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo) should become a self-governing democratic political entity founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good and the protection of themselves and their environment, in association with the People’s Republic of China. The Government of the People’s Republic of China could remain responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy. The Government of Tibet should, however, develop and maintain relations, through its own Foreign Affairs Bureau, in the fields of religion, commerce, education, culture, tourism, science, sports and other non-political activities. Tibet should join international organizations concerned with such activities. The Government of Tibet should be founded on a constitution of basic law. The basic law should provide for a democratic system of government entrusted with the task of ensuring economic equality, social justice and protection of the environment. This means that the Government of Tibet will have the right to decide on all affairs relating to Tibet and the Tibetans. As individual freedom is the real source and potential of any society’s development, the Government of Tibet would seek to ensure this freedom by full adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights to speech, assembly, and religion. Because religion constitutes the source of Tibet’s national identity, and spiritual values lie at the very heart of Tibet’s rich culture, it would be the special duty of the Government of Tibet to safeguard and develop its practice. (Dalai Lama 1988)

The Chinese have repeatedly called this statement “insincere,” and it has not resulted in open or serious negotiations between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.4 Nonetheless, the Dalai Lama’s stance and the ideas used to articulate it are important. His statement signals a change in the political strategy of the government-in-exile, and as a result in the way exile Tibetans articulate their position to Western powers.

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Since the 1980s, then, the Dalai Lama has framed discussions about Tibet, its current situation, and its future in terms of saving Tibetan “culture” and protecting human rights and religious freedom, as opposed to calling for Tibetan independence (see Lazar 1994 for diverse opinions of exile intellectuals on the issue). A typical passage referring to these ideas comes from his March 10, 2001 address: “The Tibetan struggle is not about my personal position or well-being, but about the freedom, basic rights and the cultural preservation of six million Tibetans, as well as the protection of the Tibetan environment” (Dalai Lama 2001). In this way, he is falling back on a discursive framework that privileges the preservation of culture and respect for human rights and the environment, in lieu of articulating a more politically problematic nationalistic discourse. I will argue that while this maneuver must be understood in an overarching geopolitical context, it nevertheless carries meaning for individual Tibetans. Further, the Dalai Lama’s statements influence exiles’ everyday lives: even if many Tibetans do not agree with him on a particular issue, most are reluctant to openly disagree with the Dalai Lama. There are many people I spoke with who refuse to give up the demand for independence and some who articulate the need or the future possibility of acting with violence against Chinese occupation (see Mishra 2005). This tension was particularly evident in March 2008, when protests erupted in the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as in neighboring provinces—Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu—where there are large numbers of Tibetans. Much has been made by the Chinese of the fact that protesting Tibetans used violence—in the form of throwing stones, using knives, and burning Han businesses. Journalists have also written about the fact that many young Tibetans depart from the Dalai Lama’s wholly nonviolent strategy (see for example Agence France-Presse 2008). The sign carried by a demonstrator during the commemoration of the Lhasa Uprising in the year 2000 (Figure 3.1) shows how Tibetans engage with discourses in a political way. The sign reads, “Culture is a good reason,” which I take to mean that saving or protecting Tibetan culture from what many Tibetans see as “cultural genocide” on the part of China is a good enough reason to act for Tibet. Thus, we see that the culture concept circulates widely, yet it has become so naturalized that it is difficult to get people to elucidate its meaning directly. In the Tibetan language, Tibetans primarily use the term rig gzhung for culture.5 According to Melvyn Goldstein, popular usage of this term developed after the Chinese took over Tibet. In the 1950s the Chinese set up a number of formal committees to choose or develop appropriate Tibetan language terms to

60 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

Figure 3.1 Demonstrator’s sign, “Culture is a good reason,” Dharamsala, India, March

10, 2000. Source: Author.

translate crucial ideological concepts associated with Chinese precepts. It was at this time, according to Goldstein, that rig gzhung was selected by these committees. Up until that time rig gnas was used in popular parlance. (Rig gnas is still used to mean “culture.” Melvyn Goldstein, personal communication, February 26 and 28, 2002.) It is also important to note that when Tibetans speak of rig gzhung they often use it in conjunction with other terms including “religion” or “dharma” (chos), “tradition” (lugs srol), and “habit” (goms gshis). Much like popular understandings of culture in the United States, Tibetans operate with and constantly react to basic understandings of culture that define it in a variety of ways: as a list of traits and behaviors, as static or alternatively as always changing, and as something precious that should be guarded against negative influences. For exile Tibetans, and particularly in the Dalai Lama’s

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post-1980s nuanced political discourse, culture has come to stand in for nation. For Tibetans, the superseding of nation by culture is as much a matter of political necessity as it is a result of the development of a “diaspora consciousness,” or as I will elaborate below the “rising to consciousness” of Tibetans as modern subjects, and the need to create ethnic solidarity in pluralistic host societies. If the Dalai Lama is the principal framer of discourse among exiles, then the imperative question is, “What does the Dalai Lama mean by ‘culture’?” In Prisoners of Shangri-La (1998), Donald Lopez asserts that the Dalai Lama equates Tibetan culture with Buddhism. After commenting that the Dalai Lama “blurs the distinction, moving away from a call for Tibetan independence to a call for the preservation of Tibetan culture,” Lopez suggests that the Dalai Lama’s notion of culture is more akin to Matthew Arnold’s definition of culture as a “ ‘general humane spirit . . . the love of human perfection,” than to E. B. Tylor’s (1871) classic definition of culture, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other capabilities and habits acquied by man as a member of a society,” (1) wherein Buddhism would just be one component in a complex whole. Lopez writes, Having learned that they have something called a “culture,” the leaders of the Tibetans in exile have selected one of the many elements that together are considered to constitute the changing composition of culture, namely, religion, and have universalized it into an eternal essence, compassion. . . . The Dalai Lama has said that what is most important about Tibetan culture is not the national cuisine or the mode of dress; these are superficial and transitory. What is enduring about Tibet is Buddhism. But there are myriad forms of Buddhist practice in Tibet, including the practice of Shugden. By Buddhism, however, the Dalai Lama means something else, foremost the practice of compassion, something not of Tibetan origin, but transmitted to Tibet by the great Indian masters of the Mahayana. It is this beatific Buddhism that he has offered to the West, hoping perhaps to get his country back as part of the exchange. (199–200)6

Lopez refers to the Dalai Lama as an articulator of “Buddhist Modernism,” building on the ideas of Heinz Bechert, who coined the term. Lopez describes the Dalai Lama’s approach to Buddhism as follows: “A strong proponent of nonviolence, he invokes Gandhi and Martin Luther King as much as Buddhist figures, and explains that the essence of Buddhism is ‘Help others if you can; if not, at least refrain from harming others’ ” (185–186). Lopez then describes the Dalai Lama’s interest in modern science, and his participation in Buddhist-Christian

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dialogue (187–188). I will emphasize particular elements of Lopez’s interpretation: the Dalai Lama specifically rejects a proselytizing stance, saying that it is generally better if people stick to their own religion.7 At the same time he portrays Buddhism as an overall beneficial cultural orientation from which the world has a lot to learn: “I tell audiences a few reasons why they should support Tibet. . . . Tibetan culture, Buddhist culture, creates a certain way of life, based on peaceful relations with fellow human beings, peaceful relations with nature, and peaceful relations with animals. I think that kind of culture is necessary, useful, for the world at large. Such a cultural heritage, which can help millions of people, is now facing extinction” (Iyer 2001). Further, the Dalai Lama articulates political ideas infused with Buddhism, or a Buddhist idea that has come to reflect his politics; this idea echoes fashionable transnational discourse, but is radical nonetheless—interdependence: Recently I am emphasizing that due to the modern economy, and also due to information and education, the world is now heavily interdependent, interconnected. Under such circumstances, the concept of “we” and “they” is gone: harming your neighbor is actually harming yourself. If you do negative things towards your neighbor, that is actually creating your own suffering. And helping them, showing concern about others’ welfare—actually these are the major factors of your own happiness. If you want a community full of joy, full of friendship, you should create that possibility. If you remain negative, and meantime want more smiles and friendship from your neighbors, that’s illogical. If you want a more friendly neighbor, you must create the atmosphere. Then they will respond. (Iyer 2001)

It would seem easy to dismiss this view as the idealism of a spiritual leader, or as simply political. It is surely a combination of the two, but more to the point, this viewpoint deeply resonates with a large number of Westerners, who are drawn to the Tibet movement precisely because of the Dalai Lama’s articulation of such ideas, coupled with the notion of a nonviolent struggle. Many see the movement as paradigmatic for nonviolent social change. It must be said, however, that the Dalai Lama’s international status, intellect, and position as the spokesperson for Tibet set him apart from other Tibetans. Although he is the framer of much Tibetan discourse, his status as a bodhisattva8 makes him at the same time impossible to emulate. Thus, there is perhaps a limit to the penetration of his ideas even into Tibetan exile society. Tibetans I met were proud of the appeal of Buddhism to Westerners, and we will see that several followed the

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Dalai Lama in suggesting that Tibetan culture has something to offer all sentient beings. At the same time, I found that Tibetans were articulating a notion of Tibetan culture that went beyond an equation with Tibetan Buddhism. I found that although they tend to mirror popular framings of culture, the Tibetans I queried about their concept of culture also frequently expressed views resonant with contemporary theorists’ ideas about culture as praxis. I have identified four primary contextual meanings of “culture” as this term is used by exile Tibetans: (1) to differentiate Tibetans from the Chinese (namely, Tibetans constitute a unique culture distinct from that of China); (2) to refer to a set of material goods, values, and practices; (3) as something to be protected, preserved, and maintained; and (4) as universally meaningful and helpful in a modern global context. I will discuss each of these in turn. Culture and Difference Tibetans often refer to their difference, especially in reference to the Chinese, as a way to describe and confirm their status as a distinct people. In My Land and My People (1997) the Dalai Lama writes, “Our physical appearance and our language and customs are entirely different from those of any of our neighbors. We have no ethnological connection with anyone else in our part of Asia” (38). An example of this is found in Dolma, the biannual report of the Tibetan Women’s Association. In a discussion of the week-long activities organized to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Women’s National Uprising in New Delhi, the Tibetan Women’s Association organized “cultural dances to create awareness among audience members of Tibet’s unique cultural tradition, which is quite distinct from that of China” (Tibetan Women’s Association 2000: 48). During an interview, an executive member of the Tibetan Youth Congress responded this way when I asked, “What do you mean by Tibetan culture?” “Culture,” this is very tricky! There are many things to learn, the way people behave, our way of thinking, our way of living is very different from that of China. It is a weapon. I don’t mean that you should wear a chupa,9 it doesn’t make sense in India because it’s too hot. Behavior, things you learn from Buddhism. And in this way it is clear that we are different from the Chinese.

Recognizing self through a comparison with or in opposition to an “other” is, of course, a standard way of elaborating identity. Theorists of ethnicity since

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Fredrik Barth (1969) have written about ethnicity construction as an oppositional process. In their seminal essay, “Of Totemism and Ethnicity” (1992), Jean and John Comaroff write: “ethnicity has its origins in the asymmetric incorporation of structurally dissimilar groupings into a single political economy” (54). As we have seen, before the 1950s Tibetans had a variety of ways to refer to themselves as groups of people, primarily in reference to regional identities (Bod pa, Amdo ba, Khams pa). There was also a term to apply to the Chinese (rgya mi) and China (rgya nak). There was no term, however, to refer to Tibet as a part of China. Thus, historically, Tibetans’ conception of themselves was as a distinct people, not a people in the context of a larger polity that included the Chinese. The Chinese introduced the term krung go, which refers to greater China, including Tibet, which is now in use among Tibetans in Tibet. Current understandings of Tibetan difference, then, after fifty years of Chinese domination and influence over language and ideology, as well as the position of Tibetans as one of fifty-five national minorities in the greater Chinese state, have radically changed. In Tibet, current perceptions of difference are being fueled by the asymmetric relations in Tibetan society that have arisen as a consequence of the imposition of a Chinese system, which is based on ethnic Han superiority and has resulted in discrimination in terms of access to education and employment in Tibet. In exile, Tibetans try to engage the United Nations and other political bodies in regaining some measure of autonomy or independence in their homeland: in the process they have immersed themselves in a discursive field dominated by the politics of nation-states that has necessitated countering Chinese claims that Tibet has been an integral part of China for centuries. When discussing Tibetan cultural history, Tibetans often prominently list several elements of their cultural identity that were introduced from their neighbors. Buddhism’s introduction from India is the most important example. Another oft-cited example is the story of Songtsen Gampo (srong bstan sgampo), the seventh-century Tibetan king (d. 650 CE) who consolidated the role of Buddhism in Tibetan society through two of his wives—one of whom was from Nepal, the other from China. His Chinese bride is said to have brought the image of Jowo Rinpoche to the Jokhang Cathedral in Lhasa (Snellgrove and Richardson 1995: 73). Lopez (1998) remarks that it is notable that these cultural elements were introduced from the outside and yet are celebrated (196). Tibetans generally frame these examples of cultural diffusion in terms of the cultural transformation such elements underwent and were catalysts for in creating a unique cultural, political, and economic system in Tibet.

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Explicit statements of Tibetan difference occur primarily in a political context. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was formed in 1959. The page about the institute on the government-in-exile’s Web site states, In Tibet, the Chinese began to attack the Tibetan cultural identity by systematically destroying monasteries and taking control of every aspect of the people’s lives. In the freedom of exile, Tibetans sought means to preserve that identity. Tipa [Tibetan Institute for the Performing Arts], founded in Kalimpong, not far from the Tibetan border was the first of the various institutions to be established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile for this purpose. (Government of Tibet in Exile 1996)

Calkowski (1997) has written about the controversy that has arisen on multiple occasions when Tibetan cultural groups from the Tibet Autonomous Region and from India each represent themselves as the true emissaries of Tibetan culture (see also Diehl 2002). Tibetans in exile have positioned themselves as maintaining a bastion of cultural purity in the face of Chinese practices in Tibet (this point will be developed below), whereas the Tibetan troupes from China link their authenticity to the physical location of Tibet. But far from being just a political point, oppositional understandings of difference are foundational for the development of ethnicity and nationalism. There are other oppositional forces at work here that must be acknowledged. There is Tibetan “authenticity,” which is being defined by Tibetans in exile but cannot be separated from Western fantasies and expectations of Tibetans and their culture. These enduring ideas about Tibet and Tibetans are tested as Tibetans and Westerners encounter one another in the diaspora. Indeed, a critical voice challenging romanticized notions of Tibet and Tibetans has developed among both Tibetan exiles and Western scholars. A potentially more damaging disjuncture in the long run—and one that is primarily a result of the authenticity debate between exiles and those still in Tibet—has developed between recent refugees and the Tibetans who fled around 1959 and their children, whom I call “born refugees.” The struggle, in my view, stems from culture change that has occurred, both organically and through force (if such a distinction can be made), in Tibet and in diaspora. In other words, long-term exiles see “newcomers” (as recent refugees are called) as “Sinicized.” Indian-born Tibetans complain when more recent arrivals sing Chinese songs, watch Chinese movies, or communicate with each other in Mandarin. An informant told me of an incident at the Tibetan

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Institute of Performing Arts when a group that presented a song-and-dance style that was considered “too Chinese” was interrupted in mid-performance by disapproving spectators. Newcomers expressed to me that they felt like outsiders in exile society. (I return to this topic in Chapter 6.) Beyond concerns about cultural performances, however, there seems to be a conflict between the Tibet of the exiles’ imagination, especially the Indian-born exiles, and the discordant reality that they come face-to-face with in encounters with newcomers. There will be much more discussion of these encounters throughout the book. Materiality of Culture Figure 3.2 depicts a sign featured on a busy street in McLeod Ganj. The sign is sponsored by the Regional Tibetan Women’s Association and reminds passersby, “Clothing is our identity. Culture is our life force.” The sentiment featured on this sign is clearly based on one of the more simplistic popular understandings of culture—that culture is made up of material things that one can point to, such as clothing, food, and so on. Tibetans referred to clothing

Figure 3.2 Sign in McLeod Ganj, chas gos ni tsho’i ngo rtags yin pa she/ rig gzhung ni

nga tsho’i srong rtsa yin/ (Translation: “Clothing is our identity. Culture is our life force.”). Source: Author.

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and ways of dress quite frequently in conversations about culture. The Class IV school text referred to above features a drawing of modern-day schoolchildren, boys, wearing traditional Tibetan chupas. The boys are standing on a basketball court discussing the benefits of regular exercise (Sherig 1989: 54–55). Ordinarily, schoolchildren wear uniforms consisting of pants and shirts, and in colder weather, sweaters.10 One informant, referring to the street sign, noted that the idea was simplistic. But then he thoughtfully paused and conceded, “Well, sometimes clothing is important.” And then he proceeded to tell me about how, back in Amdo when he was in school, on holidays, all the Tibetans would wear their traditional clothing, their chupas with the long sleeves, to school. He said that it pointed to their difference compared to their Chinese schoolmates. I thought he meant it in a negative way, and when I suggested that perhaps he felt uncomfortable in those clothes and inquired if the Chinese students made fun of them, he looked puzzled and said, “Oh no, we were proud to wear those clothes.”11 Although Tibetans often listed material culture almost automatically when I asked about Tibetan culture, many others offered amplified perspectives of what Tibetan culture is about. The following editorial from the Tibetan Review (an independent English-language journal published in New Delhi) reflects this view: “It is time to look at our identity problem from a new angle. Is the Tibetan identity only thought to be the way we dressed, lived, thought and prayed for centuries before 1959? Or should it be elastic enough to cope with the passage of time and changing circumstances?” (Wangchuk 1992: 26). As will be discussed in Chapter 6, Tibetans in India often extended their discussion of culture beyond materialist aspects or dismissed them as an important aspect of culture. Culture as Something to Be Preserved or Maintained This notion that culture is something to be preserved or maintained can also be understood in the context of the political position of the government-in-exile. The goal of cultural preservation as it is articulated by the government-in-exile, as well as by NGOs and other institutions, is often discussed as an imperative in the face of Chinese actions, which can be characterized as discriminatory, or in a more inflammatory way as “ethnocidal,” in Tibet. Baldly stated, the Chinese are destroying Tibetan culture in Tibet so Tibetans must preserve it in exile. This idea is found in the innumerable references to Dharamsala as “Little Lhasa.” The following description of Dharamsala is taken from the governmentin-exile’s Web site:

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Today, streams of Tibetan refugees from all over the world flock to McLeod Gunj [Ganj] to receive blessings and teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Western and Indian tourists and scholars come here to see the rebirth of an ancient and fascinating civilization. The high altitude and cool weather contribute physically to this recreation of the original Tibetan environment. Dharamsala pulsates with the sights and sounds of old Tibet. Though certainly more modern, life is basically Tibetan in character. Shops strung out along the narrow streets of McLeod Gunj sell traditional Tibetan arts and handicrafts and the aroma of Tibetan dishes lingers in the air. (Government of Tibet in Exile 2001)

As we have seen, exile institutions have as their goal the maintenance of “traditional” or “authentic” Tibetan cultural forms. The same is true of the settlements established in exile. In an article promoting a book of photographs titled The Spirit of Tibet, the photographer Alison Wright is quoted as saying, “Tibetan refugees have managed more than mere survival: they have created a Tibet in exile that is in many ways more truly Tibetan than their occupied homeland” (SnowLion 1998: 5). In an article titled “Tibet: Mystic Nation in Exile” (1985) Robert Thurman, a prominent scholar of Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia University, states: In an exact sense, Tibet only exists in the refugee community in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his government-inexile, and his by now roughly one hundred twenty thousand refugee subjects have preserved much of the old culture, while vigorously developing new forms of Tibetan living in the modern situation. (57)

I found that many Tibetans did not question the “authentic” nature of Tibetan settlements in India, despite the profoundly different environment, social structure, political system, and economy from that which they left behind in Tibet (cf. Diehl 2002). This is not to say that Tibetans are unaware of the massive cultural change that has occurred in the diaspora. However, Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike cite the essentially Tibetan character of settlements in India, especially in contrast with the impossibility of establishing similar pockets of “pure” or “authentic” Tibetan culture in the West. It is true that the settlements are relatively isolated from Indian society, and in India Tibetans have managed to re-create societal institutions that function like their counterparts in Tibet in many ways. For example, Ström (1997) writes about the ability of the three large monastic colleges in Kar-

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nataka state in southern India to operate in a way that largely replicates the experience of a monk in Tibet. While the monasteries in exile, unlike those in pre-1959 Tibet, do not operate as feudal institutions (they do not own land outright, they do not collect income in the form of taxes, and so on), they do own factories, hotels, shops, and restaurants that employ significant numbers of Tibetans and Indians; further, they are exempt from taxes and generate international financial support. The monasteries also hold power in the democratized exile government: they hold seats in the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, monks and nuns have two votes in the exile parliament elections, and key positions are owned by monks. So although a dramatic and fundamental change in their political-economic role in Tibetan society has occurred (see Ziman 1996: 22–23), they still wield significant power in exile society. Still, although Tibetans who were educated in exile institutions reflect consciously on change in the materiality of culture, I found them to be less reflective about larger complexes of behavior or systems. Many people articulated a dichotomy between the “modern” and the “traditional,” but expressed the view that Tibetans were actually negotiating and actively bridging both poles. Moreover, the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans articulate the idea that one positive outcome of the Chinese takeover is the dissemination of Tibetan culture and religion throughout the world. The following excerpt from Pico Iyer’s 2001 interview of the Dalai Lama demonstrates this belief: iyer: The challenges that you have had to face over the last 30 or 40 years— would those be part of the Dalai Lama’s karma? dalai lama: Yes, of course. And also, I think, common karma. iyer: So does that mean there’s a kind of purpose or a reason for the difficulties being faced? dalai lama: Purpose, I don’t know. That’s very, very mysterious, very difficult to say. These karmic consequences—in some cases, they have some meaning, some significance. But it is useful to look at tragedy from a different angle, so that your mental frustration can decrease. For example, our tragedy—becoming refugees, a lot of destruction in our country—this also brings new opportunity. If still we were in Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism would not be known in the outside world like it is. From that viewpoint, the more exposure, the better. iyer: For the world, it has been a great gain, because before we didn’t have access to Tibet.

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dalai lama: The knowledge about Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism now existing in the world is because of the tragedy that happened to Tibet. So there is one positive result of that. iyer: And that inevitably means that some people with sincere hearts can learn a lot, but there will also be distortions. dalai lama: Truth has its own strength. So as time goes by, something truthful starts to grow, becomes stronger and stronger. Like the Tibetan cause, or also my position regarding Tibetan Buddhism, or some of our activities in India. At the beginning, perhaps it wasn’t very popular, but as time goes on, it becomes well accepted. When something is truthful, its truthfulness becomes clearer and clearer.

Here the Dalai Lama suggests that the situation that has led to the Tibetan diaspora may have a few benefits as Tibetan culture spreads throughout the world. Yet, I contend that the Dalai Lama’s suggestion is more subtle than the proclamation of Westerners that saving Tibet is really about saving us all. The key point is that this notion of Tibetan culture as being beneficial to others besides Tibetans is framed in a way that reflects current transnational imaginings. Tibet has come free of its bounded, geographic territory, and as such, is more available to the world. In addition, the discussion of “truth” at the end of the excerpt points to an articulation of modernity that has a very important place in exilic discourse. Culture and Modernity When Tibetans discuss “cultural preservation” and “modernity” together we see the particularly Tibetan understandings of culture diverge from popular understandings of culture in the United States. As mentioned above, the educational system in exile promotes an explicitly cultural understanding of Tibetanness in a modern context. Tibetans often juxtapose the maintenance of Tibetan culture with living a “modern” life. In an article titled “Between Tibet and the West: On Traditionality, Modernity and the Development of Monastic Institutions in the Tibetan Diaspora” (1997), Axel Ström suggests that it is in the realm of monastic education that we can see the struggle between modernity and tradition most clearly. He uses the establishment of a school at Sera monastery in Bylakuppe to educate monks in secular subjects, an altogether “modern” practice, as a case study. Tibetans often state that in exile the chasm between tradition and modernity is one that is being actively bridged. An article titled “History of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics” in CONTACT, an

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English-language monthly newsletter printed in Dharamsala, opens with the following paragraph: The Institute of Buddhist Dialectics is a non-sectarian registered charitable organization committed to preserve Tibetan tradition and culture. . . . The Institute is a vital component in the continuation of Tibet’s rich literary, philosophical and spiritual traditions, which have been severely suppressed within Tibet by the occupying Chinese authorities. No institution had ever existed in this form in the history of Tibetan culture and such a development was [a] crucial move to ensure that the people of Tibet could move into modernity without losing our rich cultural heritage. (CONTACT 2000: 3; emphasis added)

Like the Tibetan educational institutions described above, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics expresses the dual goals of maintaining tradition and training its students in “modern subjects and innovations in order to keep abreast with developments in an increasingly literate and technological world” (8). Thus, Tibetan exile institutions promote the development of Tibetans as modern actors while they ensure the continued maintenance of “traditional” cultural forms. Cati Coe notes similar developments in a variety of locations worldwide (2002; see also Coe 2005 for an in-depth ethnography of this process in Ghana). Vernacular traditions are abstracted and taught in modern educational institutions (cf. Handelman 1990: 160–189; Yeshi 2001). But what do Tibetans, and for that matter the rest of us, mean by “modernity”? I will begin with my own understanding of the “modern” and the way I am applying the concept here. Following Anthony Giddens, I take “modernity” to be a worldwide phenomenon resulting from the development and intersection of industrialization, capitalism, and the nation-state. Giddens (1993) has a discontinuous view of “the modern” in that he posits a fundamental difference between premodern and modern ways of life: The modes of life brought into being by modernity have swept away from all traditional types of social order, in quite unprecedented fashion. In both their extensionality and their intensionality the transformations involved in modernity are more profound than most sorts of change characteristic of prior periods. On the extensional plane they have served to establish forms of social interconnection which span the globe; in intensional terms they have come to alter some of the most intimate and personal features of our day-today existence. Obviously there are continuities between the traditional and the

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modern, and neither is cut of whole cloth; it is well known how misleading it can be to contrast these two in too gross a fashion. But the changes occurring over the past three or four centuries—a tiny period of historical time—have been so dramatic and so comprehensive in their impact that we get only limited assistance from our knowledge of prior periods of transition in trying to interpret them. (284)

Modernity has been brought about by the development of nationalism and the development of industrial economies. Further, it is characterized by evolutionary concepts of progress, individualism and the notion of a greater truth. Marshall Berman (1982) writes of modernity: To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything that we are. Modern environments and experiences cut across all boundaries of geography and ethnicity, of class and nationality, of religion and ideology; in this sense, modernity can be said to unite all mankind. But it is a paradoxical unity, a unity of disunity; it pours us all into a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal, of struggle and contradiction, of ambiguity and anguish. (15)

The Dalai Lama has also articulated the notion that Tibetans in exile must simultaneously “preserve tradition” and practice modernity: The Dalai Lama said the Tibetan youth living in exile would have to play a crucial role by not only preserving their rich culture and heritage but in making the international community aware of the misery and sufferings of their brethren inside Tibet, currently under Chinese occupation. . . . “No doubt that our religion and culture is our biggest strength, but at the same time we must not lag behind China in acquiring modern knowledge and skills as we must keep pace with the fast-changing world,” he said. He said Tibetan children studying in schools being run by the government-in-exile must acquire modern knowledge so that they are not dependent on others for it. (Tribune News Service 2001)

For Tibetan exiles, a modernist discourse is necessitated by the articulation of the Tibetan situation in terms of internationalist discourse that developed at the close of World War II, which claims that Tibet is an independent nation that has been occupied by another nation, China. The conception of a Tibetan exile

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modernity can be understood in terms of a variety of tensions. The first is that the government-in-exile rules a nonstate, yet claims the right to speak for Tibetans as the legitimate government of Tibet. Another tension with modernity is the goal of the preservation of premodern cultural forms in the context of Tibetan diasporic settlement in a variety of nation-states. Key to my understanding of modernity is the development of a level of consciousness about “nation” and “culture” that simply was not needed before. Under Barth’s (1969) conception of identity construction as relational, people do not explicitly construct group identities until there is contact with an “other.” Thus, Tibetans since 1959 have conceived of themselves as Tibetans in a way that is fundamentally different than before, primarily because of the level of consciousness inherent in the project. As discussed in the Introduction, Liisa Malkki’s Purity and Exile (1995) has been crucial in formulating innovative approaches to ethnographic treatments of refugees in general. In terms of this book, I have used Malkki’s concept of “national consciousness” to develop the notion that exile Tibetans have developed “diaspora consciousness” over the course of forty years in exile (see also McLagan 1997 and her discussion of Tibetanness). The technologies of power that create Hutu national consciousness in Malkki’s work are akin to narratives of homelessness and the brutality of Chinese occupation, resettlement sites in India and Nepal, and the various institutions described above, coupled with state policy toward Tibetans, in the creation of Tibetan diaspora consciousness. Here I want to emphasize the development of diaspora consciousness as part and parcel of the “rising to” of a specifically modern consciousness among Tibetan exiles in India (and Nepal). Young Tibetans—as a result of understanding themselves as actors in an increasingly transnational world—are able to articulate a place for themselves in the world that differs dramatically from the understandings of their parents’ generation. These processes, like Malkki’s claims for Hutu refugees, are lodged in the lived experience of the everyday and are experienced by Tibetans living in settlements, in schools, and as subjects of the Dalai Lama and the exile government. This self-understanding as modern subjects comes as a result of the Tibetan diaspora. This is not to say that no such cultural transformations would have occurred in the absence of Chinese occupation, or indeed that they have not happened in Chinese-ruled Tibet. What I am exploring here is a particular form of consciousness that has developed specifically among diasporic Tibetans as a result of their engagement with and location in a particular set of relations. The lived experiences of diasporic Tibetans must be understood as situated in specific national and transnational contexts. Many ethnographers have

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recognized the importance of examining the situatedness of Tibetans and the construction of settlements in India and Nepal. DeVoe (1983, 1987), Klieger (1992), and Frechette (2004) have looked at Tibetans and their relationships with sponsors aid organizations; Nowak (1984) has examined the creation of a modern, secular educational system. Recently scholars have examined Tibetan representations within the transnational contexts of the Tibet movement (McLagan 1996a, 1996b, 1997), environmentalism (Huber 1997), and the creation of Tibetan rock-and-roll in exile (Diehl 2002). Thus, we must see the “rising to” of the consciousness of Tibetans as modern subjects as deeply connected with the current fascination with the West. At the same time, it is clear that particularly Chinese ideas about the modern and modernization are also having an effect on Tibetans’ notions of modernity. There are a few recent accounts of the interrelationship of Chinese and Western modernities that also point to the way in which a distinctly modern Tibetan identity is being produced within the Chinese state (Adams 1996; McGranahan 1996; Upton 1996; Goldstein and Kapstein 1998; Chertow 2007). Again, if one examines exile discourse as it is structured in opposition to discourse from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) about what is happening in Tibet, it is easy to trace ideas about the “modern.” Yet, a focus on the lived everyday experience of “modernity” and the way it is discussed among Tibetans is more illuminating. For example, one day as I was eating momos under the trees on a low bench outside a Tibetan class at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, I was having a discussion with a newcomer friend of mine who introduced me to a recent arrival from Amdo in Tibet. He told me how “developed” Tibet was now; people in his town were driving cars and had cell phones. He then disparagingly referred to the fact that in the year 2000 cellular phone service was not available in Himachal Pradesh, and how backward India was compared with China. Democratization in Exile It is in the development of democratic governmental structures in exile that one can see the contentious nature of maintaining Tibetanness and at the same time nurturing the transformation of a political system toward something recognizably “modern.” Arjun Appadurai includes a description of “ideoscapes” in his discussion of multidimensional sites of transnational experience (1996): Ideoscapes are . . . concatenations of images . . . they are often directly political and frequently have to do with the ideologies of states and the counterideolo-

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gies of movements explicitly oriented to capturing state power or a piece of it. These ideoscapes are composed of elements of the Enlightenment worldview, which consists of a chain of ideas, terms and images, including freedom, welfare, rights, sovereignty, representation, and the master term democracy. (36; emphasis in original)

The master term democracy is indeed an idea with particular currency. This is true for exile Tibetans who are struggling to create a foundation for a democratic society in preparation for return to their homeland. Again, the production of this idea in exile can first be examined as an oppositional one, in reference to Chinese claims about pre-1950s Tibetan society and the role of the Dalai Lama. The PRC claims to have liberated Tibetans from a regime of “serfdom.” Further, one common claim of the Chinese government is that the Dalai Lama wishes to reinstate himself as the temporal ruler of Tibetans (reminding us that he was once the largest serf-holder in Tibet), thus revoking fifty years of PRC-orchestrated progressive change in Tibet. The exile government and the Dalai Lama himself counter this charge with the statement that upon the Dalai Lama’s return, a democratic government will be established in Tibet—an elected government headed by someone other than the Dalai Lama, who will retain a religious role. In India, the Dalai Lama and the exile government drafted a constitution in 1963—the first step in the effort to democratize Tibetan society. As McLagan (1996b) notes, the Dalai Lama’s attempt to nurture an understanding of democracy among Tibetan exiles has been a slow process. She points out the irony that in this case democracy is revolution fomented from above (227). Returning to the status of the Dalai Lama in exile society, Tibetans have been reluctant for the Dalai Lama to give up his status as a political head of state. It was not until March 2002 that a democratically elected leader was named leader of the Kashag, or the cabinet. For the last forty years the position had been filled by an appointee of the Dalai Lama. So this move sends several important signals: that the Dalai Lama has succeeded in handing over power to an elected official, and that the Dalai Lama is paving the way for a democratic polity that will continue to function after he is gone, regardless of the status or even the existence of future Dalai Lamas.

Conclusion The rising international recognition of the Dalai Lama, indicated by his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the associated burgeoning of the Tibet Movement in the 1980s, led Tibetans to understand the situation of Tibet in a specifically international context. Here I am using “international” in Malkki’s

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(1994) explicit sense of the term: “this imagined international community . . . is not a supranational or cosmopolitan world but precisely an international one, a world where globality is understood to be constituted by interrelations among discrete ‘nations’ ” (41; emphasis in original). Thus, Tibetans must be concerned with the perception of the status of Tibet in a global arena of nation-states. The articulation of the Tibet issue in terms of the loss of independence of a former nationstate is of course highly politicized, but nonetheless de rigueur in a twentiethand twenty-first-century political context. While the Tibet issue is being discursively shaped on this global political level, Tibetans in India have daily experiences with outsiders, and Westerners in particular, who shape their understandings of Tibet, of what it means to be Tibetan, and thus their place in an increasingly globalized world. The sense of loss of Tibet’s place among the community of states is part of exile discourse and impinges on individual Tibetan subjectivities, as we will see throughout the book. Specifically, I argue that young Tibetans especially have grown up in exile with this understanding of Tibet’s place in the world, and concomitantly an understanding of themselves as modern actors. Their sense of themselves as agents is impinged upon by another understanding, that they are refugees unjustly displaced from their homeland, and they are thus compelled to remedy this wrong. At the same time, they are insistently and continuously reminded to be true to their Tibetanness, an identity that has been conceptually linked with certain ideas of respect for authority and self-effacement. New understandings of Tibetanness that link nationalist feeling and activism constitute a bridge between “traditional” and “modern” notions of what it means to be Tibetan in a transnational world. This sense of self, national loss, and the imperative to act to remedy this wrong in a global sphere are all a part of Tibetan “diaspora consciousness.”


Refugees to Citizens, Tibetans, and the State

“No Ordinary Refugee”: The Case of the Karmapa LIKE MANY MONKS AND NUNS EACH YEAR, Ugyen Trinley Dorjee made the perilous journey from Tibet across the Himalayas seeking refuge in India. He arrived in Dharamsala in January 2000, a week or so before I began my fieldwork. But Ugyen Trinley Dorjee is no ordinary monk. He is the seventeenth Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, and was the first incarnate lama, or trulku,1 to be recognized both by Beijing and by the Dalai Lama. He had escaped the confines of his monastery some ninety miles from Lhasa, and after a long journey over the Himalayas, which lasted several weeks, he and his entourage arrived in India, seeking asylum. His flight into exile embarrassed the Chinese, made difficulties for the Indian government, confirmed the exile government’s allegations of restrictions on religious freedom in China, and gave Tibetan exiles new hope for the future. For these reasons, the Karmapa is not an “ordinary” Tibetan refugee. Still, the Government of India’s caution in resolving his legal status in India demonstrates the perceived necessity of juggling concerns over Sino-Indian relations and public opinion about welcoming a highly visible Tibetan refugee. The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The politics of reincarnation and of power struggles within Tibet’s religious hierarchy have become better known to Western Buddhists through the controversial search for and recognition of the seventeenth Karmapa. The search party, which consisted of four high-ranking Kagyu lamas—Sharmapa Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, Jamyang Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Tsurpu Gyalstab Rinpoche—became divided over the selection. Tai Situ and 77

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Tsurpu claimed to have found a letter written by the sixteenth Karmapa, which indicated the whereabouts of his successor living in Tibet. The other two lamas, Sharmapa Rinpoche and Jamyang Kongtrul Rinpoche, accused Tai Situ of forging the letter. The Indian state government was forced to intervene and Tai Situ was asked to leave Sikkim, “after an IB [Intelligence Bureau—India’s domestic intelligence gathering agency] report cited him as being ‘too close to the Chinese’ ” (Gokhale 2000: 48). Eventually, Sharmapa and Jamyang Kongtrul recognized another boy, Thaye Dorje. The Dalai Lama, however, recognized Ugyen Thinley Dorjee, the boy from Kham found by Tai Situ and Tsurpu Gyalstab Rinpoche. Ugyen Thinley Dorjee was eventually enthroned in 1992, in Tsurpu monastery, near Lhasa. Chinese officials also attended the ceremony, thereby recognizing the reincarnation and making Ugyen Thinley Dorjee the only high lama to be recognized both by Beijing and Dharamsala. The seventeenth Karmapa fled Tsurpu monastery on December 28, 1999 (CNN 2000), arriving apparently unannounced in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh in January 2000. The journey of more than 800 miles was made by jeep, on foot, in taxis, and in a helicopter. The initial Chinese response was that the Karmapa had gone abroad to get musical instruments and obtain the “black hat” that is a symbol of his office (which is believed to be spun from the hair of dakinis2). The Xinhua Press Agency (the official Chinese press) “cit[ed] a letter the Karmapa had left at the monastery that said he did not mean to ‘betray the state, the nation, the monastery or the leadership’ ” (CNN 2000). It is clear, however, that China was deeply embarrassed by the “defection” of the Karmapa. Soon after his arrival in India, government-in-exile statements and even the U.S. government contended that it was “ ‘repression of religious activity by China’ that forced the Karmapa to flee” (Pushkarna 2000: 34). After the Karmapa’s escape his monastery was raided and Chinese authorities detained several people close to him, including his parents (World Tibet Network News 2000). In addition, the Chinese-Nepalese border apparently tightened somewhat, and the numbers of Tibetans fleeing to India declined. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees’ Country Report: India, some 2,200 refugees from Tibet entered India in the year 2000 (U.S. Committee for Refugees 2000: 1–2), in comparison with previous years where the number of Tibetans fleeing was closer to 2,500–3,000. The Karmapa, as many Tibetans in India told me, is not an ordinary Tibetan. In this context, his extraordinariness rests not only in his position as a high reincarnation, or trulku, but also as a trulku who was recognized by Chinese authorities and who had, in the past, made “patriotic” statements appar-

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ently in support of the Chinese position in Tibet. As such, his presence in India (and his absence from China) led some to speculate that he was a Chinese “plant.” Thus, it is his actual and potential political importance, and not only his position as the head of the Kagyu lineage, that ensures that the Government of India will not treat him like any ordinary Tibetan. The Government of India’s treatment of the Karmapa, while linked to his special status, also sheds light on the way it sees the Tibet problem. Initially, the government-in-exile announced it had asked the Indian government for “asylum” for the Karmapa.3 Then, presumably in response to communications from the Indian government (or lack of them), governmentin-exile representatives would not respond when asked about the Karmapa’s future in India (see also Kremmer and Wadhwa 2000). Swaran Singh, a China expert at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, wrote an opinion piece in the January 24, 2000 issue of the Indian publication Outlook Magazine with the title “Don’t Give Him Asylum.” In the essay he sums up the major arguments against India giving asylum to the Karmapa. He contends that the boy might be a Chinese plant and those who argue that India should use the Karmapa’s escape as a “card” to deal with the Chinese are too optimistic. Singh’s argument hinges on the belief that there was an impending rapprochement in Sino-Indian relations and that giving the Karmapa refuge will delay such an outcome (see also Filkins 2000). According to early 2001 news reports, the Karmapa and some of his supporters, including the Dalai Lama, placed pressure on the Indian government to allow him to travel more freely. One of the issues complicating the case is that the seat of the Kagyu sect is located in Rumtek, Sikkim, a part of India previously claimed by China and, until now, not acknowledged by the Chinese to be Indian territory. The Karmapa reportedly sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in which he wrote that he wanted to go to Rumtek in Sikkim “in India” to fulfill the wishes of his followers, thus acknowledging that his view of the territorial dispute is aligned with India, not with China. Indian security confined the Karmapa’s movements to within a ten-kilometer radius of Gyuto Ramoche Monastery, six kilometers from Dharamsala, and he was not allowed to speak to the press. During my stay, however, he was giving public audiences twice a week.4 It was not until over a year after the Karmapa’s arrival in India, on February 3, 2001, that Tashi Wangdi, Secretary of the Office of Cultural and Religious Affairs of the Tibetan government-in-exile, announced that the Government of India had made a decision about his status: “Today, I am very happy to inform you that

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the Government of India has formally communicated to us that the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorji has been granted refugee status in India. So we now have the formal permission by the Government of India for Him to stay in India as any other Tibetan refugee” (Department of Information and International Relations 2001). Because of my understanding of the legal status of Tibetans in India (outlined later in this chapter), I wrote to Tashi Wangdi to clarify if the Karmapa had received any special refugee status or if he was to be treated under the Foreigner’s Act “as any other Tibetan refugee.” Mr. Wangdi confirmed that the Karmapa would receive a registration certificate for residency and travel within India. “Gyalwa Karmapa will be issued R.C. [Registration Certificate] and I.C. [Identification Certificate, used by stateless Indians in lieu of a passport when they travel abroad] when he applies. His status will be the same as any other Tibetan refugee” (personal communication, March 12, 2001). The consternation the Karmapa’s flight caused within the Government of India and the difficulties it presented with respect to the response of the Chinese government highlight the problematic nature of India’s acceptance of large numbers of refugees and the tension this creates with the Chinese state. I contend that India’s stance toward the Tibetans—commonly referring to them as refugees, but in a legal or official sense not recognizing them as such; not “officially” conferring Registration Certificates on newly arrived refugees, but allowing those with Registration Certificates to remain in the country with a wide range of freedom of movement and access to education and work—enables India to walk a fine line in terms of its public image and the goal of furthering a positive relationship with Beijing. I began this chapter with the example of the Karmapa to highlight the precarious position of Tibetan refugees, who remain on unstable footing between Chinese state interests and those of India and the other countries where Tibetans live. Even though he is by many measures “extraordinary,” the Karmapa’s status as a refugee highlights the precarious position of stateless people in a world still ordered by nation-states.

The International Order of Things We are held back at the surface of an identity, prevented precisely by sentimentality from penetrating into this ulterior zone of human behaviour where historical alienation introduces some “differences” which we shall here quite simply call “injustices.” (Barthes [1957] 1992: 101)

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The study of migration, immigration, and refugees has historically been an exploration, analysis, and discourse of anomalous, chaotic forces to be controlled, legislated against, and often cited as a rationalization for militarization. Since the early 1990s, there has been increasing recognition of the historical importance of migratory movements worldwide. There has also been growing acknowledgment that migration is far from an aberrant phenomenon; rather, it is and always has been an integral part of the order of things (Castles and Miller 1993: 260). Blinders that are a legacy of using the “nation,” “society,” or a “culture” as the ultimate unit of analysis prevented theorists from incorporating movement across borders, and through time, as a crucial part of analyses on any level, from local, to national, to international or global (cf. Rosenau 1990: 21–44). It might be more accurate to say that when there has been a focus on migration, it has been on the movement of people belonging to one nationstate moving across borders to other nation-states. The focus has not been on the historical creation, and movement of national borders themselves. The emergence of “transnational” discourse was preceded by the post–World War II development of a human rights discourse. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an implementing treaty of the UDHR, was ratified by the UN in 1966. The ICCPR states, in Article 12: 1

Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. 2 Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own. 3 The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restriction except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant. 4 No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country. (Steiner and Alston 1996: 1164) Article 12 makes clear that while movement across national borders is a right, it is one that can be lawfully restricted on a number of grounds, which are broadly stated and thus open to innumerable interpretations. Furthermore, Article 13 protects “aliens” from being expelled (if they entered lawfully) and

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states that they should be given due process if expelled (Steiner and Alston 1996: 1164).5 Throughout the literature on immigration there is a “commonsense” assumption that completely unrestricted borders would put an undue social and economic burden on countries of immigration and countries of emigration alike (DeSipio and de la Garza 1998). Lifting restrictions on the flow of global capital is increasingly prevalent with the passage of provisions like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Yet the opening of capital flows is not mirrored by the perception that people need to be able to move across borders more freely as well (Sassen 1996: 9). Sassen argues that international trade agreements require transformations in the sovereignty of the nation-state. This is true for increased movements of people as well, although policy changes that facilitate this kind of movement are controversial. It is important to highlight migration as a historical human phenomenon; however, current movements should be contextualized within discourses of nationalism, internationalism (see Malkki 1994), universal human rights, democracy, and the positioning of nation-states relative to these discourses. One of the primary goals of this book is to highlight individual agency and its role vis-à-vis migration; yet, it is important to recognize the ways in which the complex positionings of states in a transnational world bound together by webs of global economics, transportation, and communication shape migratory flows and the choices migrants make. The aim of this chapter is to show how state categorizations of refugees, exiles, and immigrants—Tibetans in this case—shape both motivations for migration and, as we will see in later chapters of the book, migrants’ sense of self.

India: Primary Country of Refuge for Tibetans in Diaspora For centuries prior to the cataclysmic event that is marked as the beginning of a diaspora—the flight of the fourteenth Dalai Lama to India in 1959—Tibetans had established extensive trade networks with India, Nepal, and China. Although the extent of the power of the Lhasa government was limited primarily to Central Tibet, there was, in fact, a Tibetan civilization whose impact exceeded even the boundaries of what is referred to as “ethnic Tibet.” In other words, there were extensive trade routes that extended beyond the ethnically Tibetan areas of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Ladakh into China, Nepal, and India. Yet, the power center in Tibet, namely conservative clerics and much of the aristocracy, was firmly against innovation and contact with foreign powers.

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The clergy discouraged innovations in governance and education and was reluctant to lessen its grip on power or to encourage a more open society. Nevertheless, the existing well-worn trading and pilgrimage routes, as well as relationships in India and Nepal, gave fleeing Tibetans countries to turn to in search of refuge. On March 30, 1959, the Dalai Lama crossed into exile, but not without first receiving reassurances from the Government of India that he would be granted political asylum. According to Tsering Shakya (1999), “[Prime Minister Jawaharlal] Nehru had no hesitation in granting asylum to the Dalai Lama” (213). The act was to have serious political consequences for India’s relationship with its neighbor China. From the beginning, however, it was clear that India’s assistance to the Dalai Lama would be limited, and would not encompass recognition of a government-in-exile. In April 1959, according to Shakya, a delegation of Tibetans presented a four-point memorandum to the Indian government requesting that: 1

GOI [Government of India] should seek some form of guarantee from China for the personal safety of the Dalai Lama; 2 refugees should be allowed to enter India freely; 3 India should send a mercy mission with medical supplies; and 4 India should sponsor the Tibetan case at the United Nations. (Shakya 1999: 213) It was generally assumed that the Tibetan case would be quickly resolved and thus long-term refuge and assistance for the Dalai Lama and those Tibetans who followed him into exile would not be an issue. Nehru’s actions were circumscribed by the fact that he held India’s relationship to China to be of primary importance. Shakya notes, “Furthermore, in [Nehru’s] view India’s relation to Tibet was governed by the Sino-Indian trade agreement of 1954, the preamble of which explicitly recognized Tibet as ‘a region of China’ and thus obliged India to accept events in Tibet as the internal affair of China” (1999: 214). Opposition parties in the Indian parliament considered Nehru’s position to be a sign of weakness (214). “Right-wing Hindu parties like the Jan Sangh and the Hindu Mahasaba [Mahasabha] organized demonstrations in major Indian cities and the Praja Socialist Party declared 29 March as ‘Tibet Day’ ” (214). It was not only India’s relationship with China that influenced Nehru. Shakya writes, “Nehru’s caution was governed by his fear of India being dragged into the Cold War” (215). Because the request for asylum for the Dalai Lama was

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passed to the Government of India through the United States, Nehru was aware that the Tibetans had connections with the U.S. government. “Nehru had always believed that any U.S. involvement would slide the Himalayan region into the Cold War and he therefore had to balance his sympathy for the Tibetans with the need to prevent the Americans gaining influence in the Himalayan region” (215). The Government of India subsequently kept the Tibetans on a tight rein, not allowing them to speak to the press for several months. While some constituencies considered Nehru’s reaction to the Tibetan situation to be weak, he also greatly misjudged the Chinese response to his actions. The Dalai Lama issued his first statement from exile—referred to as the Tezpur statement—in which he countered the Chinese assertion that he was being held in India under duress. Moreover, the Dalai Lama’s statement “went on to give an account of Sino-Tibetan relations since 1950, and implied that the Chinese had broken the terms of the 17-Point Agreement by interfering in the internal affairs of Tibet” (Shakya 1999: 215–216). Further, for the first time, the Dalai Lama gave the Tibetans’ interpretation of the agreement. His statement declared that “in that [17-Point] agreement the suzerainty6 of China was accepted as there was no alternative left to the Tibetans. But the agreement stated that Tibet would enjoy full autonomy. Though the control of external events was to be in the hands of the Chinese Government it was agreed that there would be no interference by the Chinese Government in the Tibetan religion and customs and in her internal administration. In fact, after the occupation of Tibet by Chinese armies, the Tibetan Government did not enjoy any measure of autonomy, even in internal matters; the Chinese Government exercised full powers in Tibetan affairs.” Although the Dalai Lama argued that the Chinese broke the Agreement, he did not announce the outright refutation of the Agreement. (Shakya 1999: 216)

For the British, China’s failure to grant the Tibetan government autonomy invalidated the recognition of China’s “suzerainty” over Tibet. As soon as the Dalai Lama fled to India, thousands of Tibetans followed in his wake. In April 1959, the Indian government began to respond: “on the nonofficial level, the Central Relief Committee was organized by national leaders with the object of rendering relief assistance to the Tibetan refugees” (Central Relief Committee [1961?]: 8). By 1961, the Central Relief Committee estimated that there were over 30,000 Tibetans in India with approximately 20,000 more

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in Nepal.7 Initially, the refugees were housed in Missamari, a transit camp in a small township in the District of Tezpur on the northern border of Assam state. The camp was closed down in July 1960 after Tibetans were transferred to rehabilitation sites and workplaces. Another camp, at Buxa, in Upper West Bengal, was solely for monks who had fled. Almost immediately, Tibetans began establishing the infrastructure of schools and other institutions that would aid in their resettlement in India. A great number of Tibetans began working in road construction, while their children were sent to the relative safety of nascent exile schools. It was not until after a humiliating defeat in the Sino-Indian war (November 1962) that India’s position toward the Tibetan refugees substantively changed. For the first time, Nehru learned of the level of support Tibetan guerrilla fighters were receiving from the United States through the Central Intelligence Agency. India then created an army unit specifically composed of Tibetans located in the city of Dehra Dun, and the Dalai Lama was allowed to establish a de facto government-in-exile (one that has yet to be recognized by India). In addition, substantial amounts of aid were channeled to the refugees and land leases allowing them to be resettled were issued (Shakya 1999: 286). Tibetans’ Status in India One of the arguments of this book is that Tibetans’ status as they are categorized (or not) by various state agencies affects migratory movement, if not in a direct way, then in an indirect one. India has not signed the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. India is, however, party to both the ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Moreover, although today India harbors about 400,000 refugees, it does not have an internal refugee law.8 Today, Tibetans are the largest remaining group among a number that have sought refuge in India, including refugees from Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), the Chakmas (from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of what is now Bangladesh), and Tamils from Sri Lanka (Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre 1999: 4–5). The 1999 Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre conference proceedings note that India has granted asylum to nearly 100,000 Tibetan refugees. Even though India did not support the independence or autonomy of Tibet, and the continued presence of the Dalai Lama and his followers has always been a thorn in the side of Indian-Chinese relations, it has scrupulously respected the

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principle of non-refoul[e]ment.9 In 1967 the Indian Government gave asylum to a further 1,500 Tibetans and as recently as 1993 Indian [sic] gave refuge to 3,500 refugees who arrived in India through Nepal. (Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre 1999: 3)

Tibetans and other people who flee persecution in their own land are handled legally under India’s Foreigner’s Act, which dates from 1946. Thus, the government is free to expel refugees as it would any other foreigners. However, in press articles Tibetans’ “refugee status” is often referred to, indicating the understood, de facto nature of Tibetans’ presence in India as refugees. Kevin Garratt (1997) writes, “in the absence of specific treaty obligations, [India’s] international protection of ‘refugees’ is based essentially on sufferance” (1997: 32). Under the Foreigner’s Registration Act, Tibetans are required to obtain a Registration Certificate (see Figure 4.1), which must be renewed on an annual basis. Several Tibetans asserted that having to renew the Registration Certificate every year was problematic and indicative of their changeable and precarious status. Moreover, as of 1994, “newcomers,” or those who had come from Tibet since the border became relatively more open after the end of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1970s, are not supposed to be granted Registration Certificates. Tibetan government officials told me that this is an unofficial policy, an agreement between the Government of India and the Tibetan government-in-exile. The unofficial nature of this policy is important to note, and one that I will explore further as I compare Indian and U.S. state policy toward Tibetans. The government-in-exile’s policy is to encourage newcomers to return to Tibet. In August 1994, the government-in-exile announced a new policy determination that focused on new arrivals from Tibet. The directive is aimed at those coming from Tibet for audiences with the Dalai Lama or other religious teachers, pilgrimages, family reunions, or bringing children to school (Garratt 1997: 47). Garratt quotes a document containing the government-in-exile’s justification for the policy: [The increase in] new arrivals settling permanently in India . . . means that through our own efforts we are assisting the long-term evil Chinese policy of transferring large numbers of Chinese into Tibet. It is unnecessary for new arrivals to stay permanently in foreign parts all the time. It has become vital that returning in whatever number to our own land of Tibet will maintain the policy of being able to hold on to what is our own. (Garratt 1997: 47)

Figure 4.1 Tibetan Registration Certificate issued by the Indian government.

Source: Government of India.

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Although the policy makes exceptions for those who have suffered beatings and torture for their political activism, it does not recognize other types of oppression, including discrimination against Tibetans in employment and education, or threats of imprisonment. This policy, combined with that of the Government of India, which denies (legally obtained) documents to newcomers, places them structurally outside the system that would allow them at least a recognized status in India. I speculate that the reason India does not generally allow newcomers to obtain Registration Certificates is that doing so would create official records of the numbers of Tibetans allowed to stay in the country. Such information would certainly antagonize the Chinese and disrupt India’s pursuit of détente with the Chinese government. By unofficially having a policy that denies newcomers Registration Certificates, but then making it possible for them to be obtained, the Government of India allows Tibetans to cross the border into India and remain there for extended periods of time, if not permanently, in a way that does not place undue strain on Sino-Indian relations. The repercussions of not having these documents are very serious, including prison and the threat of deportation back to Tibet. In February 1998, twenty-one Tibetans were arrested in India on this basis (Tibet Justice Center 2002: 128). Tibetans and Indian Citizenship Critical to an understanding of the status of Tibetans in Indian society is the fact that obtaining Indian citizenship is possible for Tibetans born in India. During the course of my fieldwork I met several Tibetans who had obtained Indian citizenship. According to my own survey data, 5 of 211 respondents claimed to be citizens of India.10 During interviews, quite a few Tibetans expressed the belief that it was not possible for Tibetans to obtain citizenship in India. However, it is possible for Tibetans to become Indian citizens in constitutional terms. The Indian Constitution, Part II, Number 5, titled “Citizenship at the Commencement of the Constitution,” states: “At the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and— (a) who was born in the territory of India: or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India: or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.” Whether or not Tibetans are able to obtain citizenship in practice is another matter. According to one informant, an applicant needs to present a birth certifi-

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cate, a ration card available to refugees, and a school certificate to obtain Indian citizenship. Other respondents told me that the government-in-exile disallowed or simply discouraged the practice. When I asked a government-in-exile official if there was a policy prohibiting Tibetans from getting Indian citizenship, he responded that the government-in-exile has nothing to do with the process. Further, because the Tibetan Charter allows dual citizenship, the policy of the government-in-exile actually supports the practice. Yet, I found in the course of my interviews that many respondents expressed their belief that there was a stigma among Tibetans attached to obtaining Indian citizenship. In reference to this, one informant recalled, “when I was in India when we grew up, if so and so has Indian citizenship, in some ways, we look at it as ‘Oh you are not being true Tibetans,’ like not a refugee Tibetan.” DeVoe (1987) has written extensively on the ideological import of Tibetans in exile remaining stateless: “For the Tibetan, the refugee paper is expressive of a cultural, ethnic and national identity, an allegiance to the past and a candid avowal of dedication to Tibet’s future freedom” (56; cf. Goldstein 1978: 414). Several respondents stated that to look down on Tibetans who adopt Indian citizenship is wrong, noting that it is hypocritical to support Tibetans adopting U.S., Canadian, and European citizenship while condemning those that adopt Indian citizenship. Thus, even though there are no restrictions placed on becoming an Indian citizen by the government-in-exile, the feeling in Tibetan exile society in India seems so strong that it not only acts as a deterrent, but actually seems to create misinformation about the possibility of a Tibetan taking such action at all. A recent news article has led me to speculate that Tibetans are beginning to argue for the benefits of Indian citizenship for the same reasons Tibetans in the United States look favorably upon taking U.S. citizenship. In a March 19, 2002 Express India article titled “Tibetans to Cast Votes” (Roy 2002), the reporter writes that approximately 250 Tibetans in the New Delhi settlement of Manjukatilla have adopted Indian citizenship and will be voting in an upcoming election. “And for them, it is not water or garbage that is important, but foreign relations. . . . For many Tibetans, voting means complete absorption in India. Others, see it as an opportunity to aid their ongoing struggle against China.” The reporter quotes a Manjukatilla resident who had this to say about his vote: “We are going to vote for the BJP [the Baharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists] because unlike the Congress, they are openly hostile to China. And we are comfortable with that.”

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The article continues, However not all Tibetans are happy with the latest developments. Sonam Tsering is the Tibetan Welfare Officer of the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile. Says Tsering: “We are aware that most of Tibetans are going to be participating in the elections this year, but the official position of the Tibetan government is that it is not desirable at all. We are refugees in this country [and] that kind of participation in the polls may affect the relations between us and the citizens of our host country. We can’t afford this.” Tsering further adds that voting rights would mean that Tibetans have been assimilated in India. “This completely disserves our purpose which is to attain independence for our own country. Becoming citizens here means we are giving up hope,” he says, adding that with this Tibetans will lose their culture and identity. (Roy 2002)

Several interviewees pointed out that the “flexible stance” of the Indian state (in regard to Registration Certificates, for example, having a policy of sorts but not enforcing it) is very beneficial to Tibetans. However, some Tibetans also expressed exasperation with this “flexibility” and admiration for the strict guidelines and clearly stated requirements encountered when interacting with the U.S. bureaucracy. My own position, as a person with unambiguous citizenship, initially blinded me to the complexities of the issue. It was not until the end of my fieldwork period that the remarks of a number of interviewees helped me to see the relationship of Tibetans to the Indian state in a new light. I concede that India’s “flexibility” on issues related to residency permits has benefited Tibetans, but I contend that the ineffective, inefficient, exasperating behavior of the Indian bureaucracy is a deliberate policy maneuver that allows the state to deal with the Tibet situation in a way that does not antagonize China. Policies in Practice: The Lived Experience of Tibetans in India Tibetans’ status in India is a contradictory one. In many respects, Tibetans are on the receiving end of a generous and receptive Indian state policy that allows their settlement, contributes economically to their well-being, and finances their education. Yet, at the same time, individual Tibetans often expressed feelings of insecurity with respect to their legal status vis-à-vis the Indian state and their position in Indian society. It must be said that, without exception, high-level functionaries of the government-in-exile viewed the relationship between Tibetans and Indians as

Refugees to Citizens, Tibetans, and the State 91

mostly harmonious. The standard rhetoric, framed by the Dalai Lama, is that Tibet and India share historic links and that India, as the birthplace of Buddhism, has always been a place of pilgrimage for Tibetans. As the Dalai Lama said over forty years ago: “From time immemorial, India and Tibet have been linked through religion, culture and economy. Never has there been any quarrel between the two countries during their long association. Today, when a tragic event has befallen Tibet, India’s assistance to Tibet in her hour of need will never be forgotten by Tibetans” (Central Relief Committee [1961?]: 3). In 2001, the Dalai Lama described the relationship between Tibet and India as follows: “Ever since Buddhism came to Tibet, we always considered India as the land of our guru. Culturally and spiritually we are close to India and Tibet’s fate is linked to India’s fate and the issue of Tibet is also the issue of India” (Saraf 2001). It is clear that Tibetans are accorded privileges that have not been available to other refugee groups (such as the ability to work, the grant of land leases to the settlements, and Indian funding of Tibetan education). Yet, I contend that the legal status of most Tibetans in India, coupled with structural elements of Indian society and the isolationist stance of the government-in-exile, have contributed to Tibetans understanding themselves and being seen by others as a people apart in India. The establishment of separate schools administered jointly by India and the government-in-exile, the closed nature of the settlements, and the discouragement of and very low rates of intermarriage with Indians have all contributed to the fact that Tibetans do not feel they are an integral part of Indian society. This should not be regarded, however, as a criticism of either Indian society or government-in-exile policy. It is, however, one of the outcomes of an integrated exile government policy position that is rooted in a determination not only to “preserve” Tibetan culture in exile, but also to provide an environment where it can flourish. As stated in Chapter 3, this is presented as a strategy against cultural genocide that is taking place in Tibet. An anxious period of tension between Tibetans and Indians occurred in 1994 in Dharamsala when a young Tibetan man was accused of murdering an Indian. Riots ensued in which Indians broke windows, vandalized, looted, and attempted to set a number of Tibetan homes, businesses, government offices, and institutions on fire. The disturbances lasted several days. The most disheartening aspect of the disturbances for many Tibetans was that a prominent local Indian politician egged on the rioters and voiced negative sentiments toward the Dalai Lama. The riots led the Dalai Lama to suggest that if Tibetans were not welcome in McLeod Ganj/Dharamsala, perhaps they should relocate. Other

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local Indian leaders met this suggestion with vociferous opposition. Other such disturbances have occurred in Manali, another Indian city. The most commonly heard explanation for the antagonism is the fact that despite their status as “refugees,” Tibetans often are more prosperous than their Indian neighbors, leading to jealousy and resentment (Dhondup 1994; Tibetan Review 1994). Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) officials almost uniformly downplayed any suggestion that there are tensions in Indian-Tibetan relations and portrayed the 1994 events in Dharamsala as an aberration in a long history of amicable relations. An official in the Department of Education stated that individuals have problems with other individuals but that in general Tibetans and Indians get along well together. When I directly mentioned the 1994 disturbances, he paused and then said these are isolated incidents. He cautioned, “People may have told you things, but really . . . it’s not a problem.” He remarked further that Indian society is “very live and let live, as long as you don’t try to integrate.” Another Tibetan, who also worked for the CTA but is now living in the United States as part of the resettlement project, had this to say about Tibetans’ relationships with India: And I might here as well comment on the Indian context. I think there are stray cases, in Dharamsala there was one case and in the settlements there are some other cases [of tension between Tibetans and Indians]. So the common people, by and large, they see these things and they see people going abroad. So they think that people going abroad are going away from that kind of problem; it’s a kind of solution. . . . I see the depth of the historical relationship between India and Tibet, the cultural relationship, the geopolitical relationship that we share. The kind of Indian interest in the Tibetan diaspora . . . it matters a lot. And what have the Indian government and the Indian people given to the Tibetans for the last forty years, including giving asylum to His Holiness [the Dalai Lama]. I think these things need to be considered. And having pockets of the Tibetan settlement, it was the wishes of His Holiness and the foresight of the Indian Prime Minister Nehru that we were able to maintain those identities. And today, these institutions have produced a second and third generation of people who really take care of Tibet. So that, I think, losing that historical sight is pretty sad.

These comments not only reflect the official government view but also highlight several important elements that shape the place of Tibetans in Indian society, most notably the isolation of Tibetan settlements and Indian societal structures and attitudes that influence Tibetans’ place in India (cf. Methfessel 1997).

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In addition to the views of government-in-exile officials, it is crucial to present the views of “ordinary” Tibetans about their situation vis-à-vis the Indian state and the Indian society in which they live. In an interview, a wellrespected holder of the Geshe degree at Sera Je monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, told me he felt that Tibetans’ status in India was based on the esteem that the Government of India had for the Dalai Lama: We are very grateful to India, however, if the Dalai Lama does not remain any longer [this is a gentle way of referring to the Dalai Lama’s mortality], then perhaps India won’t continue helping us. For example, India has given us shelter as refugees, but it is only because of the Dalai Lama. I think it is aimed for their benefit and not that India is concerned about us and given us shelter. Therefore, I feel it is good if more younger Tibetans can go to foreign countries. Tibetans visiting foreign countries will work and then gradually they can maintain our culture by building schools and so forth. However, many people think that people will lose their culture if they visit foreign countries. But I can see losing our culture while we stay in India. Therefore, I think it is similar wherever we live.

A school director in Bylakuppe with whom I spoke echoed this sentiment when I asked him if Tibetans “felt at home” in India: “If one day the Indian government says ‘You Tibetans please leave,’ at that time even if we don’t want to go, we are powerless. We know this very clearly. Today in India we have homes and land: however, we feel in the true sense that these do not belong to us.” Several Tibetans whom I asked about this topic mentioned their legal status as Tibetans as the primary source of this insecurity. One U.S.-educated government official said that the Indian government cannot officially take all these refugees, and that they must keep a low profile. When I asked him if he thought Tibetans felt insecure, he replied saying Tibetans do feel insecure—not that they think they will be kicked out of India, but that without legal status, things could change and people feel this insecurity. Another young man who worked in a CTA office complained about how the Registration Certificates were administered. He questioned the practice of renewing Registration Certificates every year, asking “Why don’t they give them for five years or for ten years? Like this, we feel like we have no security, that we could be kicked out of India at any time.” I then asked him if he thought this feeling of insecurity is one of the reasons people want to go to the United States. He firmly discounted this idea, saying that Tibetans’ reasons for migration were purely economic.

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Although a review of the survey data I collected during the course of the research confirms that insecurity is not in the forefront of people’s minds as a motivating factor for migration, I feel it is a question of state power that deeply affects the lived experience of Tibetans in India. Several Tibetans interviewed in New Mexico and during public events have remarked that having legal resident status that leads to citizenship mitigates this feeling of insecurity. In July 2001, during the inaugural event of the Tibet Center–New Mexico, a nonprofit organization established to promote Tibetan culture in New Mexico, one of the organizers mentioned, in a short history of Tibetans in the United States, that many Tibetans had acquired U.S. citizenship and that this was positive because they did not have to remain “stateless.” It is perhaps a measure of the sensitive nature of Tibetans’ status in India that people feel more able to speak about the insecurity of statelessness when they are in the United States and are becoming citizens. Of course, as described above, in India recent refugees from Tibet face even more insecurity as they are denied Registration Certificates, which provide legal residency. In their case, I think it can be unequivocally stated that difficulties with legal status in India directly contribute to the desire to migrate to countries where they might achieve a more secure legal status.

Tibetans in Nepal According to the 1998 Tibetan Demographic Survey (TDS), there are 13,720 Tibetans living in Nepal (Central Tibetan Administration 2000a). During my fieldwork in India, I heard many stories from Tibetans who had lived in or recently traveled to Nepal about worsening persecution of Tibetans by Nepalese officials and increased tensions between Nepalese and Tibetan people (see Frechette 2004: 123–148 for a comprehensive analysis of the position of Tibetans vis-à-vis the Nepalese state). The Communist Party in Nepal, which has significant influence in the government and strong diplomatic and economic relations with China, has put pressure on the Nepalese government to restrict not only the movement of Tibetans, but even their cultural practices. In the year 2000, in the aftermath of the Karmapa’s escape, the Chinese apparently pressured Nepal to repatriate Tibetans trying to cross over from Tibet to Nepal and then to India: Unofficial reports received by TIN [Tibet Information Network] indicate that in the last two months at least 60 Tibetan refugees who reached border areas of Nepal after escaping across the Himalayas have been returned to police on the Chinese side of the border. Tibetans in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, have

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also faced restrictions in the organisation of cultural and social events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the enthronement of the Dalai Lama. The revision of a border treaty by the government of Nepal affecting Tibetans who travel from India to Nepal means that Tibetan refugees returning to Tibet via Nepal will face increasing difficulties in future. Nineteen Tibetans have been arrested and are now imprisoned in Nepal following implementation of the revisions, which seek to intensify security on the Nepal-India border. (Tibet Information Network 2000)

The Nepalese government has a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): [Tibetan] refugees detained by the Nepalese police are escorted to immigration in Kathmandu and are later allowed to transit to India. The UNHCR has until recently sought to ensure that local officials in border areas are aware of this procedure by making official visits to police posts and local offices in border areas of Nepal where Tibetan refugees arrive from Tibet. Since the escape of the Karmapa, however, these visits have been suspended by the Nepalese government, making it difficult for the UNHCR to monitor the situation in these areas. (Tibet Information Network 2000)

Tibetans returned to Chinese officials are routinely detained, beaten, and tortured. A TIN report released on January 2, 2002, stated that the China/Tibet and Nepal border had become much tighter and that the numbers of Tibetans escaping to Nepal had fallen dramatically from previous years. Roland Weil, Protection Officer of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, told TIN: “Approximately 2,500 Tibetan refugees arrive in Nepal every year. The total annual figure for 2001 is likely to be well under 2,000. The safety of Tibetans crossing the mountains into Nepal is increasingly uncertain, partly due to the risks they face on arrival in Nepal, and also because many guides have been arrested over the past year.” (Tibet Information Network 2002)

Tibetan refugees living in Nepal have also faced increasing discrimination in recent years. According to a report circulated by TIN, the Nepalese government tried to suppress Losar (the Tibetan New Year) celebrations in the year 2001. Although “anti-Chinese” political activity had previously been banned, this was the first time that a cultural celebration had been outlawed (Tibet Information Network 2001).

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According to a March 2, 2001 Agence France-Presse report, “Nepal has been a beneficiary of generous Chinese aid in recent years that has gone to the building of power stations, highways and hospitals. Bilateral trade has jumped from about 72 million dollars in 1998 to 204 million dollars last year.” Increasing closeness with the Chinese leadership seems to be the primary reason behind the increasing harassment and arrest of Tibetan refugees and even those who have chosen to resettle in Nepal on a long-term basis. Although I did not visit Nepal as part of my field research, many Tibetans I spoke to with family in Nepal cited this increased repression as both a cause for worry and a reason for migration to the West. According to a report titled “Tibet’s Stateless Nationals: Tibetan Refugees in Nepal” (2002), issued by the Tibet Justice Center, a Berkeley, California–based nonprofit advocacy organization, Tibetans in Nepal are increasingly insecure because of government policies toward them. Like India, Nepal does not officially recognize Tibetans as refugees. Tibetans there are not allowed legal access to Nepali citizenship and have a difficult time obtaining Registration Certificates, which like in India must be renewed every year (Tibet Justice Center 2002). Since 2003 a number of Tibetans have been forcibly repatriated after they had reached Kathmandu. The repatriations took place with the cooperation of the Nepalese government, which forcibly removed the Tibetans and handed them over to Chinese authorities over the protests of the international community (International Campaign for Tibet 2005: 16). The Tibetans “were subjected to severe maltreatment after being placed in Chinese custody, and spent between three months and a year in jail” (16). More Tibetans were repatriated from Nepal throughout 2004. In January 2005, the Nepalese government announced that it would close the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office, considered to be the office of the Dalai Lama’s representative in Nepal. The signing of a peace agreement between the government and Maoist rebels in November 2006, and the incorporation of the Maoists in the Nepalese government beginning April 2007, does not bode well for the status of Tibetans in Nepal. Most recently, in support of the protests by Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and neighboring Chinese provinces that began in March 2008, Tibetans in Nepal coordinated a wave of protests in sympathy of their compatriots. In response the Nepalese government arrested over 8,000 protestors between March and July of 2008 (Saunders 2008). Further, according to Kate Saunders, reporting for the Wall Street Journal Asia, the Nepalese government officials continue to deport recently arrived Tibetans and “have been following their Chinese counterparts in using the term ‘illegal immigrants’ to

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describe these refugees. The Nepalese government has now announced that it plans to deport Tibetan exiles lacking legal papers to India even though many have been [in Nepal] for years” (Saunders 2008).

Tibetans in the West: Early Migration to Switzerland and Canada The Swiss government, in an arrangement with the Swiss Red Cross, agreed to accept 1,000 Tibetans for resettlement in the 1960s. However, because of concerns about the state of the Swiss economy, the government stopped allowing entry after 800 of the 1,000 were resettled. It was not until 1979 that the remaining Tibetans were allowed to enter the country. Most of these people appear to be relatives of the initial 1,000 (Tibetan Review 1979: 6). According to Korom (1999), 1,200 Tibetans were resettled in Switzerland by 1981 and “another few dozen children were born in exile” (5). Most of the refugees were settled in the eastern, German-speaking part of the country in three distinct kinds of environments. Whole families were settled in Heimstätten (planned housing areas), whereas “unaccompanied children” (either “real” orphans or “social” orphans) were placed either in a children’s village called Kinderdorf Pestalozzi or in Swiss foster homes. Of these unaccompanied children, 160 were placed in foster homes and 72 were placed in the Kinderdorf. (Korom 1999: 5)

These three kinds of family and living arrangements resulted in very different levels of acculturation and identification with the refugees’ Tibetan ethnicity. The Heimstätten proved to be an almost insular environment where adults worked in factories with loud machinery that prevented much discussion with their non-Tibetan Swiss neighbors (Korom 1999: 5–6). “In addition, their living quarters were often so close to their places of employment that Tibetans would go home for lunch, thus eliminating most possibilities for extended interaction with their Swiss counterparts” (6). Korom recounts that the children placed in the Kinderdorf attended “Tibetan language and culture classes on a regular basis, scoring high in language competency, cultural knowledge, and performance skills, while achieving a similar level of fluency in German” (1999: 7). This living situation seems to be very similar to that at Tibetan boarding schools in India, where a high level of Tibetan cultural competency is ensured, while at the same time the language of the host country is taught in order to achieve a high level of functionality in that country as well.

98 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

Children raised in Swiss foster homes, on the other hand, experienced an increased level of acculturation and tended to suffer more with identity issues. According to Korom, despite an explicit clause in adoption agreements “that foster parents should see to it that Tibetan children have ample opportunity to nurture their own language, religion, and culture, this became difficult as time passed” (1999: 5). These children assimilated into mainstream Swiss society at a much quicker pace than their Kinderdorf counterparts who developed a hyphenated Swiss-Tibetan identity. Still, because Tibetans display obvious phenotypic differences from the majority of Swiss citizens, no matter how assimilated they become they will always be perceived as different. This difference has led to a “severe sense of cultural confusion” (9). Many of the foster children, however, have been rediscovering their ethnic identities after secondary school (10). During my fieldwork in India, several interviewees noted that a number of TibetanSwiss youth were returning to India in an attempt to recover or rediscover their Tibetan identity. Tibetans in Switzerland were initially accommodated with a variety of legal statuses. The Heimstätten were given refugee status. Under this they received a “Niederlassung C” (a right of domicile) and a so-called Nansen Pass, a type of passport for stateless people accepted in many countries (though a Tibetan who wants to travel abroad with this “passport” has to apply for a visa to the country he or she wants to go to, which can take quite some time). Most of the foster children were not officially adopted by their families and they received the Nansen Pass for refugees. The foster children who were adopted received citizenship soon after their arrival in Switzerland (Martin Brauen, personal communication, November 27, 2001 and December 12, 2001). It seems that quite a few Tibetans who initially received Nansen Passes eventually applied for citizenship. Citizenship in Switzerland follows a Germanic model, which is based on parentage (as opposed to the jus solis model adopted by the United States, which automatically confers citizenship on those born in the country). Those applying for Swiss citizenship encounter rules that vary from canton to canton. It is clear, however, that many Swiss-Tibetans went through the process of becoming Swiss citizens. According to Brauen, “The main reason (at least among the older Tibetans): They can easily travel to China/Tibet with a Swiss passport, whereas traveling to Tibet as a refugee is quite dangerous. In case the authorities find out that a Tibetan refugee traveled to Tibet he/she can lose the status as a refugee” (personal communication, November 27, 2001).

Refugees to Citizens, Tibetans, and the State 99

According to the Canada Tibet Committee, after Switzerland, Canada was the second country to respond to the Dalai Lama and the government-in-exile’s efforts to resettle a number of refugees in the West. Canadians had been collaborating with European aid agencies (with help from CIDA [the Canadian International Development Agency] after 1970) to help Tibetan refugees resettle in India since the establishment of the Tibetan Refugee Aid Society in Vancouver in 1963 by the late George Woodcock and other concerned Canadians. Under the Tibetan Refugee Program Canada admitted 228 individuals in 1971–72. There were settlement programs in Quebec, Ontario and the Prairies. There are now 600–700 Tibetan-Canadians, over 200 people living in Ontario and smaller communities in Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia. (Canada Tibet Committee 2003)

Jane Gardner conducted research on transnational connections and identity construction among Tibetans living in Montreal, and her dissertation provides insight into this particular community in the 1990s (Gardner 1999). Beginning in the late 1990s, Tibetans who had come to the United States (generally on tourist visas) were encouraged by asylum policies in the United States and Canada to cross the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, and make their way to Toronto, Ontario. Once in Ontario, they submitted asylum claims to the Canadian government. According to a newspaper article in the National Post, in the first two weeks of August 1999, 123 Tibetans filed asylum claims (Tanner 1999). The rush was apparently fueled by rumors that Canada was accepting these claims. The small influx prompted a letter to the editor, which reprimanded Ottawa officials for falling for Tibetans’ “sad stories” and granting asylum to people who do not fit the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees’ definition of a refugee (Francis 1999). Brian Given, an anthropologist who has studied Tibetan immigration to Canada, wrote a response to the letter, noting that many refugees do fall under the definition of “refugee” according to the Convention; that Tibetans, although safe in India, live there with “temporary resident permits”; and further, they are not permanent residents of the United States, so the United States cannot be considered a safe third country of refuge. He argues that Tibetans have been caught in an “international game of ‘pass the buck.’ ” Given goes on to cite the fact that the large majority of Canadian Tibetans are employed and have paid Canada far more in taxes than they have received from the government in terms of social welfare programs (Given 1999).

100 Locating the Tibetan Diaspora in a World of Nation-States

Conclusion Thus far, I have attempted to establish the formalized framework—discourse and state policy—that orders but does not contain Tibetan agency, as Tibetans work within and beyond these frameworks. Much of the literature on immigrants and refugees does not accord them with agency, and although I would agree that immigrants and refugees are by definition in less powerful positions than those with birth-right citizenship in the nation-states where they reside, they are not entirely powerless. Indeed, it is the policies of nation-states (and in the case of the Tibetan government-in-exile, a nonstate) that in many ways determine what status a person will choose in order to move across borders. The majority of Tibetans in India have chosen to remain stateless as a way of articulating their allegiance to a Tibetan identity. Remaining stateless is a reminder to Tibetans themselves, to the Indian government that harbors them, and to the Chinese as well that there is a continuing Tibetan refugee issue to be dealt with. However, these very same people are choosing to take U.S. citizenship for ostensibly the same reasons: that they can serve the Tibetan cause faithfully and well by becoming a U.S. citizen. On the face of it, there is a contradiction here: why does adopting citizenship in India, also a pluralist democracy active in the international arena, not confer the same “political voice” as U.S. citizenship? The answer lies, at least partially, in the place of each state in the international arena. Tibetans believe that the United States has more clout than India, or at least less at stake than India, which is, after all, China’s vulnerable neighbor. As we will see, many Tibetans object to the adoption of citizenship in Europe and the United States as well as in South Asia. Others object to large numbers of Tibetans migrating from South Asia at all. For these people, India and Nepal’s geographic proximity to Tibet, its cultural links, and the presence of the Dalai Lama make India or Nepal the only option as a “second home.” Still, that people are giving voice to the contradiction of unequal citizenships speaks volumes, I would argue, about a transformation in what it means to be loyal to one’s country in a transnational context.


The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project: The Lottery, the “Lucky 1,000,” and Immigrant Ambassadors

Introduction DURING THE FIRST FORTY YEARS OF THE Tibetan diaspora, the majority of effort and resources of the government-in-exile were directed toward the successful resettlement of Tibetans in India and Nepal. However, the Dalai Lama and the government-in-exile lobbied for over fifteen years to allow planned migration to the United States. In a short article titled “A Message from the Dalai Lama” in the November 1992 issue of the Tibetan Review, the Dalai Lama stated, “We requested both the U.S. and Canadian governments to accept a thousand Tibetans each since the early 1970s. The Canadian government agreed to admit 500 on an experimental basis, with plans to take more later. However the U.S. government would accept no Tibetans at that time” (Dalai Lama 1992: 8). This chapter explores the antecedents to the 1990 Immigration Act, which authorized the first large-scale immigration of Tibetans to the United States, and describes the history of the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP). I describe the structure of the TUSRP, the application process, the lottery that was used to choose among applicants, and, most importantly, the way the project was initially received in India. Even in Tibetans’ early responses to the TUSRP we clearly see the triad of concerns (economics, politics, and culture) that permeate this book.

A History of Tibetan Immigration to the United States Rinchen Dharlo, the Dalai Lama’s former representative in the United States, wrote in an article titled “A Brief History of Tibetans in North America” (1994) that “the first Tibetans to set foot on American soil were members of a Tibetan 103


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Government trade delegation led by the late Tsepon Shakabpa in 1947” (12; see also Knaus 1999; Korom 1999: 12; Shakya 1999). It was clear, even at the time, that this delegation had political aims as well. As for Tibetans as sources of labor, according to Korom (1999), on several occasions the United States explored options for bringing in Tibetans specifically to work: in 1959, a feasibility study was conducted on the viability of importing yaks to Alaska “to create a familiar mode of subsistence for potential Tibetan refugees. The study, which coincided with the C.I.A. [Central Intelligence Agency]-sponsored guerrilla training, suggested that the proposition of herding Tibetan yaks would cause unnecessary competition for scarce resources in the state, and the plan was dropped” (12–13). In 1967, six Tibetans were brought to Maine to work as loggers during a labor shortage. The group eventually expanded to thirty individuals who scattered across the country as the logging company suffered from a recession (Messerschmidt 1976: 48–70). Many of the original logging families ended up in the Portland, Oregon/southwest Washington area and were instrumental in establishing the area as a TUSRP cluster site (Tenzin Kalsang Choephel, personal communication, October 2000). Another group came under the auspices of the University of Washington in Seattle: “Sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation under a grant for ‘Free World Scholars,’ these refugees were used as informants for extensive anthropological studies of life in the Sakya region [of Tibet]” (Grunfeld 1996: 209). Other authors have focused on what are perhaps the most significant and socially influential sources of Tibetan labor in the United States—teachers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West (see Fields 1981; Tweed 1992). Beginning in the 1960s, several Tibetan lamas who had fled Tibet began to teach Tibetan Buddhism in the United States, some of them settling permanently (Dharlo 1994: 12).1 Thus, up until the 1990s, most Tibetan immigration occurred individually (with the exception of the lumberjacks) through the acquisition of work and religious visas and eventually citizenship, often through marriage to U.S. citizens. The sum total of Tibetan immigration to the United States prior to 1990 meant that there were approximately 500 Tibetans in the United States when the 1990 Immigration Act was passed (Nassar and Taklha 1995: 6).

The 1990 Immigration Act, Tibetan Provisions Ed Bednar, a former New York City Director of Refugee Services, spearheaded the organizing of the TUSRP. During an interview in March 2001, Bednar recounted that he became familiar with the Tibet issue when the Dalai Lama first came to the United States in 1979 and spoke at Harvard University. Subse-

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quently, Bednar helped to arrange for a tour of Tibetan Buddhist monks to Catholic monasteries in the United States. These encounters led him to be “profoundly moved by the Tibetan spiritual tradition and culture which had been displaced and then transplanted in exile.” Additionally, he became intensely aware of how the Chinese state restricts the practice of religion in Tibet. During the late 1980s, Bednar attended a talk by T. C. Tethong at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.2 Tethong talked about the situation in Tibet; Bednar was moved to approach him at the end of the presentation and suggest that they attempt to bring Tibetans to the United States. According to Bednar, Tethong responded that they had tried that before but it had not worked because Tibetans do not have “refugee status” in the United States. Bednar then came up with the idea of requesting entry of Tibetans as “displaced people,” based on the fact that they are not firmly resettled in India and Nepal. The legislation would thus not refer to them as refugees. Bednar suggested that they not try to get money (federal support is only given to refugees) but instead aim for visas, highlighting the fact that these would be self-supporting individuals. He suggested they ask for visas for 1,000 “anchor relatives,” who would be allowed to bring over their immediate family (spouses and children under twenty-one years of age) once they were well established in the United States. Bednar wrote out a four-page memo outlining these particulars and went to Barney Frank, the congressman from Massachusetts, and Rodney Barker, an attorney and president of the New England Center for Immigration Attorneys. Bednar asked Frank if he would consider sponsoring such legislation. What was originally conceived as the 1990 Tibet Immigration Act was eventually folded into the 1990 Immigration Act as Section 134, Tibetan Provisions, because it was decided that a free-standing bill would attract too much attention from China. Bednar also approached Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy for his support. Bednar noted that Kennedy’s staff immigration liaison, Michael Myers, was also extremely helpful in getting the legislation passed. The idea was eventually presented as a package that included the idea of cluster site communities, a job offer for each “anchor relative” prior to their arrival in the United States, arrangements for housing, and English-language tutoring. This complete package, and the additional fact that there was no budget attached, helped persuade Congress to vote for it. Bednar founded the TUSRP in 1989, which began a “campaign for the immigration of 1,000 displaced Tibetans currently residing in India and Nepal” (Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project 1991: 1). Bednar described the TUSRP as a


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“coalition of Tibetan and American associations, private voluntary organizations and U.S. resettlement agencies, working in conjunction with the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama” (1). The intent was to “amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to revise the system of admission of aliens on the basis of family reunification and to meet identified labor shortages, and for other purposes.”3 Section 134, Tibetan Provisions of the Immigration Act, was offered by Barney Frank (Howe 1991). The act was amended to allow 1,000 immigrant visas for “qualified displaced aliens”— in this case defined as “a native of Tibet” who “since before the date of the enactment of this Act, has been continuously residing in India or Nepal.” A “native of Tibet” is further defined as follows: “an alien shall be considered to be a native of Tibet if the alien was born in Tibet or is the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of an individual born in Tibet.” In addition, the amendment required that the visas be made available in an equitable manner, “giving preference to those aliens who are not firmly resettled in India or Nepal or who are most likely to be resettled successfully in the United States.”4 The distinction was to be carried through in the planning and implementation process in the United States. Bednar told me that this issue of equity was what they worked on the most in the crafting of the plan. Bednar described the concern as a balance of two factors: on the one hand, including people from the top of Tibetan society with leadership abilities, with the expectation that they would be articulate about the situation in Tibet, and on the other hand, including “the poorest of the poor, the destitute.”

U.S. Immigration Policy in the 1990s: Tibetan Inroads The first significant Tibetan migration to the United States occurred in a context of increasing limits placed on immigration. Debate over the 1990 Immigration Act occurred at a time of great global upheaval. The 1989 massacres in Tiananmen Square and the collapse of socialist states in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were forcing Congress to rethink asylum policies. Reform concentrated on legal rather than “illegal” immigration (as in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act). Senator Edward Kennedy had grown increasingly dissatisfied with the repeal of the National Origins Quota system that he had helped to implement in 1965. He was particularly concerned that Irish and other European immigrants were being “shut out” (Gimpel and Edwards 1999: 186). Other concerns included revising the numbers of visas allocated for the various grades of preference. “Preference” in this case refers to the prioritization of fam-

The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project 107

ily relationships in the process of reunification. Many wanted to emphasize family reunification further (for example, shortening waiting periods for people trying to reunite “immediate” family members, both as citizens and permanent residents, and at the same time limiting the number of visas to adult married siblings of U.S. citizens). Republicans were trying to emphasize visa allocation for “skilled” immigrants who would come to fill specific jobs in U.S. industry. Democrats shared the position of organized labor that employers should be required to prove that these were positions that could not be filled by American workers. There were also proposed caps on the total number of people who could immigrate per year (Gimpel and Edwards 1999: 185–199). The primary obstacle to passing Section 134 was fear on the part of Congress that significant Tibetan migration would interfere with U.S.-Chinese relations. The New York Times noted that “The law does not refer to the Tibetans as refugees, thereby avoiding a delicate issue that might well anger Beijing” (Howe 1991: A-14; cf. Nassar and Taklha 1995: 6). Further, the legislation specifically stated that Tibetans would receive no federal funding or benefits that are accorded to refugees. This was one of the stumbling blocks the authors removed in order to get the legislation approved in a climate of pervasive anti-immigrant sentiment and consternation over the budget deficit. So in the end, special “immigrant” visas were distributed to exile Tibetans, who otherwise would not have been eligible, as the countries where they had residence—India and Nepal—were oversubscribed (Howe 1991; Nassar n.d.: 9). Yet, at the same time, the factors that made Congress look favorably on passing such legislation at that time cannot be overlooked. The 1990 Immigration Act was debated in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, which disposed many Americans and members of Congress to take a harder line toward China. The first meeting between the Dalai Lama and a U.S. president, George H. W. Bush, took place on April 17, 1991. The meeting between the Dalai Lama and the president was characterized as “unofficial” and pointedly took place in the family quarters, not in the Oval Office—both signals made with the intention of appeasing Beijing’s certain hostile reaction to such a meeting. In spite of the efforts at appeasement, and other indications that U.S. policy on Tibet came second to U.S.-Chinese relations, I contend that the 1990 Immigration Act was one of a number of legislative actions that signaled change in the direction of U.S. policy toward Tibet. For instance, in November 1991 President Bush signed a State Department authorization act that declared Tibet an “occupied country” whose true representative was the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile (Finn 1991).


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

For the Tibetan immigrants of the 1990s, their status as “immigrants” as opposed to “refugees” meant that they received none of the federal assistance afforded refugees. Yet, like all immigrants, their entry into the United States required sponsors who were willing to take responsibility for finding them employment and, moreover, who were legally responsible if they became a “public charge.” Generally, it is an immigrant’s close relatives who have already become permanent residents or U.S. citizens who sponsor them. Because of the small Tibetan population in the United States at that time, it was necessary that most of the sponsors be non-Tibetan. The TUSRP, working with project coordinators at each site, was required to produce guaranteed jobs for each of the 1,000 “anchor” Tibetans before they could receive a visa from the U.S. government.

U.S. Tibet Policy The label “displaced Tibetans,” while being suitable language to facilitate the passage of the 1990 legislation, is emblematic of the difficulty of incorporating stateless people into the body of a nation-state. As I will examine further in Chapter 9, the way Tibetans’ nationality and place of birth was categorized by the United States became a point of contention during the immigration and naturalization process. Although Tibetans resettled in the United States as “immigrants,” many people nonetheless see them as prototypical “refugees,” and as such they receive the “symbolic capital” of refugees. During one interview with a former sponsor of a Tibetan in New Mexico, the sponsor related a story of visiting a car dealership and trying to wrangle a better deal out of the salesman by telling the dramatic story of his Tibetan friend’s escape across the Himalayas. The concurrence of the 1990 Immigration Act with the burgeoning of the Free Tibet Movement led me to suggest above that the legislation that allowed 1,000 Tibetans entry into the United States signaled a change in U.S.-Tibet policy. I will qualify that statement here by suggesting that the 1990 Immigration Act—unlike other pieces of legislation that more directly address Beijing’s rule in Tibet, such as the 1991 State Authorization Act that recognized Tibet as an occupied country—indirectly signifies support of the Tibetan government-in-exile in terms that do not overtly jeopardize the U.S.-China relationship. One U.S.-based TUSRP organizer said of the balancing act, “They allowed a thousand to come in. And it was a way of the United States acknowledging their concern for the situation, but at the same time, they didn’t want to make a large amount because they didn’t want it to draw attention from China.” Yet only a few years later, the U.S. government did in fact begin to risk Beijing’s displeasure in a more substantial way. In a clearly significant move on the

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part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. government in general, in 1995 the first asylum petition by Tibetans was accepted when three monks were granted asylum in the United States (World Tibet Network News 1995). Since then, a number of Tibetans have been granted asylum in the United States. According to the International Campaign of Lawyers for Tibet (ICLT) (now the Tibet Justice Center), a nonprofit organization that has been assisting Tibetans in obtaining refugee status in the United States, the number of Tibetans who have been granted asylum is difficult to ascertain because they are considered “Chinese” and not counted separately as Tibetans. However, it appears that Tibetans have been making successful petitions for asylum since 1995. Tibetans born in India or Nepal may be at a disadvantage, as it is possible that asylum judges may consider them to be sufficiently resettled in India or Nepal where there is not a significant risk of persecution (see Garratt 1997). However, a volunteer at ICLT told me that she had done some research into the matter with lawyers who had dealt with these cases, and few of them cited “firm resettlement” in India or Nepal as an obstacle to obtaining asylum in the United States. In effect, Tibetans born in those countries argue that India and Nepal’s refusal to sign on to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the underdevelopment of the Tibetan settlements, the lack of employment opportunity, and occasionally oppression from Indian police all add up to a situation where Tibetans are not firmly resettled in India and that this constitutes sufficient grounds for obtaining asylum in the United States. Since September 11, 2001, however, increased scrutiny of all asylum claims has affected Tibetans. An illustrative case is that of Sonam Chodon, who claimed she was a nun fleeing persecution from China. She was detained on arrival at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., in 2003, and subsequently received the support of Tibet activists, the media, and even a U.S. senator who claimed that U.S. policies were too harsh and that asylum seekers were being unnecessarily detained. She was indicted for passport fraud after it was determined that her passport was not legitimate. In a news article about Sonam Chodon’s case, Michael J. Garcia, Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is quoted as saying, “We are a welcoming nation, obviously. . . . We have a very broad and generous asylum policy for people who legitimately meet those standards” (Markon 2005). Included among the approximately 5,000–7,000 Tibetans estimated to be in the United States are a certain number of undocumented Tibetans who entered the United States on tourist visas and have elected to stay. Increasing numbers will apply for asylum or another kind of visa in an attempt to stay


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

longer than a tourist visa allows. Because employment opportunities for undocumented workers are greater in urban centers, undocumented Tibetans are undoubtedly concentrated in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, where there are networks of already-established Tibetans. Since at least 2000, the year of my fieldwork in India, there was speculation in the Tibetan community that tourist visas were becoming more difficult to obtain, either because of reluctance on the part of the U.S. embassy to issue them to Tibetans they suspected of planning on overstaying their visas, or on the advice of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) alarmed at the numbers of Tibetans seeking to leave India. In 2000 I went to the U.S. embassy in New Delhi seeking answers to a number of questions I had about the TUSRP. I inquired about the perceived increased difficulty in obtaining visas and was assured by the consul that in fact, in 2000, more Tibetans than ever had received tourist visas, primarily to attend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., that featured Tibetans that year. Bringing up the numbers on his computer, he told me that 352 visas had been issued to stateless people that year, and in India about 95 percent of those would be Tibetans, the remainder being Afghans or others. This led to a discussion of the numbers of Tibetans in the United States, and I became aware that the consul was under the impression that there were many thousands of Tibetans already living in the United States. When I told him that the estimate was between 5,000 and 7,000 he was very surprised. Eventually, I asked him how many he thought there were and he replied, “50,000.” I remember thinking, “Well, then, the United States should just issue 50,000 immigrant visas to every Tibetan in South Asia who wants to go to the United States and be done with it!” Needless to say, the U.S. government has not issued visas for all Tibetans who desire to immigrate to the United States. However, the U.S. government did allow the CTA a great deal of latitude as it determined the selection process and resettlement of the “Lucky 1,000” and their families who did eventually make their way to the United States on immigrant visas.

TUSRP Application and Application Process Included in materials about the TUSRP archived at the Department of Home of the CTA is a two-page document titled “A Special Opportunity for Tibetans to Resettle in the United States” (Central Tibetan Administration n.d.). One informant who worked on the TUSRP speculated that this document was probably an announcement to be published to let Tibetans throughout India

The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project 111

and Nepal know about the project. I never came across a document clearly identifiable as a published announcement. However, this document clearly outlines the application process. Under the subheading “Why Come to the United States?” the document states: It is important for Tibetan visa candidates to realize that they would be coming to the United States at a time when there is tough competition for jobs and housing. However, Tibetans living in Western countries have shown over the years a remarkable ability to work hard and make the best of available opportunities. They have not only become self-supporting, but they have also contributed significantly to improve the conditions of the Tibetan settlements of India and Nepal. 1,000 Tibetans in America can become 1,000 ambassadors for the Tibetan cause. With special opportunities for social, economic and political advancement, Tibetans in America can play an important role in developing Tibetan culture for the modern world. They can learn new skills, make new friends and establish contacts, and make better known the values and aspirations of the Tibetan people. And in the process, Tibetans living in America will bring the unique spirit of their ancient Buddhist faith to a pluralistic American society.

The document then explains that the CTA has been designated by the U.S. government to do the advance screening and processing of the applicants. This document clearly lays out several discursive elements associated with the TUSRP from the very beginning: first, that Tibetans can be ambassadors for the Tibetan cause, clearly highlighting the political motivation for such a project; second, the ability of Tibetans in the West to help improve the conditions of the settlements in India and Nepal; third, the idea that Tibetans in the United States can contribute to Tibetan culture through contact with the West; and fourth, that Americans have much to learn from Tibetan Buddhist culture. All of these elements suffuse any discussion of the TUSRP on the part of members of the CTA, as well as the many Tibetans with whom I discussed U.S. resettlement during my fieldwork, both in India and the United States. An article titled “Application Open for U.S. Resettlement Project” in the July–August 1991 edition of the Tibetan Bulletin, a publication of the CTA, described the program and the application process. Following the provisions in the legislation, the article laid out both the percentages of people from India and Nepal and the categories that fall under the primary division of places to be distributed for those “most likely to be successfully resettled” and for those


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

who “are not firmly resettled” in either India or Nepal. As such, the article explained that because 90 percent of the total exile population resided in India and 10 percent in Nepal, the positions would be allocated according to those percentages. The article informed prospective applicants that they should “choose one application category for which he/she is best qualified” (1991a: 29). In the Tibetan Bulletin and in a report on a survey that the Tibetan Community Assistance Project conducted on the 1,000 immigrants, the categories are outlined as follows: 1a Individuals who have not received any rehabilitation assistance since they sought asylum in India and who remain impoverished. To qualify for these positions an individual, including his or her parents or spouses, could not have received housing or some means of livelihood either in the form of agricultural land or handicraft employment. (200 people) 1b Impoverished individuals living in Tibetan settlements. In order to be eligible for this category individuals had to be listed by the settlement and welfare officers as poor in a survey conducted by the CTA’s Department of Home on January 25, 1989. This survey covered all the settlements, handicraft centers and camps in India and provided details of the poorest of the poor families in these facilities. (100 people) 1c Recent arrivals from Tibet. Those who have arrived from Tibet between December 25, 1979 and November 29, 1990 qualified for these positions. At least 30 of these slots were reserved for recent arrivals who have shown particular commitment to the Tibetan cause inside Tibet. (100 people) 2a Individuals with education and skills such as English language, professional or technical abilities, or business expertise. To be eligible candidates needed to be secondary school graduates or to have had specialized work experience in a particular field for eight or more years. Excellence in the applicant’s particular field was stressed. Preference in this category was given to those who did not receive any rehabilitation assistance. Applicants supplied relevant documentation such as academic degrees. (175 people) 2bi Record of Central Tibetan Administration service. To be eligible people had to have at least 10 years of service. The staff had to be currently

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serving and were entitled to nominate one qualified immediate family member (sibling or child) if the staff member chose voluntarily to remain in his/her CTA post. (100 people) 2bii Record of service for community development. This category was created for those who had served the Tibetan community for a minimum period of eight continuous years in fields such as education, health, social welfare, or the preservation and promotion of Tibetan culture and philosophy. (150 people) 3 Relatives of Tibetan U.S. citizens (75 people) Interested individuals in Nepal were able to apply under any of the above categories—total visas allotted for Nepal were 100 (Tibetan Bulletin 1991a; Nassar and Taklha 1995: 8–9). These categories tally with information from the CTA Home Department files. Basic requirements for each applicant included the following criteria: 1

Bona Fide Tibetan Refugee—holding valid Indian/Nepali residential permit (photocopy of permit attested by settlement/welfare officer to be submitted with application to Dharamsala). 2 Green Book—certifying that the individual is a genuine exile in the Tibetan community (updated photocopy validated by the settlement/ welfare officer to be submitted with application to Dharamsala). 3 Age: Between 18 and 45 years old (born in or after 1946 or in or before 1973). 4 No other citizenship or passport. 5 Medical fitness certificate (no active T.B.). 6 Continuous residence in India or Nepal since before November 29, 1990. (Central Tibetan Administration, Council for Home Affairs n.d.: 1)

Initial Reactions to the TUSRP: Mobilizing Discourse An article in the November 1991 issue of the Tibetan Review by Nawang Phuntsog Sipur, one of the 500 Tibetans residing in the United States prior to the establishment of the TUSRP, describes the program as follows: “Shrouded initially in a cloud of mystery and uncertainty, there is not much information available to the public on several important issues concerning the purpose, mission and process of resettlement” (Sipur 1991: 13). He further argues that the details of the application and selection process were published in “a language that few can understand. As simplicity and clarity of a language


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

enhances its ability to reach out [to] more people, it is hoped that future pronouncements in Tibetan language would be less jargonistic and more functional” (13). Significantly, the first major point Sipur makes in his article is to question the “cultural preservationist” rationale: “One of the driving forces of the project is the preservation of Tibetan culture which the project organizers seem to think may soon be a category in the checklist of near-extinct human civilizations. The cultural preservation itself is not the bone of contention but the way it is linked to the project without placing it within the cultural pluralistic nature of the U.S. is ideologically impoverished” (Sipur 1991: 13). What Sipur seems to be saying is that first, the organizers are relying on a notion that Tibetan culture is near extinction and that this is overblown. Second, he asserts that the organizers must understand the pluralistic nature of U.S. society in order to ensure that Tibetan culture flourishes there. His position as a U.S. resident makes him hopeful that Tibetans as individuals, and collectively as a “culture,” can affect U.S. society positively. His stance is indicative of many Westerners who advocate for Tibetans and a free Tibet: Careful thinking and planning can turn this project into a unique experiment in Tibetan culture. It could be a centre that will capitalize on skills and knowledge that Tibetans have for generating resources to preserve, promote and share their cultural heritage. One’s imagination can further be stretched by thinking of the project in terms of a global village where an active Tibetan culture provides a conducive environment that seeks to promote universal responsibility for making this planet even more peaceful and beautiful for all sentient beings. (Sipur 1991: 14)

In using the phrase “universal responsibility” to invoke the idea that Tibetan culture can contribute to a more peaceful world, Sipur is echoing a phrase often used by the Dalai Lama as he speaks to Western audiences. For example, the Dalai Lama’s speech given to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations Conference for Human Rights in Vienna on June 15, 1993, was titled “Human Rights and Universal Responsibility.” Thus, even in the early stages of the TUSRP, a highly idealized discourse justifies the project not just in terms of improving the lives of individual Tibetans, but one that will actually revitalize Tibetan culture and furthermore, allow Tibetan culture to contribute to the world. This discourse contributes to the “cosmopolitan” orientation of Tibetan youth in the United States that I will discuss in Chapter 8. Here, we

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again see the Dalai Lama as the principal architect of Tibetan exile discourse. It is also important to attend to the notions of agency that underlie the discursive framework for the TUSRP outlined above. Just as theorizing about immigration increasingly reflects concern with the agency of immigrants; diaspora theorizing reflects these concerns as well. As discussed in the Introduction, Cohen (1997) reconsiders the archetypal notion of a diaspora as strictly a victim diaspora. He reinterprets and decenters diaspora theorizing by questioning normative conceptions of diaspora and showing that there are many forces, including voluntarist ones, that contribute to the scattering of a people. I draw attention to this point to begin a discussion of the necessarily multiple motivations Tibetans have in wanting (or conversely, not wanting) to migrate to the West. Yet, at the same time, the Sipur quote above is evidence of the knitting together of a larger discursive frame that draws pieces from other discourses that have come out of the Tibet movement—including interdependence, universal responsibility, and particularly the slippage between “culture” and “nation” examined in Chapter 3, all of which have been mobilized in every stage of the TUSRP.

Selection Process For each of the categories established for the TUSRP (see above) there were more applicants than slots. Tables 5.1 and 5.2 list the number of applicants, those who qualified and those who were disqualified, the finalists, and the number who were put on a waiting list for each category (as far as I was able to determine using the documents available at the Department of Home of the CTA as well as the Tibetan Bulletin, which also published figures). Because there were more applicants than slots, a lottery was instituted to select finalists for each of the categories. There were complaints in the Tibetan Review, and from Tibetans I spoke with in India, that the rules had been changed in midstream to accommodate certain types of people (particularly government employees) or, judging from the numbers of high-level government employees who immigrated to the United States, that the selection process was unfair (Tibetan Review 1992; Dharlo 1994: 15). Government employees were specifically included as a category from the beginning. Initially, they could nominate one qualified family member (sibling or child) to apply. It seems that this rule was expanded to allow for the nomination of spouses. However, the large number of government staff included among the finalists is probably explained by the structure of the categories themselves.


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

Table 5.1 Numbers of TUSRP Applicants According to CTA Files Category Description 1a 1b 1c 2a 2bi 2bii 3 Total

Haven’t received assistance Impoverished in settlements Recent arrivals Applicants with skills Central Tibetan Administration Contributions in community development Relatives of U.S. citizens

Applicants Disqualified Qualified Finalists Wait List 566 225 610 755

246 130 35 232

320 95 575 523

200 100 100 175

76 50 50 ?






297 162 2,754

62 11 716

235 ? 1,748

150 75 900

50 ? 246

Source: Data from CTA files.

Since 425 of the visas went to applicants who were “highly skilled,” had records of community service, or were relatives or spouses of CTA staff, it is likely that a majority of those who worked for the CTA met these application criteria and constituted a high percentage of applicants who were likely to be successfully resettled. Government staff who were selected were given the option of going to the United States or having spouses go, to ensure that they would be able to serve the government a bit longer, until family reunification was accomplished. Another complaint was that although only one person from each family was to eligible to apply for the TUSRP, a few people did not obey this rule and when more than one family member was selected, they were still allowed to immigrate as “anchor relatives,” thus preventing more families from resettling in the United States (Tibetan Review 1992; Dharlo 1994: 15). Information acquired from different sources, notably published or collected at different times, give differing accounts of the numbers of people that applied for the 1,000 visas (compare Tables 5.1 and 5.2). My perusal of the files in the Department of Home, where there were (incomplete) files for each category with the numbers of applicants, those disqualified, finalists, and those on the waiting lists, led me to conclude that there were approximately 2,754 applicants, a total that was narrowed to 1,748 qualified applicants (not including all of those who applied from Nepal). However, articles published in the Tibetan Bulletin put the total at 4,600 (although the categories listed in the article do not seem to add up to this total: see Table 5.2, where the total is given as 3,700) (Tibetan Bulletin 1991b: 33). All of the categories had more applicants than available visas, but two categories are worthy of mention. According to the Tibetan Bulletin, category 1c

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Table 5.2 Numbers of TUSRP Applicants According to the Tibetan Bulletin Category


1a 1b 1c 2a 2bi 2bii

Haven’t received assistance Impoverished in settlements Recent arrivals Applicants with skills Central Tibetan Administration Contributions in community development Relatives of U.S. citizens

3 Total




794 398 744 1,145 139 388 162 3,770

Finalists 200 100 100 175 100


94 N/A

150 75 900

Source: Data from the Tibetan Bulletin, November–December 1991.

(Recent Arrivals) had 744 applicants for 100 spaces. Category 2a (Individuals with Education and Skills) had 1,145 applicants for 175 spaces. Also, according to the Department of Home files, the Recent Arrival category had the fewest number of disqualified applicants, making this category the one with the steepest competition. However, it was pointed out to me by one of the TUSRP organizers that the required documents for recent arrivals were fewer in number and easier to obtain than those in the other categories, thus accounting for the low rate of disqualification in these groups. Still, the fact that only 100 slots were reserved for newcomers can be cited as evidence that newcomers do not generally receive benefits on equal footing with more established exiles. However, it could be countered that the allotment of 100 slots out of 1,000 reflects the percentage of newcomers in India and Nepal. Nancy P. Lindberg worked for the TUSRP on the project in India. In an interview conducted in 2002, she addressed the process of choosing the 1,000 immigrants and concerns over fairness: There are historic reasons for [the concern about fairness]. But I do think all in all, there was great caution and great care to be as fair as possible in the eyes of the people. The process was not without fault, but I don’t think it was . . . a stained process, an illegitimate process, to the best of their ability they tried really hard. I guess not thinking through the process through to the very end, how are we going to, when we have the 6,000 how would we get to the end with 1,000 applicants? We had these amazing lists. We had some excellent assistance, we had a range of pressures, we would just go through them one by one. Every application had three sets of eyes, somebody would log it, somebody would pick the


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

category, and tag it. I would look at it and see if they met the criteria of the category (but I wasn’t the only one doing that, there were two assistants and myself), made up these rosters on the typewriter, on poster paper, with this huge typewriter, and get these rosters ready for the selection committee and then give them only people selected. We did give them everything sorted into categories, we made sense of it, and clearly identified people. The selection committee was very thorough and if they didn’t fit their category and didn’t qualify and meet their back up, or didn’t have a Green book [then they were disqualified]. . . . Then we went through the lists and sorted them.

One interviewee who worked for the Department of Home noted that although there were almost 5,000 applicants only 3,000 or so qualified. For each group, with the exception of the U.S. Relative category, the CTA held a lottery to determine the finalists. Each individual was assigned a number, and the number was placed in a ballot box. The selection committee asked members of the public if they would like to come and select the numbers. The numbers were pulled out of the ballot box and then members of the selection committee and my informant verified that they all had the name of the same person, and the name was called out. New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) In the United States, the TUSRP, with Ed Bednar as executive director, hired Tenzin Taklha as the project coordinator. Taklha, a nephew of the current Dalai Lama, was raised both in the United States and in India and thus had a good understanding of the realities of Tibetan communities in India and of what it would take logistically to get people resettled in a variety of U.S. settings. Eventually the TUSRP became a subsidiary project of the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) in New York City. NYANA was founded to assist survivors of the Holocaust. According to a TUSRP publication, “NYANA is now the largest refugee resettlement organization in the United States, having assisted nearly 400,000 refugees from 40 different countries since 1949. NYANA has extensive experience with Indo-Chinese immigrants” (Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project n.d.: back cover). Edward Bednar (1992) explained the rationale behind the “cluster site” structure as a way to ensure cultural preservation: “Clustering” refers to a process of “resettling members of the same ethnic group in close proximity to each other, uniting friends and family whenever possible.”

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. . . By doing sponsorships in clusters of 50 or more, we are building up at local sites sufficient geographic concentration for maintaining social cohesiveness, Tibetan ethnic identity, and easy access to centrally located resettlement services. Instead of scattering 1,000 Tibetans in random patterns of migration, the goal is thus to create a national network of small Tibetan communities, building up over time the educational economic and technical resources needed for developing Tibetan culture in contemporary American society. (33)

In a March 2000 interview, Tenzin Taklha clarified the process of establishing cluster sites and assigning individual Tibetans to those sites before arrival: Now, once they were selected, our role in the United States, first of all what we wanted to do . . . our greatest concern was that they would lose their culture. So in order for them not to lose their culture and their identity, the whole idea was to have cluster sites. And at first, we were thinking of having 20 cluster sites of 50 people each. Of course, it didn’t work out [exactly] that way . . . one thing that we had to guarantee to the U.S. government was that when they came in they would each have a sponsor who would be willing to provide them board and lodging for the initial few months. And then we also, which is something unique . . . we also had to guarantee them a job. A guaranteed job. So our job in the United States was to coordinate with all these cluster sites. . . . A lot of the work was done by the cluster sites themselves, because they had to go out and find sponsors, you know people who would be willing to do all this type of stuff.

Taklha explained that potential cluster sites would send in an application form that outlined potential sponsors, job offers, and information about the city or town. At the same time that the cluster sites continued to be established, Taklha began assigning the selected 1,000 Tibetans to specific cluster sites: So what we tried to do was we tried to balance each cluster site with each type of people. So we would have some people who we thought could be good community leaders in each site, and then we also had people . . . who were uneducated and impoverished . . . and then young students, things like that. . . . It was sort of a balancing act for each cluster site. And eventually, things worked out.

Eventually twenty-one cluster sites were established across the United States (see Table 5.3). After the initial settlement, some sites lost large numbers of people to sites where there was more plentiful employment, most notably Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota, which attracted substantial secondary migration from other cluster sites (Nassar and Taklha 1995).


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

Table 5.3 TUSRP Resettlement Sites as of 1993 Place Name 1. Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico 2. Amherst, Massachusetts 3. Austin, Texas 4. Boise, Idaho 5. Boston, Massachusetts 6. Boulder, Colorado 7. Burlington, Vermont 8. Charlottesville, Virginia 9. Chicago, Illinois 10. Darien, Connecticut 11. Ithaca, New York 12. Los Angeles, California 13. Madison, Wisconsin 14. Minneapolis–St. Paul (Twin Cities), Minnesota 15. Missoula, Montana 16. New York, New York 17. Portland, Oregon 18. Salt Lake City, Utah 19. San Francisco, California 20. Seattle, Washington 21. St. Louis, Missouri Total

Initial Number of Tibetans 50 46 20 20 50 25 25 20 100 21 11 10 75 150 20 70 35 61 50 25 25 909

Sources: Data from the Central Tibetan Administration, Home Department Files and the TUSRP.

Orientation A four-day orientation was developed for the 1,000 Tibetans who were selected as part of the TUSRP. Those selected gathered by departure groups in Dharamsala before they left for the United States. The orientation was developed by Nancy Lindberg, who had done doctoral research in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz on “independence” as a metaphor for Tibetans, and another woman named Judy whom I was not able to identify. The orientation materials were written in English, but translation was provided during the sessions. The orientation materials include lecture notes and a script for the orientation sessions. The “Goal” of the introductory lecture reads, “To prepare participants to act as ambassadors of Tibet.” The “Emphasis” states, “To develop a strong feeling of cultural identity for the preservation of Tibetan culture” (Orientation materials: 6). On the same page the facilitator defines culture: “Culture is the way a group of people live. It includes everything

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regarding how they live; what’s important to them, the way they behave, the way they communicate, the way they think, the way they speak, and everything else the group has developed to assure their survival as a unique civilization.” This definition was then written on the board for everyone to see. In this way, the orientation served to define a number of terms relating to culture and identity explicitly, followed by specific exercises to help the soon-to-be immigrants think about these terms and ideas in relation to themselves as individuals and collectively as “Tibetans.” One lecture specifically addressed “identity”: “I Am Tibetan” Exercise: Think about the question, “What does it mean when you say I am Tibetan?” Take a few minutes to think about that. Before we discuss this, let’s define a few words. Identity: your identity is how you define who you are, the roles that determine how you see yourself. For example, mother/father, sister/brother, carpet weaver, monk. Value: a value is something of great importance to you. Belief: a belief is what you assume to be true. Behavior: a behavior is something you do. Now, how would you define who you are? . . . You’d probably say I am Tibetan. But what does that mean? Here a few of the answers that have been given to that question: —being a Tibetan Buddhist: knowing your duties towards your motherland and loving your country; having parents who are Tibetan; always doing what my parents ask me to; having grown up under the guidance of H.H. the Dalai Lama; preserving my culture’s customs and traditions. (Orientation materials: 10)

Such exercises led participants to conceptualize the meaning of terms common to the exile discursive framework outlined in Chapter 3 and to U.S. popular culture as well. After the participants were introduced to terms such as “culture,” “identity,” “values,” and “behavior” in relation to their own values and beliefs, they were encouraged to apply them to understand and to demystify U.S. culture in order to help them adapt once they arrived in the United States. What is interesting here is the explicit teaching and reaffirmation of these concepts to ensure that Tibetans understand what is meant by “cultural preservation” as they immigrate to the United States and their introduction as a tool to ease resettlement in a country of foreign values, beliefs, and norms. It is also not surprising that the ambassadorial mandate was a key theme of the orientation.


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

What Does It Mean to Be Tibetan? The TUSRP as a Catalyst for Discussion After combining various elements of my methodology—including interviews with Tibetans in New Mexico, interviews with Tibetans in Dharamsala and Bylakuppe, an examination of the handbook New Horizons that was distributed to all members of the TUSRP before their departure to the United States, Tibetan Review articles that refer to the TUSRP, and responses to a survey I conducted in Dharamsala in 20005—I identified three main areas of concern Tibetans (and sometimes Westerners) expressed about the project: (1) The political effects of the project (the positive ramifications of increased numbers of Tibetan “ambassadors” in the West, or conversely the negative impact increased migration to the West might have on the Tibet movement), (2) The economic impacts of increased migration, and (3) The impacts on cultural identity for exile Tibetans. The remainder of the chapter will examine these concerns. The Effect of the TUSRP on the Tibet Movement Tibetans migrating to the United States were specifically exhorted to be ambassadors for their lost homeland. The handbook titled New Horizons that was distributed to all of the participants in the TUSRP specifically states: “As Tibetan Ambassadors you are, 1.) To raise the voice of Tibetan freedom and independence. 2.) To be a force to make the [world] aware of what is happening to the Tibetan people in TIBET. 3.) To develop communities in the United State[s] of America that are authentic expression[s] of Tibetan Culture.” (Central Tibetan Administration 1992: back cover; emphasis in original) This mandate was specifically communicated to Tibetans in this and in other forms, including the announcement for the program, orientation materials, and also, according to informants, in an audience with the Dalai Lama. Research done in New Mexico in conjunction with this project has shown that Tibetans are acutely aware of their role as “ambassadors.” Many of them have mentioned the potential impact on the Tibet movement as a benefit of their presence in the United States. They recount personal instances where new friends, neighbors, and people at their workplaces knew nothing about the situation in Tibet before their arrival and their role in telling people about their homeland. A Tibetan Review article reported on a U.S. conference of cluster site coordinators and other concerned Tibetans and Americans in New York City, held October 3–4, 1993. “Doubts were . . . raised at the conference about how interested

The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project 123

many immigrants really were in promoting the cause of Tibet or preserving their religious traditions. One cluster site representative frankly pointed out that some of the Tibetans’ seeming preoccupation with money and disinterest in promoting the cause of Tibet is bad for public relations” (Tibetan Review 1993: 8). The same article, however, quotes Lodi Gyari, then president of the Washington, D.C.–based International Campaign for Tibet, as saying, “over the last couple of years, there has been at least 60% increase in the number of supporters for Tibet in the United States. This is because of the number of new Americans who became involved in the cause of Tibet because of their involvement with the immigration project” (1993: 8–9). Research conducted in the New Mexico cluster site also leads me to suggest that some American Tibet supporters may have expectations that every Tibetan in the United States be active in the Tibet movement. For example, I interviewed one European-American volunteer for the Tibetan Resettlement Project in New Mexico who expressed her frustration with what she felt was an extremely urgent situation in Tibet and the inadequate or perhaps uneven response of the recently arrived Tibetans in New Mexico. In other words, Tibetans in the United States seem to receive pressure over their role as Tibet ambassadors, not only from the CTA but also from American Tibet supporters who expect every Tibetan to be an activist in the midst of everyday problems faced by all recently arrived immigrants: finding decent employment, housing, learning English, and adjusting to a new way of life. Among people I interviewed in India about increased migration to the United States, there were mixed responses about whether once people migrate to the United States they can contribute more, or at all, to the Tibetan cause. Many people expressed the opinion that Tibetans who migrate to the West become more concerned about money than working for Tibet. One survey respondent wrote, “since the dollar value is high everyone is so busy that they will have not time to think about their country. To sum up, in Tibet the Chinese are destroying our language and culture but in exile the dollar is destroying our language and culture.”6 Yet, at the same time there seems to be a prevailing sentiment that Tibet has gotten more attention, and—although it is hard to quantify the degree of influence of the TUSRP—that the increased number of Tibetans in a variety of small U.S. towns and cities is definitely making an impact. In addition, many in Dharamsala expressed optimism that the increased emphasis on economic achievement in the United States could be fruitfully wed with the Tibet movement. Many people mentioned the potential for increased donations to benefit NGOs such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, the Tibetan


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

Women’s Association, and Western-based NGOs that support the Tibet movement. Also, Tibetans in the United States would raise revenue for the CTA from the voluntary “taxes” that Tibetans pay each year (in the year 2000, Tibetans in the United States paid approximately $80 a year and Tibetans in India, Nepal, and Bhutan paid approximately Rs80 [$1.77] a year). Other Tibetans saw the increased economic power of Tibetans worldwide as essential to ensuring Tibet’s future independence and the establishment of a future polity in line with exile Tibetans’ democratic aspirations. A surprising number of informants made explicit reference to the Jewish diaspora and support for the state of Israel and suggested that Tibetans should emulate this model.7 A larger political issue raised by the TUSRP is the tension between two competing ideals contained within the project. On the one hand, Tibetans in the United States are to be ambassadors for Tibet, while on the other hand they are expected to settle permanently in their new home (Central Tibetan Administration 1992). One contributor to the Tibetan Review wrote that he thought the TUSRP was sending a message that the goal of the government-in-exile has changed from regaining Tibetan independence: “There is a sinking feeling that we dare not express: the feeling that we are giving up hope on regaining our freedom and now the goal seems to be to settle our people wherever we can as ‘model citizens of the world’ ” (Dorjee 1992: 11–14). Another prominent Dharamsala intellectual expressed his discontent with the TUSRP, saying that especially after the Dalai Lama’s Middle-Way announcement (referring to the 1988 Strasbourg Proposal, in which the Dalai Lama renounced the goal of independence for Tibet, seeking instead “genuine autonomy” under the Chinese state), the TUSRP sends the message that since there is no hope for independence, Tibetans might as well go to other countries. The concern that it would send a message to Tibetans living under the Chinese that the exile community had given up hope of ever achieving its political aims was also expressed. Other respondents, particularly those working for the CTA, dismissed this notion, expressly stating that because information about the exile community gets back to Tibetans living in Tibet, the TUSRP sends a hopeful message that exiles are increasingly spreading the message about what is happening in Tibet. For many, however, the TUSRP was just another distraction from what should be the focus of Tibetan exiles—the extremely dire situation for those who are advocating for Tibetan issues within Tibet. Lobsang Gyatso’s cartoon, “Tibetan Rearview” (Figure 5.1), depicts this view. There is no doubt that Tibetans in Tibet are aware of events in the diaspora. I had an Australian friend who volunteered at the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), an NGO that monitors the human rights

The Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project 125

Figure 5.1 “Tibetan Rearview,” Tibetan Review, May 1993, by Lobsang Gyatso.

Source: Tibetan Review.

situation in Tibet. One of the ways in which TCHRD gains information about what is happening in Tibet is to interview recently arrived refugees from Tibet (see, for example, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy 2000). My friend told me that one reason several new arrivals had cited for leaving Tibet was that they heard people were getting green cards to go to the United States. Another informant, a CTA staff member, referring to the same rumor said, “They didn’t want to come here to India, they just wanted to come to America.” One way to see the opposing ideas on this issue is as evidence of changing understandings about the connective matrix of societies in a world increasingly crosscut by transnational connections. Several of the commentaries in the Tibetan Review, as well as individuals I interviewed, mentioned the geographic proximity of India to Tibet as an important element in the preservation of Tibetan culture in exile, in addition to being of geopolitical importance. However, this seems to be an older idea that was frequently countered by younger Tibetans and intellectuals who cited the increasing “interconnectedness of the world,” echoing the Dalai Lama’s talk of “interdependence” discussed in Chapter 3. There is also a political dimension to the strongly held opinion that Tibetans should remain in India: Tibetans’ refugee or “stateless” status in India serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle to gain freedom for Tibet.8 The question that arises, then, is whether an increasingly transnational perspective on society and


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

culture is emerging and impinging itself on the Tibetan diaspora. In other words, is geographical proximity and statelessness perceived as less important in an age of increased international travel, the rise of the Internet, and burgeoning global economies? I will address this question in more detail below as I discuss concerns Tibetans have about the effect of the TUSRP on economics and the loss of cultural identity. Economic Impact of the TUSRP A commonly cited concern about the effect of transnational migration on the country of departure was “brain drain.” Many Tibetans expressed a fear that all the most educated, “able” Tibetans would go to the United States. Ed Bednar stated that this objection was raised by members of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies as one of the objections to the project when the possibility of its implementation was raised. Many respondents remembered their initial concern at the vacuum left by the great numbers of teachers and government employees leaving all at once. Survey respondents cited “brain drain” as one of the primary problems associated with increased migration. Others asserted that one of the most critical problems facing the exile community was the idleness of young people who, although they have college degrees, cannot find employment. The survey I conducted to ascertain views of increased migration to the West, particularly among government employees, provided more detailed information about these concerns. Twenty-one out of a total of 211 people surveyed suggested that “brain drain” was a concern for government due to increased migration. Interestingly, only eight of these people worked for the CTA. Many of these respondents classified themselves as students, although several did work for NGOs and so do probably have firsthand knowledge and experience of the effect of migration on the functioning of the administration. Furthermore, twenty-two people suggested that there was an immediate human resource shortage caused by increased numbers of people going to the West. One twenty-four-year-old male born in India, who had a bachelor of communications degree, stated the following: It’s become like a fashion to go abroad. If some Tibetans (like common people) leave India to go to Western countries there’s no problem at all. If some important dignitaries like teachers, staff etc. leaves then it creates lots of problems because if one teacher leaves to abroad every year, nearly 200 students will suffer. As a individual there’s no problem at all but if we think about the student it’s a big loss to the community itself. To replace [with] new inexperienced [staff] is very difficult. . . . Like this we have got many problems in the community.

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However, several noted that this was a short-term inconvenience and not likely to present a major problem in the long run. A thirty-three-year-old male who worked for the exile government wrote, “For the past few years . . . many Tibetan administrative resource men/women had gone to U.S.A. under many schemes and that definitely had a severe effect to Tibetan Government. But now most of us are get used to it and have many remedies to cure this kind of problem.” This view was also reflected in interviews. Many also said that it was good to bring “young blood” into the CTA. Because of the large numbers of Tibetans in the United States willing to sponsor their relatives, more Tibetans will have opportunities to go to the United States, not necessarily on immigrant visas but as visitors on tourist visas which they may attempt to convert to other kinds of statuses that will allow for an extended stay. There may be, then, renewed concerns among Tibetans in India in general, and CTA staff in particular, about bright and able Tibetans leaving the settlements to go to the United States and other Western countries. According to informants, the Dalai Lama has made statements telling prospective migrants that while it is a good idea to go abroad to better one’s education, once the educational goal has been achieved it is important that they return to India to serve their community. However, in the year 2000, no CTA official admitted any concern at the official level over the numbers of people who are leaving to go to the West. Remittances sent to India from Tibetans living in the United States are having a tremendous impact on Tibetans still residing there. Gathering quantitative data on this aspect of immigration was beyond the scope of this research, but settlement officers, high government officials, and many other people I spoke with agreed that remittances were having a large effect on Tibetan settlements in India. Research done by scholars of immigration has shown that remittances come to form a very important part of the immigrant-sending country’s economy (Helweg and Helweg 1991; Kearney 1996). Many informants noted the benefits the TUSRP has already provided to individual Tibetans in India, and to the settlements in general. Settlement officers in Bylakuppe noted that the vast majority of those who had migrated to the United States as part of the resettlement project were helping family and other individuals in the settlements through remittances. One survey respondent wrote in response to the question about the benefits of increased migration, I knew the few families who immigrated to U.S.A. from our town. They do helps to our community through financial assistance to those students who cannot afford for their further studies. And also helps medical expenses for


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

those old people who has no one to look after them. I appreciate those people who help the needy and of course to other people. I do pray that they have a happy and long life.

In Bylakuppe, I met one small business owner whose capitalization was made possible by the migration of his brother to the United States. However, another café owner in Dharamsala noted that although many people thought she must benefit from her family being in the United States, the expenses of their family in New York were so great that they were unable to send money to her for the business. It is probable, however, that remittances will increase over time as Tibetans in the United States improve their economic situation and are able to support family members economically in India. A newcomer refugee told me that often when their fellow newcomers migrate to the West they send remittances to friends to allow them to pursue their education in exile. “They [migrants to the West] send support [to newcomers], they help (economically) to people from their same region or to friends. Here, there exists people who depend on their support in order to study.” Because they often do not have family in exile, newcomers are using their earning power to help their friends and people from their home regions who become a type of “fictive kin” in exile. One informal interview in particular highlighted the potential negative impacts of the TUSRP on the Tibetan resettlements in India. The informant told me that in her original camp in southern India there are about thirty-two families, and four of the families have members who migrated to the United States. She then visited the settlement after an absence of five years, and described stark changes compared to when she lived there previously. She said that before, although there were some people who had more money than others, everyone helped each other. There was not a lot of “competition.” But now these four families were becoming separate from the others; there were increasing divisions. She said they were becoming very proud, their children “spoiled.” She said, for example, that the children now had bicycles and they rode around the settlement on them after school. Now all the children wanted bicycles and even though the other families did not have the means, they sometimes borrowed money to buy their children things because of the pressure caused by unequal material acquisition and the desires of their children. One wife of a government official (who had previously responded that he did not think migration to the United States was increasing economic disparity and causing divisions in exile society) told me that tension was occurring in

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her own family, as some of the children were benefiting disproportionately from the migration of one family member. Her children would pester her for money for clothes and other items that she could not afford on her and her husband’s CTA salaries. She expressed the wish to go to the United States for a few years in order to make enough money to sponsor her children’s higher education in India (which although much less expensive than a college education in the United States, was beyond her family’s reach). While this woman was not necessarily interested in permanent resettlement, she was concerned with improving her children’s future in India. This woman had made inquiries with relatives in the United States in an attempt to garner sponsorship for a visa. Effect of the TUSRP on Cultural Identity An examination of the TUSRP and responses to it highlights current processes of identity construction among Tibetan exiles. In interviews, survey responses, and commentaries in the Tibetan Review, one can see that the project was a major source of anxiety about the fate of Tibetan identity as increasing numbers of Tibetans were “scattered like beans around the world.” Tibetans’ responses to these fears also reveal that static definitions of culture are being jettisoned for newer, more elastic ideas that culture must change and constantly incorporate new ideas. The first view, that Tibetan identity will be irreparably harmed by increasing numbers of Tibetans in the West, relies on a biological notion of ethnicity and the notion that isolated communities in geographical proximity to the country of origin are necessary: History is witness that a society flounders and loses its identity when it tries to reach out too far beyond the horizon of its own cultural and biological line of development. And this is exactly what is happening to our people. We are being scattered like beans around the world, with the rhetoric of not only preserving our culture but being “ambassadors for Tibet.” Will we have the chance to be authentic expressions of what lies deepest in ourselves as Tibetans or will we be totally assimilated as Americans, Germans, Indians, Nepalese—with Tibetan faces? (Dorjee 1992: 13)

Many Tibetans in India told me that they wished that the TUSRP had been planned more thoughtfully so that Tibetans would not be so scattered. Several people said that if they all went to one place in the United States that would be one thing, but that dispersing them across the country will ultimately be detrimental to the goal of cultural preservation. As outlined above, the TUSRP was carefully planned with the idea of the “cluster site” as the structural organizing


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principle of the project. During one conversation I had with two friends, one shared this same lament, saying that it was a shame Tibetans were scattered across the United States. His friend countered that by the same token Tibetans were also scattered all across India. Another respondent wryly observed that Tibet is very sparsely populated over a large geographic expanse and that people never had a problem keeping their Tibetan cultural identity intact there. Counterarguments to the inevitability of cultural disintegration have been offered by almost all those I have interviewed in the United States and in several of the publications I have read. One idea is that although integration into U.S. society is inevitable, it is possible to “take the best of both worlds” consciously, or as one Santa Fe Tibetan said: “Still we can have Tibetan spirit, Tibetan attitude and everything. So we can maintain all the goodness of both communities, [they] can be added and maintained.” A prominent educator in Dharamsala echoed this idea when I asked what he thought Tibetans in the United States should do in terms of educating their children. He replied that one viable option was sending their children to the Tibetan Children’s Village in India. In this way they would be sure to receive an adequate Tibetan education, but at the same time receive the economic benefits and exposure to American culture as well. He said that this solution offered “the best of both worlds.” Another important idea is that “culture” is more than a catalogue of material traits and practices. In a letter to the editor in the Tibetan Review, Wangchuk wrote: “It is time to look at our identity problem from a new angle. Is the Tibetan identity only thought to be the way we dressed, lived, thought and prayed for centuries before 1959? Or should it be elastic enough to cope with the passage of time and changing circumstances?” (Wangchuk 1992: 26). Many Tibetans in the United States and in India have echoed this view, articulating a nationalist approach to cultural identity (see Chapter 3 on the slippage between “culture” and “nation”). For instance, Wangchuk goes on to say, “Under our present situation we should . . . recognize the basic element of our identity to be an unwavering love and loyalty toward our fatherland, a sense of mission to get it back and never to lose it again but build it up to the height of all other nations” (26). This statement, as well as similar statements made by others, has led me to theorize that for Tibetan exiles (those who grew up or were educated primarily in India), Tibetan identity has come to take on a highly nationalistic meaning, in addition to and somewhat in opposition to the “cultural preservation” approach that insists on language retention, specific modes of dress, and the performance of a variety of practices that have been deemed “traditional” or

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“authentic.” Moreover, in diaspora this attachment to nation is necessarily deterritorialized: Tibetans in India have learned an attachment and loyalty to their nation without ever having set foot in Tibet.

Conclusion This chapter illuminates the range of Tibetan concerns and enthusiasms that accompanied the establishment of the TUSRP, as well as increased migration to the West generally. Clearly, from the inception of the TUSRP in India we can trace rhetorical elements that have shaped and continue to be present in Tibetan (and Tibet supporters’) ideas about the TUSRP. The three that I have outlined in this chapter—politics, economics, and cultural preservation—are the primary concerns that shape exilic discourse about the increasing numbers of Tibetans who are migrating to the West, not only the United States, but other countries as well. Other concerns, such as the fairness of the selection process, can be understood in light of the slow democratization of Tibetan exile society, inasmuch as continuing concerns about nepotism and equity made Tibetans wary about its fairness. Still, the primary concerns with culture, politics, and economics not only show us the issues that Tibetans cite most frequently, but in addition they serve as a framework that highlights the nature of exile subjectivities (or how Tibetans conceptualize their Tibetanness) and gives us a window onto how this might change as Tibetans resettle, find jobs and learn English, are educated in U.S. schools, and have children who will grow up to be both Tibetan and American.


Tibetans in India: Deterritorialized Culture, Occidental Longing, and Global Imaginaries

Introduction ON APRIL 1, 2000, several months into my fieldwork in Dharamsala, the Tibetan government-in-exile announced that the Government of India had changed its policy for Tibetans applying for an Identification Certificate. An Identification Certificate functions as a passport for stateless Tibetans in India who wish to travel internationally.1 Previously, Tibetans were required to obtain an “invitation letter” from the person or institution sponsoring their travel abroad before obtaining the Identification Certificate. Tibetans told me that before the change, by the time their paperwork was processed by Government of India staff the invitation letter had expired and they were obliged to start the process all over again. The April 1 announcement notified them that an invitation letter would no longer be needed and Tibetans with a Registration Certificate could apply for an Identification Certificate directly. As a result, local settlement offices were flooded with Tibetans applying for the document. All over Dharamsala people were talking about the Identification Certificate. One day a friend asked me to review her English grammar in an e-mail that she was sending. She was writing to a Tibetan friend who was studying and working in the United States: “Interesting news: the Indian government made a change in the Identification Certificate law, now you don’t need an invitation letter to make an application. So people here are going crazy. Our copy machine is almost exploding, it never gets a rest.” (She said to me as we were composing, “I think McLeod is going to be empty.” She also wrote that people “think it’s easy, they think it’s a ‘confirmed thing’ that once they get the Identification Certificate they will be able to get a visa to go to the United States or wherever.”) 132

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There were long lines outside the Kashag (the Cabinet of the Tibetan government-in-exile) as people waited their turn, documents in hand. For me, the timing was fortunate, as the change in law precipitated much discussion about Tibetans going to the West. Figure 6.1, a cartoon printed in the Tibet Times, a Tibetan-language biweekly publication in Dharamsala, depicts a grandmother, walking with a cane, reciting the mantra, “Om mani padme hum, Om mani padme hum, Om. . . .” In the second panel she meets a monk, whom she greets, “Kusho la [a respectful term for a monk], are you going somewhere? I would like to make a request.” In the third panel, the monk responds, “Momo la, please be quick about it, I need to go to the Kashag.” Momo la answers, “That’s why I am asking, that’s where I am headed.” In the final panel Kusho-la and Momo-la are walking off together as he says, “If we don’t act quickly, they will all be gone. Everyone’s applying for the IC.” The message of the cartoon is that everyone, even monks and grandmothers who should have other things on their minds, are thinking about going to the West. One local business owner told me he wanted to put a sign up in his window that read, “I need my dishes washed too!” This caustic remark referred to his view that most Tibetans going abroad would end up doing menial work that they tended to shun in India. On June 7, 2000, I checked in with the Kashag, just over two months after the change in the law. According to their records over 6,300 people had applied for the Identification Certificate since April 1. The figure represents over 6 percent of the Tibetan population in India. Karen Kelsky (2001) uses the term occidental longing to describe the westward inclinations of a generation and class of Japanese women who lead or desire to lead an “international”

Figure 6.1 Cartoon from Tibet Times, July 31, 2000, by Sonam Dondup. Source: Tibet



Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

life that includes work and love in an undifferentiated “Western” sphere. I apply the term here to exile Tibetans with desires to move Westward. Why are people so keen on visiting, working, receiving an education, or migrating to the West? What are the motivating factors behind this movement? What has this movement meant in terms of Tibetans’ conceptions of themselves and their identity? The purpose of this chapter is to show how increased migration has highlighted anxiety about identity issues. To accomplish this goal, I closely examine Tibetan conceptualizations of “culture” and the ways these might be changing. I argue that such an examination helps us to understand the transformation of Tibetan subjectivities in the expanding diaspora. These understandings of culture are embedded in a matrix of everyday practice, engagement with a range of bureaucracies, positionings vis-à-vis states (India, China, and the United States) and nonstates (the Tibetan government-in-exile), transnational flows of people, information and entertainment, capital and ideas. Even though culture is an explicit part of Tibetan exile discourse, as discussed in chapters 3 and 5, it is difficult to get people, any people, to talk directly about abstract concepts in a way that reveals emergent characteristics. However, I did ask many Tibetans what they considered Tibetan culture to be, encouraging them to name its most important aspects. I received some enlightening replies. However, the most salient material came when we were not discussing culture directly. Most often, the topic was migration to the West. Tibetans expressed their motivations for going (or not going), what they thought of people who had already gone, the fears and hopes that accompanied such movement for themselves, for Tibetans in exile, and those still in Tibet. This chapter, then, will attempt to weave all these strands together to show not only how individuals see their place in the world as Tibetans in the twenty-first century, but also how Tibetan exiles see themselves collectively. I will begin with two sketches, one of a “newcomer” (gsar ‘byor pa), or a recent arrival from Tibet, and the other of an Indian-born Tibetan, or a “born refugee.” I present these two portraits as a starting point for understanding the various positions and perspectives of those I interviewed and surveyed. Their positions within exile society in India, the government-in-exile, the Indian nationstate, and their views on Tibetan culture as a whole influence their views of migration to the West (see also Van Notten 2001).

Tashi—Recent Arrival from Tibet I met Tashi in a vegetarian restaurant and café in Dharamsala. Tashi went there to study and also to meet Westerners who might be interested in exchanging

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Tibetan lessons for English lessons. Tashi is a newcomer to India. He arrived from Tibet, crossing the Himalayas into Nepal in 1998. When I interviewed him he was around twenty-eight years old. (Like many Tibetans born in Tibet, he doesn’t know the day or even the month he was born.) Tashi is from Amdo in Eastern Tibet; his home is in the Chinese province of Gansu. He comes from a relatively well-off family of farmers. His mother died and he has never known the identity of his father. He has an older brother who drives trucks for a Chinese truck company. His brother wrote him a letter a year after his arrival in India and asked him to come home. Tashi told me with dismay that he could not reply to the letter; he literally did not know what to say to his brother. He sometimes feels regret that he came to India, but because of his outspokenness in Tibet he feels he cannot go back there; he would be imprisoned. Tashi was a teacher in a college several hours from his home in Amdo. He taught Tibetan language and history to students between the ages of eighteen and twenty. He told me that he taught that there were two versions of Tibetan history: the Chinese version and the Tibetan version. He is a poet and a writer. He wrote an essay and some poetry, using a Chinese pseudonym, about the situation in Tibet. He suspects that a fellow teacher informed the police of his identity. The police came to the school one day and the head of the school called him in and told him he no longer had a job. He returned to his family and some time later the police started coming to his home and questioning him about his writings. He denied having written anything critical of the Chinese state. The police returned several times. He had a contact, working at the local police station, who told him the police were coming soon to arrest him. Tashi left for Lhasa with travel permits that a friend obtained that would allow him to travel and stay there legally. Tashi stayed in Lhasa for some time. At first he was frustrated by his inability to understand the Lhasa dialect, but after a couple of weeks he could understand and make himself understood. He saw Westerners for the first time and thought at first that they didn’t look like “black hair people” (sgra nag po)—a Tibetan euphemism for “human.” Finally, he and a companion made their way to the border. They bought a large bag of tsampa2 to eat on the way. It was not clear from which place they started walking, but he told me that it took him and his friend a month to reach Nepal, crossing several high mountain passes. There were close encounters with border guards, but they were not caught. They hired someone to take them safely over the border and they arrived in Nepal. They were taken to the reception center in Kathmandu, processed, and soon put on a bus to India.


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

Tashi confided to me that he doesn’t like to “tell his story” to people unless he knows them well. He said that he feels Tibetans living in India have a set story they want to hear about Chinese oppression and persecution that will confirm the reasons behind their continued exile. Because of shyness or perhaps a distrust of authority, he told me that he did not describe the firing from his job and threat of imprisonment that caused him to flee his country to government-in-exile authorities. He seemed baffled at what had happened to him and said to me, “What I did wasn’t even that serious! I know people who did much worse things than me and the Chinese never went after them.” It was during my conversations with Tashi that I came to realize the gulf of cultural and societal difference that colors the way we perceive resistance and the actions of the state to quell such behavior. It is clear that having grown up under Chinese Communism, Tashi had what I considered to be a different understanding of individual rights in a society. Even though he had been persecuted for his determination to speak the truth about Tibetan and Chinese history, he was also keenly aware of what he considered to be the limiting framework of exile discourse about Chinese occupation. He repeatedly expressed his frustration that, in his opinion, the government-in-exile was interested in hearing only bad things about Chinese rule in Tibet. Yet, like many newcomers, Tashi felt passionately about the injustices of Chinese policy and attitudes toward Tibetans (see Figure 6.2, which depicts newcomer refugees protesting on March 10, 2000), and notably, these feelings stemmed from the lived experience of being a Tibetan in the People’s Republic of China. Tashi, like many young men from Tibet of his age in Dharamsala, had no permanent employment. He worked as a Tibetan-language teacher for interested foreigners. He also attempted to find foreigners to teach him English. Studying in this piecemeal fashion he had learned quite a bit of English in the previous two years. When I asked why he didn’t find a job, he responded that he wanted to work but that it was hardly worth it to take the only kind of job he could get, which was working in restaurants in McLeod Ganj. “Why should I work for Rs500 per month (roughly $10) and not have enough to eat and no time to study?” In the year or so that he had been in Dharamsala before I met him, he had formed a sponsorship relationship with an older Western woman who would periodically send him money from Europe via Western Union. When I met Tashi he had signs up around town advertising his availability to teach Tibetan; the bottom of the sign read, “Payment is not necessary.” He told me that he was too shy to ask for money. I told him not to be ridiculous and

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Figure 6.2 “Newcomer” refugees, March 10 demonstration, Dharamsala, India, 2000.

Source: Author.

that he should be paid for his services. He subsequently changed the ad to read, “payment is Rs50 per hour.” I encouraged him to try to put his teaching skills to use in Tibetan schools. He patiently explained to me that he could not get a teaching job in the exile schools. After some inquiry, I discovered that he was right. The schools have to conform to Indian educational requirements and teachers must have Indian certifications. There was a teacher’s training program at the Buddhist Institute of Dialectics, but he seemed insulted when I suggested that he apply to that program. He considered it far below his level of education and a waste of time. Tashi rented a room with a friend who was also from Amdo. The room had no bathroom facilities. Like most houses in Dharamsala, it was unheated in winter, except for a tiny electric heater, which he plugged in sporadically to take the bite out of the cold. Each of the two men had a variety of books (some of them carried from Tibet) and a tall stack of blankets by their beds. They also had a two-burner stove that they used for cooking and a spigot outside for washing their dishes. While I was in Dharamsala, Tashi began a romantic relationship with a European woman. When the change in Identification Certificate regulations occurred


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

in April 2000, she encouraged him to apply. We discussed the merits and demerits of his trying to go to the West. What he really wanted, he said, was to go back to Tibet. But that was impossible. He was sure to go to jail. But he said optimistically, “Maybe only a year or two. Maybe the Chinese would forget what I had done.” He was unsure of his chances of teaching again in Tibet. Staying in India also seemed fruitless, there were few opportunities for him there to teach. I reminded him, however, that if his goal was to teach Tibetan there was even a smaller chance of realizing that dream in the West. If he went to the United States, I cautioned, he would probably end up working in a restaurant, or gardening, or some other type of labor he wouldn’t consider in India. In the course of applying for his Identification Certificate, Tashi encountered a problem with his Registration Certificate. It seemed that the date of birth, which was handwritten in his Registration Certificate, was somewhat ambiguous. This had caused the person who helped him fill out his Identification Certificate application to mark a different date of birth than that shown on another document, his birth certificate. Not being concerned with his date of birth, he had never noticed the discrepancy until his girlfriend pointed it out to him. He asked me to help him straighten out the confusion. We went to the appropriate office and explained the problem, and the clerk suggested that he himself had changed the date in his Registration Certificate. Tashi was very upset by this allegation and tried to explain that when he received the document, it was this way. The clerk clearly didn’t believe him. He made many visits to various offices where he was at first subjected to this kind of scrutiny, but then ultimately helped after his vociferous denials and humble appeals. Eventually, another friend accompanied him to the Indian police station in lower Dharamsala in order to check what the record said there. (The primary concern was that during the security check that occurs routinely as part of the investigation to determine eligibility for receiving an Identification Certificate, the police would notice the discrepancy between the two documents.) Tashi was loath to visit the police station, thinking it would cause more problems for him. But he took two Tibetans, both fluent in English, and one who had grown up in the United States and one in India and thus was conversant in Hindi. They obtained the original record in the police station and for birth date it simply recorded an age: “21.” The problem was eventually straightened out and he received his Identification Certificate. Wrestling with this problem with Tashi helped me to understand several things. First, I came to appreciate the ambivalence of Tashi’s relationship with

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the state (any state, including the government-in-exile) and the different attitudes that must be developed toward people in the state apparatus if one is to accomplish a particular goal in the bureaucracy. I found that beginning with not knowing a birth date, the state’s requirement of a level of knowledge about the self is discordant with what Tibetans consider important to know about the self.3 Second, I saw the way one recent arrival from Tibet was treated by a selection of people within the government-in-exile: people seemed exasperated with his ignorance of bureaucracy, suspicious of his motivations, and sometimes paternalistic in their attitude until they finally agreed to help. His relationship with his girlfriend eventually allowed him to get a visa to go to Europe. When I discussed with him the option of going to Europe or the United States, he seemed ambivalent about going even farther away from Tibet, but was sure that he could not return there without going to jail for at least some period of time. He felt his life in India was going nowhere. When I cautioned him that living without the appropriate immigration papers in the United States was far from ideal, he asked me if the prison guards beat prisoners in the United States. I responded that it was known to happen, and he replied that even so it had to be better than Chinese prisons. He and his girlfriend eventually married and he received legal residence in Germany. As of 2005, he was studying the German language, but had yet to find work.

Deckyi—Born in Exile Deckyi was twenty-three years old at the time of my research in Dharamsala and was born in India to Tibetan parents. Her parents and siblings were in the United States, having resettled as part of the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP). Because she was older than twenty-one years of age when family reunification began, she was not able to join her family in New York City under the family reunification aspect of the TUSRP. Deckyi is highly ambitious and very intelligent. She worked for the exile administration in a demanding job. She was often frustrated with the bureaucracy and seemingly, although she never said so explicitly, with the chauvinism that allowed a younger man with less experience to be in a position of authority over her. She was not married and lived with her boyfriend of several years in a rundown one-room house with an attached kitchen in Dharamsala. She told me that she was reluctant to marry; she didn’t want to wear the traditional pangden, or apron, the garment Tibetan women wear to signify their married status.


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

Deckyi did not seem to want to give up her independence. She was constantly on the move, walking swiftly around her office at work. I often saw her sit down and then pop up again a moment later to attend to something else. Deckyi’s beliefs reflect a mixture of respect for and skepticism of certain Tibetan practices, such as divination. She told me how her mother once had a mo—a divination— performed for her in order to determine whether or not she should apply for a scholarship. The results of the mo were not favorable and so she did not apply for the scholarship. In the end it turned out that very few people applied for the program, and if she had applied she would have had a fairly good chance of being accepted into the program. Deckyi has had a sponsor from France since she was a young girl. Her sponsor arranged for her to visit France and has visited Deckyi in India. Deckyi told me that after her visit to France, she was stopped by the Indian police at the airport because she was carrying her Nepali passport (she didn’t have Indian travel documents). She said that the man who was questioning her propositioned her, intimating that if she had sex with him he could work out her problem. She declined his offer and was put on the next flight back to France and was made to fly from France to Nepal. From Kathmandu she returned to India by bus. We had many discussions together about the effect of the expanding diaspora on Tibetan society in exile. Deckyi was very vocal in her opinion that most Tibetans were just wasting time in India. When someone countered her view with the argument that it was dangerous to Tibetan identity to scatter Tibetans all over the world, she responded that Tibetans were already scattered over India and Nepal and that there was nothing for young people to do in India. It was better that they go and get an education. For herself, she was reluctant to go to the United States on a tourist visa (which was possible because of her parents’ immigration status in the United States). They could easily sponsor her to visit this way, but she did not want to be stuck working in a restaurant or some other job that would not allow her to use her education. She wanted to find a way that she could continue her education in the United States. She was considering an application to the Fulbright program,4 sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency, which provides scholarships for Tibetans to study in the United States, and study for the Graduate Record Exam. Several years later, Deckyi did come to the United States under the Fulbright program, studying computer engineering at a university on the East Coast. At this time there were rumors and much discussion among Fulbright recipients that the exile government and the United States, worried about

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“brain drain” and increasing numbers of young Tibetans leaving India for the United States, were not issuing tourist visas to the spouses of Fulbright scholars in an attempt to thwart immigration attempts. Deckyi officially married her boyfriend, and when he obtained asylum, she was provided a way, as his spouse, to remain in the United States. Tashi and Deckyi’s life histories are very different, despite their both being categorized as “Tibetan refugees.” While they lived in Dharamsala, minutes apart from each other, they saw themselves as coming from different worlds. At the same time, their lives were deeply affected by their statelessness and each was seeking a way to maneuver around their status as a way to escape what each perceived as a dead end in India. Significantly, both had glimpsed a tantalizing future on the horizon, made possible through mobility and broadened opportunities in the West. Further, they show complex and emergent articulations of Tibetan culture.

The Meanings of Culture/Culture in Practice One of the interesting things about conducting research with Tibetans is that their displacement and international political engagement over the last fifty years has resulted in a “culture concept” rooted in both Western and Tibetan assumptions. Moreover, for Tibetans, “culture” is discussed and understood in a very conscious way by exiles. Recall the instance in Chapter 1 when Thupten responded to the Western woman who was critical of Tibetans’ modernization and commercialization. It is delightfully ironic that it was the Tibetan (the native in the “savage slot”) who was educating the “Westerner,” using a theoretical construct that clearly made her uncomfortable, at least when it comes to Tibetans. I, too, often found myself defending “culture” as a changing field of ideas and practices to the many Westerners who told me how sad they found the state of culture in exile, and who asserted that in the United States, surely, Tibetan culture would be entirely lost. I was, and remain, less able to defend this view to Tibetans who express similar ideas about culture loss. One day in Bylakuppe, I spent some time with a vibrant young woman who was home on summer vacation from her studies at a university in Europe. She had been selected for an academic scholarship for study abroad when she was nine years old and she had a sibling who was part of the TUSRP. I came home dejected after considering what she had to say. She told me that she was opposed to Tibetans going to the West, that she thought it was the wrong decision, and that they would “lose their culture.” Watching her negotiate the dirt roads of


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

Bylakuppe in her platform shoes and her sparkly urban attire, I wondered if perhaps she was right. I came home, wrote some field notes, and wandered out to where my research assistant, Ajam, was sitting on the porch with my husband Matthew. I told them about my realization that because of increased opportunities for Tibetans to go to the United States, Bylakuppe (and probably many of the other agricultural settlements) would radically change, and perhaps even cease to exist, in the coming years because so many young people were leaving. Ajam tried to assuage my fears: “Don’t worry, even though many Tibetans may leave India for the West and then lose their culture, there are plenty of Tibetans in Tibet who will remain Tibetan.” This comment crystallized a division in exile society for me that became increasingly apparent as I carried out my fieldwork: between those more established Tibetan exiles who fled in 1959 and their children, like Deckyi, who were born in exile, on the one hand, and “newcomers,” those recent arrivals from Tibet, like Tashi, on the other. These two stories show several of the complexities and disjunctures one encounters when talking about cultural preservation and loss as it relates to Tibetans whether they live in Tibet, in India, in the United States, or elsewhere in the West. I thus return to the notion of formalized discourse discussed in Chapter 3 and then encounter both Westerners’ ideas about Tibetan culture and Tibetans’ ideas. In this chapter, the primary focus is not on the disjuncture between Western images of Shangri-La and the reality of Tibetan cultural expressions. Rather, the focus is on the disjuncture between Tibetans from Tibet and those born in exile. As we saw in Chapter 3, “culture” is a prominent part of exile discourse, painted on street signs and, moreover, part of the common language used by my informants. This part of the chapter illustrates how discursive elements commonly used to explicate “Tibetanness,” in this case the culture concept, become consciously integrated into the way a people, exile Tibetans, think about themselves collectively and individually. This is not to say that there are no unconscious elements that come into play. Indeed there are, and it is the tension between the conscious and the unconscious that highlights the continual process of change. The first category of Tibetans, those well established in India, often initially responded to my inquiries about “culture” with a materialist definition, but when pressed or in conversations that highlighted praxis or their ideas about Tibetanness or change within the community, their articulations of the culture concept were revealed as multivalent, complex, and in flux. Newcomers, on the other hand, bring with them ideas about culture that are informed by their experience living within the Chinese state.

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Tibetan Culture as Monolithic Versus Adaptability and Change For Tibetans in India, the goals of the exile community have been basically twofold: first, to create “authentic” Tibetan communities in India where traditional lifeways are preserved in the face of Chinese occupation and attempts to wipe out Tibetan culture in Tibet, and second, to gain independence for Tibet (or some acceptable measure of autonomy) that will enable the return of the exile community to its homeland. These two goals, although certainly not incompatible, create a certain amount of tension. Tibetans have spent a great deal of energy and resources to establish vibrant settlements and to build institutions that teach and enable the practice of particular elements of their culture. And at the same time, the goal of return, at least for the first generation, fostered an attitude that made India a temporary home, one that would soon be left behind. Speaking with older people and hearing anecdotes from younger people lead me to speculate that although members of the first generation often still harbor a hope of return in their lifetime, as they get older many have had to concede that they might not live to see that day. For people who were children when they left Tibet, as well as those born in India, return seems more like an abstraction. Many seem not to harbor a visceral longing for “home,” but what feels like an inborn sense of displacement and frustration that has become their birthright as refugee Tibetans. The following is a quote from a twenty-four-year old Tibetan woman who immigrated to New Mexico as part of the TUSRP, but who grew up in a refugee settlement in India: The elders would tell stories about how they came over [from Tibet], you know, how their life was. There was an older man, he wasn’t related to me, but he had a store by the road. And one day he was, maybe I went there to get a candy or a bubble gum or something, and he was telling stories to us how when they came over like how . . . they had to leave all of a sudden and people were dying on the way, and no food left. And he was telling me how he ate leather, soaking it in water. And there are some Tibetans who would go to Tibet and come back with religious, sacred things from Mount Kailash, sand or river water and then for me, it always seems like Tibet is so far away, it’s almost impossible to go. . . . Now, when I look at the map, we can go so many places, because we have the right papers and money. And like Nepal, and there it is! But it seems like so far, impossible to go and I always think of the Chinese being harsh and then [they] would kill me.


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The discourse of cultural preservation created by the government-in-exile and outsiders interested in the Tibetan refugee situation often portrays the settlements as bastions of “authentic” Tibetan culture. One Tibetan woman in her mid-thirties living in Bylakuppe explained, “It is because all the Tibetans live near each other, in this largest, oldest settlement, that they were able to preserve their culture in a very pure way.” Only a few sources point out the incredible adaptations, such as farming in a tropical environment, the development of the secular educational system, and the day-to-day contact with Indians, that Tibetans have had to make while living in south India. Here, the tension between creating a successful refugee community and communicating the loyalty Tibetans have to Tibet is depicted by many observers in the idea that Tibetans are very “successful” refugees, adapting to their new environment, and at the same time remaining faithful to their Tibetanness (see Goldstein 1978 for an early treatment of this idea; DeVoe 1987; and most recently Diehl 2002 for a view of the tensions between culture preservation, change, and loss). When asked directly about the influence of Indian culture on the Tibetan way of life in India, many Tibetans responded that of course living in India had influenced Tibetan culture in exile. Tibetans in India watch the latest Bollywood films produced in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the capital of the Hindi film industry; listen to Hindi music; eat Indian food; learn to speak, read, and write passable Hindi (they study Hindi until the eighth class in Tibetan schools); and spend many hours enjoying Hindi soaps on television.5 Yet there is the idea that “Western culture” is potentially more infectious, that Tibetan youth are more likely to be influenced by Western values, perspectives, and way of life than they are by Indian values. A settlement officer, when asked if he thought Western culture was more attractive to Tibetans than Indian culture, said yes, he thought so, “Because in the West there is more liberty, more individual freedom and so Tibetans are attracted to it. Indian culture is like Tibetan culture because there is a lot of hierarchy, caste.” At the same time, there is a double standard about intermarriage: while a marriage with a non-Tibetan is not ideal, a Tibetan marrying an Indian is unthinkable to many, while marrying a Westerner is more acceptable. It is true that Tibetan settlements in India are mostly separate from Indian communities. As discussed previously, many Tibetans objected to the TUSRP mainly because the creation of separate communities in the United States was not possible. From some people’s perspective, it was a “mistake” made by the organizers that this was not achieved; some thought that Tibetans should have at least been all placed in one U.S. city instead of scattered all across the country.

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At the same time, some Tibetans perceive Western culture as antithetical to the maintenance of Tibetan cultural values, or as pernicious and invasive. Some also expressed a view that I have found to be common among a large number of people in the United States, that “there is no culture in the United States.” One informant told me that “there is no culture there [meaning the United States], there is only ego; there are no traditions.” Generally, Tibetan exiles born in India state that Tibetan culture has remained intact in India. This idea is corroborated by the numbers of survey respondents (seventy-five), who said that “culture loss” was the biggest threat posed by increased migration. Newcomers see Tibetan culture in India as influenced not only by Indian culture, but also as more representative of U-Tsang or Central Tibetan traditions and values than those from Eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo). Beyond Preservation Some Tibetans are saying that it is time, or at any rate that it is now possible, to move beyond the preservationist paradigm that has shaped exile policy for the last forty years. I will quote extensively from an October 1999 editorial in the Tibetan Review titled “Tibetan Exile Comes of Age,” as it provides one Tibetan’s understanding of why young Tibetans are so interested in migration. Furthermore, the author touches on many of the themes discussed here: In their single-minded zeal and devotion to re-establish in India and Nepal a semblance of their civilization, which they saw the invading communist Chinese army systematically and brutally destroy in their homeland, the Tibetans missed out a great deal on personal rehabilitation. . . . If today there is a growing number of Tibetans seeking refugees [sic] status in the democratic first world, it is because they still haven’t found a secure third country of refuge where they have the opportunity to develop and use their full potential because they are both legal and psychological outsiders. Today’s exile Tibetan youngster [sic] are not encumbered by the kind of civilization-rebuilding obligations their first- and even second generation exile elders were. Modern secular education with exposure to, and in many cases, interaction with, the outside world has made them career and ambition-conscious. They do not want merely to be component parts of a successful refugee community. They want to be successful as individuals too. Besides, preserving the Tibetan culture


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in exile is not as full time an occupation as re-establishing it from scratch for the very first time on alien soil was. This explains why today’s exile Tibetan youngsters have the kind of time to think about their own personal future and the opportunities to pursue them which the earlier generations of exile Tibetans did not have. . . . In the meanwhile centres of Tibetan culture have been coming up in the west to be hopefully followed by the establishment of Tibetan communities. Individually speaking, those settled in the West have done much better than those living in the Indian subcontinent, because of the better opportunities and conditions of life. This explains the enthusiasm among many youngsters today to go to live in that part of the world. Unless conditions in Tibet become congenial for Tibetans to return home, it might as well be that they have as a good a condition of life in exile as the circumstances would allow. After all, we do live in a very small world. The USA and Canada are today not any much further away from Tibet than India and Nepal are, thanks to the internet and air transport technologies. (Tibetan Review 1999: 2)

In answer to the question of what benefits might accompany increased migration to the West, one survey respondent, a thirty-year-old male who was born in India, wrote that it would help the Tibet movement and benefit Tibetans economically. In addition, he added that migration to the West “changes the concept from ‘preservation’ to ‘development.’ ” A twenty-three-year-old male, also born in India, wrote, “Due to the kind of work of their parents there is cultural preservation among the younger generation.” So while cultural preservation has been the raison d’être of the exile government for the last forty years, in large part, because of this focus, many regard it as something that has been accomplished. This perspective, paired with a solid educational background, has made young Tibetan exiles eager to avail themselves of the perceived opportunities international migration presents. A settlement officer I interviewed articulated another aspect of this “beyond preservation” perspective. His view was that Tibetans in the West constituted a “cultural sacrifice” on the altar of the possibility of a free Tibet: although lamentable, culture loss is a small price to pay for significant political gain. Newcomers, of course, most especially those that were not educated primarily in exile institutions, are not beneficiaries of what I have called this “beyond preservation” perspective. It is likely that many of them do not hold the view that Tibetan culture in India and Nepal is more “authentic” than in Chinesecontrolled Tibet. They are also acutely aware of the disdain that many better-

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established exiles hold for them and their “Sinicized” ways. On many occasions, Indian-born Tibetans would express their distaste and bafflement at the manners of new arrivals—essentially considering them rude, too direct, and sometimes even prone to violence. Nonetheless, a large percentage of them have come to India precisely to avail themselves of the opportunity to receive an education that is not available to them in Tibet. Whether this is envisioned as increased opportunities for a Western-influenced education that includes English, or a Tibetan education of the type not available in Tibet, varies from individual to individual. However, many newcomers did cite fear of culture loss as a concern associated with increased migration. Culture as a Catalogue of Traits Versus Worldview When I asked interviewees in India directly “What is Tibetan culture?” or “What elements of Tibetan culture are most important?” many people immediately stated that it was more than food, clothing, and everyday practices that can be identified as singularly “Tibetan.” I was struck by this in New Mexico before I went to India, and speculated that Tibetans in the United States had quickly learned a more flexible way of thinking about “culture” that deviates from these standard notions, in part to provide justification for their own migratory project. However, Tibetans in India responded in the same way to my inquiries. And interestingly, even when a person did use the cataloguing approach in response to my questions, I often found that in different places in the conversation, or in different contexts, he or she might express a more complex or even a divergent view. A good example was a conversation I had with a young woman named Dechen. Trained as a lawyer and working for the Central Tibetan Administration, Dechen was very articulate in her view of the effects of the TUSRP on Tibetan identity. She said that Tibetans going to the United States would certainly become incorporated into U.S. society and would start to think in the way of Americans. I probed further, asking which aspects of Tibetan culture were important. She said there are many different aspects of Tibetan culture that are unique: the way Tibetans eat, the way Tibetans dress, and many other things. She said Tibetans in India see people come back from abroad and imitate Western ways in a very superficial manner, but that they do not look at the deeper, more important things. She used me as an example, saying they would not look at the fact that I was conducting doctoral research, and they would not choose to emulate that, only my hairstyle, the way I carry myself, the way I dress.


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Later, Dechen told me that she was considering studying marriage and divorce law because there is no clear Tibetan law about marriage. She clarified, “People say, ‘I don’t want to live with him anymore’ and that just isn’t good enough.” She said that in her settlement there are many girls who had arranged marriages that did not even know they were getting married. One day they would be told they were going to a party. They would dress up, go to the “party” and sit on a bed, and the next thing they knew they were married. She was glad that this was changing in exile and that her parents had not arranged a marriage for her. Her vehemence was interesting in light of her comments about the way Tibetans will lose their culture going to the West. She emphasized this was just her opinion (that Tibetans will lose their culture). I reassured her that many Tibetans felt this way, that she was not alone. She then added, “Still, if I have the opportunity I would want to go abroad to further my studies.” Thus, she was among many others who explicitly articulated this tension between a negative view of migration in terms of culture loss for the community at large and openness to the prospect as it related to her own future. On the one hand, she clearly recognized the contradiction between her views on culture loss and the fact that she would still like to go at least to improve her education. On the other hand, she perhaps did not see the contradiction between her belief that the changes in marriage customs would be positive and her fears that other changes constitute culture loss. Many Tibetans pointed out to me the prevalence of opinions similar to Dechen’s about migration and resulting culture loss, remarking that many of these people would still go abroad if given the chance. While some considered the disjuncture between belief and practice to be hypocritical, I suggest that it is more emblematic of the application of a discourse of modernity that privileges individualism, but only in terms of benefits accruing to the collective. In Tibetan exile society there are contradictory views about the benefits of migration for individuals as well as for Tibetan society as a whole. Others completely rejected the idea that culture is simply a catalogue of traits and told me that the more important aspect of being a Tibetan was a worldview, a moral outlook, a way of being in the world. Many linked this to imparting aspects of Buddhist philosophy to future generations, apart from a direct transmission of the daily practices of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Influence of Buddhist Philosophy on Tibetan Ideas About Culture Throughout the fieldwork period, when I initially told non-Tibetans that my research was related to Tibet, they assumed that I was studying Buddhism.

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When I admitted that I actually knew very little about Buddhism, I was generally met with skepticism. “How can you study Tibetan culture and not know anything about Buddhism?” Comments such as this forced me to continually ask myself and others about the relationship between Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Are they synonymous? How has the practice of Buddhism changed in exile? Are there generational differences? How do young people feel about Buddhism? How are assumptions about Tibetans and Buddhism related to romanticized fantasies about Tibet? On the discursive level, Tibetans, the Dalai Lama, the government-in-exile, and especially Westerners often equate Tibetan culture with Buddhism (see Chapter 3), but it is my contention that they should not be considered synonymous. Admittedly, the practice of Buddhism is an integral part of Tibetan life, yet it is important to lift the veil of romanticism that depicts clerics as the totality of Tibetan life. Laypeople also practice Buddhism, of course, and individuals certainly incorporate Buddhist practice and thought into their lives to varying degrees and have done so throughout history. Like all aspects of Tibetan cultural practice, religious practices have changed dramatically in Tibet (see Goldstein and Kapstein 1998), as well as in India, Nepal, and Bhutan (see Samuel 1993; Childs 2004) compared to pre-1959 Tibet. In India, Buddhist monasteries have been established (see Ström 1997). The land is leased from individual Indian states, and individuals receive their own plots, which return to the settlement upon their death. Monasteries now draw most of their monks from the newcomer population (meaning that few Tibetans born in India choose to become monks or nuns). According to the 1998 Tibetan Demographic Survey, there are 121 monasteries and 16 nunneries in India and Nepal. The total population of the monasteries is 11,239 and of the nunneries is 1,058 (Central Tibetan Administration 2000b, vol. 1: 71). Although the current monastic population is sizeable, most of these monks and nuns—if the figures that were quoted to me at Sera Je in Bylakuppe hold true for the rest of the monastic establishments in India—were born in Tibet. When I asked one Tibetan born in India why he thought Indian-born Tibetans were not interested in becoming monks and nuns, he thought it was primarily due to the secular educational system that inculcates Tibetans into modernist ways of thinking, disinclining them to be attracted to life as a cleric (see Thargyal 1997). Geoffrey Samuel concludes his work Civilized Shamans (1993) with this observation on the changes in Tibetan Buddhist practice in exile: Among the refugees, in Bhutan, and in the culturally Tibetan regions of India and Nepal, most of the major teaching lineages have survived, but potential


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students are exposed to a world that has little place for such an apparently archaic and irrelevant set of procedures as Tantric meditation. The overall body of cultural patterns that Tibetan Buddhism formed part of has largely disappeared, and it seems likely that the Vajrayana will have to undergo drastic transformation if it is to find a viable and continuing place among future generations of Tibetans either in or outside the PRC. (1993: 576)

Impermanence (mi rtag pa) Like my informants, I realize that there is more to culture than the practice of its formalized or ritualistic aspects. Undeniably there are “Buddhist” ideas that shape most every Tibetan’s way of thinking and consequently the way they live their lives, regardless of the level of formalized practice. The concepts of permanence/impermanence (rtag pa and mi rtag pa), karma (las), and rebirth (skye ba blangs) are crucial to Tibetan perspectives on the world. Early on in my research with Tibetans in New Mexico, I began to wonder what influence the concept of impermanence might have on the way people perceive the radical changes associated with migration and the changes that accompany such moves for an exile population. On at least six different occasions Tibetans brought up the notion of impermanence as it relates to culture change during interviews and in conversation. This idea from Buddhist philosophy is one that permeates the everyday life and thoughts of Tibetans. The categories “permanent” and “impermanent” are the most basic divisions of “existents” (yod ba) in Buddhist philosophy. Joe Wilson (1998) explains: “The emphasis in Buddhism, in many ways, is on the impermanent, with the mental superimposition of permanence on what is, in fact, impermanent being seen as a major obstacle to practice.” Furthermore, The term permanent is misleading, but has been used here because most writers use it to translate rtag pa (Sanskrit: nitya). Permanent phenomena are not necessarily eternal, that is, they may come into and go out of existence. What makes them “permanent” is that they do not change while they exist; that is, they are not momentary (skad cig ma). Static might be a better term for rtag pa. On the other hand, impermanent phenomena arise and cease every moment and are thus constantly disintegrating. (Wilson 1998: 145)

An understanding of impermanence, then, leads a person to attempt to understand the ever-changing nature of the phenomena that make up everyday life. Tenzin Taklha served as the Project Coordinator for the TUSRP in New York in the 1990s. He said this about culture and its relation to impermanence:

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julia: Another culture question, and I am sure different sectors of Tibetan society see this differently, but do you think that Tibetans see culture as a fixed sort of thing, or is it something that changes and is elastic? tenzin taklha: That’s a complicated question! julia: I know, I’m sorry! I can tell you one thing, in the literature, when I was reading about Tibetan culture, it seems like it is portrayed as a very frozen thing. But when I got here, it seemed. . . . A lot of people say to me, it’s not these things that I do, it’s the way I think. tenzin taklha: I think that’s very true. I think a lot of this comes as part of Tibetans being brought up as Buddhists, so for example nothing is permanent, everything is transient, it’s impermanent, everything changes. So in terms of that, if you were to try Tibetan culture, I don’t know, there is a Tibetan culture, you can call it Buddhist culture, but basically. . . . Yeah, definitely I think that’s because of our upbringing, that everything’s impermanent, everything changes, everyone knows, I mean most Tibetans, that’s one of the fundamental things, mi rtag pa, impermanence. So things are bound to change.

Tibetans also invoked mi rtag pa in reference to Tibet’s status with China and in relation to feelings of belonging as Tibetans resettle in the United States (see Chapter 8). Thus, we can see how a philosophy imbued with mi rtag pa provides Tibetans with a long-term perspective on change—in their own lives and as it concerns Tibetan society and the place of Tibet in the world. Karma (las) According to Samuel (1993), karma (Sanskrit; Tibetan: las) refers to the “immutable laws of cause and effect. According to this law of karma, one’s actions in this life, or more precisely one’s intentional states, have effects in future lives, just as one’s fortune in this life results from the karma of one’s past actions” (25). In Tibetan, the word las literally means “action.” As such, Tibetans apply the law of cause and effect not only to this life but to past and future lives as well. Samuel notes that Karma in Indian society can act as an ideology to explain and justify social inequality. The lower castes have been born as such as a proper and impartial consequence for their actions in a previous life. While this kind of thought is present in Buddhist societies, and karma is often used as an explanation of the apparent differences of ability between people, the emphasis in Buddhist thought has always tended to be in the opposite direction. Karma acts as the


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foundation for ethics and morality. One should avoid morally bad actions because of their unpleasant consequences in a future life, and cultivate morally good actions that will both help to ensure a good rebirth and provide a sound foundation for eventual escape from the cycle of rebirth. (Samuel 1993: 378)

DeVoe (1983) writes about the belief in karma among the Tibetan refugees living in India she studied for her dissertation. DeVoe’s emphasis is on the karma orientation and how it influences Tibetans’ responses to the challenges of everyday life. Tibetans say that because they believe in karma, the motivation for hard work, for instance, would not be to change one’s material situation, for that hardly has to do with “improving” one’s life. Hard work would be a source of contentment in itself, regardless of the material profit it brought. While it may not alter the present stage of being, which [h]as evolved through thousands of reincarnations to this point, especially if the work is beneficial to others, one can contribute goodness to one’s own karma in future lives. The important teaching is that one must accept present circumstances. (DeVoe 1983: 84)

Discussions with Tibetans during fieldwork have led me to suggest that there has been a change, at least among young people raised in India, in terms of their karma orientation. DeVoe writes that during the years she conducted research (1980–1981) that “the lay usage of Las or karma almost always was as an apology, excuse, or rationalization for sickness, disease, unemployment, poverty, or just being refugees. But, such discussions inevitably turned to the topic of happiness and acceptance of worldly circumstances with a view of the future and the past, the part of this one human life in its many generations” (86). I too had discussions with Tibetans where karma (las) was referenced in this way. I remember the way one young man, in his late twenties and a recent arrival from Tibet, responded to my exhortations that he apply to a new initiative on the part of the Australian government that was to provide a number of Tibetan newcomers, expressly political refugees, with immigrant visas. He replied that it was las that would determine whether or not he would migrate. I remember exhorting him, in typical American fashion, that if he did not submit an application, he would never get chosen for this particular program, regardless of las. However, the main thrust, as DeVoe writes, of the karma orientation—that an individual should be content with one’s present circumstances—is also re-

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flected in young Tibetans’ perspectives. Tsering, a young Tibetan woman I interviewed who had recently graduated from high school in India and who was studying in Europe at the time of our interview, spoke of how a Buddhist outlook was integrated into her perspective on life: Sometimes, I used to be very depressed, thinking I have such a hard life. And then I would think, oh my god, it’s not a hard life. I would think of my grandparents crossing the Himalayas and I would think that’s nothing compared to what I am doing. I think again of what my mom always tells me of the Buddhist idea, that you are always better off than so many people that don’t have any eyes, or no legs. My mom would always tell me, you know that you are always better off even if you are in the worst state in the world. That has given me a lot of energy and passion for life, because I feel like I am really blessed. There are not many people in Tibetan society who are depressed, because they are happy to have everything and anything that they have. And they even consider that the Chinese invasion was part of their destiny. They try to get the best of their situation. They are always satisfied. I think that is also one thing unique about Tibetans that I don’t find in other cultures, maybe there are in other cultures, but I think it’s uniquely Tibetan. Highly satisfied people.

Tsering spoke of the energizing effect and “the passion for life” this perspective gives her as she recognizes her blessings. She is satisfied with her current circumstances, but as we will see in Chapter 8, she is an ambitious young woman with plans to use her education to serve the Tibetan community. Many young Tibetans see migration to the West as a part of a broader progressive movement that will improve one’s individual prospects and lifestyle and that is necessarily linked to the economic well-being of one’s family, and Tibetans generally (both in exile and in Tibet itself), in terms of the potential for gains in the political movement. In this way, diasporic Tibetans are influenced by the idea of karma in very individualistic and collectivist ways—hoping through their actions to create a positive future for themselves as well as for Tibetans as a whole.

Beyond Practice: Tibetanness and Nationalism So far in this chapter I have compared discursive ideas about Tibetan culture with the culture concept in praxis—how Tibetans in their daily lives and thoughts continually stretch beyond and indeed transform these ideas. If


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Tibetan culture is not, then, confined to a catalogue of traits, nor synonymous with Buddhism, how do we describe it? My research affirmed the observation of other scholars (DeVoe 1983, 1987; Nowak 1984; Shakya 1993) that Tibetan identity, or “Tibetanness,” in exile has come to be closely aligned with nationalist sentiments. Over and over again, Tibetans in their forties and younger, born or educated primarily in India, indicated that the most important element of being a Tibetan was being concerned with the Tibetan cause. During my interview with Tenzin Taklha, he described the important aspects of his own Tibetan identity this way: I think in India, it’s much easier of course, being a Tibetan, because you have a whole community and you live in that community. For the people in the United States I think it’s much more difficult trying to keep your identity. What I mean by identity . . . my sort of identity is more sort of the political side, more nationalistic, knowing that you are a Tibetan, knowing that you have your own country and all that. I think it would be a shame if Tibetans go to America, and think that they are Americans now and completely forget about who they are. About what’s happening to Tibet and, basically, not being involved. Being Tibetan means that you should let people know that you are Tibetan, let people know what’s happening to your country, let people know, you know, who you are and all that. I mean, I don’t think it’s all right just being a Tibetan and just keeping it to yourself. I mean it’s important for the Tibetans, my hope is that Tibetans will go and start spreading information about Tibet and then people know who you are and what’s happening to your country. In that way, it’s important, for me it’s important, that they try to do that.

This is significant because it frames Tibetanness not as performing an identifiable set of cultural practices, but rather as feeling an allegiance to Tibet, and furthermore demonstrably acting on this feeling in a diaspora context. Yet, there is the implicit idea that geographic proximity and isolated communities make it easier to maintain Tibetan identity. Most Tibetans, including those that immigrate, assume a certain amount of culture loss will happen as the diaspora expands. Lobsang, a New Mexico Tibetan, said it this way in an interview that took place in September 1999: It’s my personal opinion that Tibetanness thinking is more important than some of the rituals, than some of the cultural activities that one might perform. And knowing the present poor plight situation of Tibet as a whole, even in Tibet,

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within Tibet they are losing, due to Chinese influences, to some extent, Tibetans are losing their identities. And those Tibetans in Nepal and India are also losing their identities due to local influences. And the more so, the people in the West. So those are some of the areas that are not within our control. And then having the spirit of the Tibetans is more important for the people of Tibet. Also Tibetans who are outside, that there is nothing like permanent [rtag pa], in the world, in the universe in terms of spiritual or in terms of politics. So the Tibetans have the truth behind their struggle. So the truth will ultimately prevail. No matter how long it will take. So the Tibetan spirit of keeping the struggle alive, that’s [more] important than some of the small cultural, or some of the differences or the . . . or some of the other aspects, food habits and dress. They are important to have the identity, but they are not the real issue behind . . . the truth behind the Tibetan struggle. The truth of the Tibetan struggle needs to be passed on to successive generations. The law of truth will ultimately prevail in favor of Tibetans.

Also implicit in this statement that so articulately expresses what I am calling a “beyond practice” approach to culture is the idea that being Tibetan is or should be linked with one’s commitment to the Tibetan nation. One might speculate that this idea has become more pronounced among Tibetans in the West, those who are perceived as most in danger of losing their culture. However, I heard this same sentiment frequently expressed in India, where, we saw above, authentic Tibetan identity is still assumed. Tibetans in India are taught from a very young age that they are Tibetan, that they are refugees, and that they are representatives of their lost homeland in exile. This identification is so strong that I heard many stories like the following one from a young informant raised in south India. Dondup told me that he did not know until he went to school at the Tibetan Children’s Village, around the age of seven, that he did not live in Tibet. There he met recent arrivals, children who had made the journey from Tibet to India to receive an education. When he learned that they were from Tibet he was confused because he didn’t identify with them, “They didn’t look like us, they didn’t talk like us, they had red cheeks.” In his essay “My Kind of Exile”6 (2001), Tenzin Tsundue, the young exile poet and activist living in India, also described the way Tibetans are taught about being refugees in India: We were often told that we were refugees and that we all bore a big “R” on our foreheads. It didn’t make much sense to us, we only wished the teacher would hurry up and finish his talk and not keep us standing in the hot sun, with our


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oiled hair. For a very long time I sincerely believed that we were a special kind of people with an “R” on our foreheads. (1)

As seen in Chapter 3, part of identity construction in exile is intense identification with the lost homeland of Tibet. One young Tibetan man I interviewed in India told me that he thinks those born in exile have stronger patriotic feelings about Tibet than newcomers. Although I was at first taken aback by his assertion, after some reflection I think one could say that because of Tibet’s place in the education of young Tibetan exiles, their attachment to it as an idea is not complicated by the complex reality experienced by those who grew up in Tibet in the post-1959 era. Indeed, exile educational institutions impart an idealized Tibet of pristine landscapes populated with animals, flowers, and especially with happy people free from the yoke of Chinese oppression. This romanticized portrayal is necessarily paired with the darkness of Chinese rule, which indeed, is the reason for their exile. Images of Chinese brutality are set against the idyll of pre-1950s Tibet (cf. Lukas et al. 1998). Another Tibetan exile raised in India wrote of his realizations of the process of construction of exile Tibetan identity when he went “home” to his parents’ hometown of Gyelthang in Tibet and was confronted with a radically divergent Tibetanness than that he was raised with in India: It dawned on me that we belonged not to different systems but to different enclosures, different whole realities. The chasm between us was immense. I was from the outside—wherever Tibetan exiles lived. China was the adversary, a cosmic one, a central point of reference in our self-definition, built on the premise of exile. The sad truth was that the occupation of Tibet, that determining reality for us, lay outside the angle of vision of my cousin and many Gyelthang folk. It was not that they were pro-China or un- or anti-Tibet, rather, the political discourse that defined us did not have the same significance or even registered minutely for them. (Tseten 2000: 121)

Tseten points out that the central focus of Tibetan exile identity is built on the fact of exile and all that this presupposes about Tibet’s history and present situation. Tseten, in the act of return, was confronted with the reality of a real place enmeshed with a complex set of relationships that for him as a child was primarily an idea. In this, I agree with Bishop (1989) and Lopez (1998) that Tibet has become deterritorialized, separated from its geographical boundaries both for Westerners and also for many Tibetan exiles, particularly those who

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are “born refugees.” As such, for many Tibetans born in exile inhabiting a particular diasporic location has become less important than nationalistic identification with Tibet. In light of this “dislocation” and “deterritorialization,” migration becomes a very important issue because it can be justified as helping the Tibetan cause and, conversely, excoriated because it undermines it. In this way, the debate about migration to the West highlights contemporary ideas about Tibetan identity, particularly those that call forth notions of “culture” and “nation.”

Attitudes Toward Citizenship DeVoe’s (1987) research established the importance of statelessness to Tibetan refugee identity in exile (see Chapter 4). I speculated that with record numbers of Tibetans adopting U.S. citizenship after the establishment of the TUSRP, attitudes about holding foreign citizenship would have changed over the last decades. However, in the course of field research in India, in interviews, conversations, and perhaps most concretely in the survey, I found that many Tibetans still maintain negative views of taking other citizenships. For example, one twenty-eight-year-old male born in Tibet stated, “I consider those Tibetans who are becoming citizens of other countries stupid and selfish. They don’t have any feeling towards their own nation [Tibet].” These responses typically referred to a lack of nationalistic feeling. Linked to the idea of a concern for Tibet was the very prominent concern about the numbers of Tibetans in Tibet itself, and occasionally the paucity of Tibetans in exile. The Chinese practice of encouraging members of the ethnic Han majority to move into parts of Tibet and thus diminish the strength of the ethnic Tibetan population is very worrisome to people in exile. China offers higher wages and a more lenient childbearing policy to encourage Han migration (Department of Information and International Relations 2000: 33). The Dalai Lama has cited this as the most destructive policy of the People’s Republic of China. Eighteen respondents noted that the relative proportion of Tibetans in proportion to Han is shrinking, and that this is a reason for not adopting another citizenship. A twenty-seven-year-old woman born in Tibet wrote, “at the moment Tibetans are an insignificant minority in the world in terms of population and Chinese are doing everything possible for birth control and to decrease the Tibetan population. We in the free world must and should think about our nation.”7 These responses reflect deep ambivalences about Tibetans adopting foreign citizenship. Many of the responses in the survey are similar to a debate that


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appeared over thirty years ago in the letters to the editor pages of the Tibetan Review. In the May 1978 edition, Tsering Dorjee Wagkhang of Belleville, Canada, wrote a letter in defense of his fellow Canadian Tibetans, who had apparently encountered criticism during a trip to India from other Tibetans who reacted negatively to their having adopted Canadian citizenship. Wagkhang described the benefits of citizenship, which included the ability to travel freely, increased employment opportunities, and increased involvement in the political process of the adopted country. He further remarked that his feelings about Tibet had not altered: “I enjoy my life here very much, but that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten Tibet and the fellow Tibetans. When it comes to Tibet, I would rather be back there like we used to be way back before the Communist Chinese took over. For that, I am determined to fight along with my fellow people till our demand is fulfilled” (Wagkhang 1978: 22). The following month’s Tibetan Review contained two responses to Wagkhang’s letter. In the first response, Taga wrote that If . . . Tibetans gain by adopting new citizenship in rights and privileges denied to the stateless refugees, the very purpose of following the Dalai Lama in exile to struggle for an independent Tibet is defeated. It would have been better to have stayed in Tibet and adopt Chinese citizenship. Adopting a new citizenship and claiming concern for Tibet and Tibetans, as most of the Tibetans in America, Switzerland, Germany etc. do, is sheer hypocrisy. A concerned Tibetan should always remain Tibetan. (Taga 1978: 24)

In the same issue, K. Dhondup (a founder of the Tibetan Communist Party) wrote, Tibet will die the day there are Tibetans but only Chinese, Indian, British, American, Canadian, Swiss, German, French and Italian Tibetans. Adopting a new citizenship for convenience is practical. But it is not nationalistic. One Tibetan adopting an American citizenship is excusable. One hundred Tibetans adopting new citizenships at a time when one’s own motherland is under foreign occupation is a national disaster. (Dhondup 1978: 24)

For many Tibetans it also seems that adopting citizenship is linked with the idea of losing or diluting race or ethnicity; this may be because the term used in Tibetan for “race” (mi rigs) is also the word for ethnic group and nationality. For example, one twenty-seven-year-old male born in Tibet wrote, “This can prove detrimental to the demise of the Tibetan race and culture. If there is in-

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crease in the present trend this can lead to total destruction of Tibet and Tibetans. This is my feeling.”8 However, many people also connected taking citizenship with intermarriage: “It is Tibetans’ weakness, no one is forcing Tibetans to become other countries citizenship. But they first make girlfriend or boyfriend and marry with them, then they don’t want to be Tibetans or [have] citizenship of Tibet because of Tibet’s occupation by Red Chinese. They also don’t believe that Tibet will become an independent country.” This response, written by a twentyyear-old male born in Tibet, points out that intermarriage is a common route by which Tibetans do eventually adopt other citizenship. All of these responses reflect a deep concern with the Tibetan nation and its future. Still, attitudes toward taking citizenship are not uniformly negative. There was a strong minority of people who remarked on the benefits of such a practice. Many people indicated that it was “up to each individual” to decide what course of action to take. Others conveyed the perspective that citizenship “was just a rubber stamp,” without any inherent meaning. Several people explicitly noted that no matter what citizenship a person had, they were still Tibetan. This view often was articulated by those educated in Tibetan exile schools. This could have as much to do with Tibetans’ understandings of themselves as modern political subjects, as it is related to a pragmatic attitude stemming from experience with their stateless status in India. Others noted that Tibetans are, according to the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, eligible for dual citizenship.9 Many of those with positive attitudes toward adopting foreign citizenship said it was acceptable if Tibetan identity was maintained. Another qualification was that citizenship is positive if one works for Tibet. For example, one nineteen-year-old woman, born in Ladakh, India, wrote, “I haven’t any special opinion for becoming the citizens of other countries. If they do good for [the] Tibetan community then it’s well. So I always appreciate and [am] thankful.” Another respondent, a Tibetan-born male aged twenty-seven, wrote: There is no problem from a human rights point of view. However, at this moment when our government and people are in exile because of the Chinese occupation it is sad to see people becoming other countries’ citizens and not working for our own people and nation. One group, even if they adopt other countries’ citizenship but are taking part in the exile administration and are working for Tibet’s cause and this is good.10


Expanding the Diaspora, Transforming Tibetanness

The following quote from a twenty-seven-year-old male born in India shows how reaching a political solution to the Tibet problem is at the forefront of many people’s minds. For many, the benefits and problems associated with citizenship have primarily to do with achieving this goal. We also see here how culture, religion, and identity are indeed deeply linked with politics: Freedom is what we urgently need. Once we get freedom there are around six million Tibetans, so no way we are going to lose our nation or identity. Then as natural everywhere someone wants to make such decision but it depends on number. How many. As far as individual is concerned, if an important Tibetan becomes citizen of another country we are losing a lot. We are missing his time, energy, power and everything. But, it’s even worse if he or she forgets Tibet from their heart then one day there will [only] be Tibetans like—old, children, handicapped, poor and useless. Because one who is good for something is gone and he or she is no more a Tibetan The question is our religion, culture, identity, language; if we can preserve this without being together then I don’t care if Tibetan goes to another universe.

When this young man says, “I don’t care if Tibetan goes to another universe,” he is alluding to an expanded view of the world, one that has moved beyond the high mountain geography of Tibet, or the Himalayan range. For me, this statement echoes that of other young Tibetans who told me that it does not matter where they live, as long as they can keep their Tibetan identity—and all that that entails—vibrant and alive in what they recognize as an increasingly globalized world.

Conclusion While many Tibetans view citizenship as linked with race and ethnicity, and remaining stateless as a political commitment to regaining their lost homeland, I do believe there is an emerging perspective, especially among young Tibetans, that views citizenship as the prerogative of the state—and while it has everyday consequences for the people who move within the state or across its borders, they do not see it as a category that defines or limits an individual’s subjectivity or way of perceiving herself or himself in the world. Further, some Tibetans are recognizing that citizenship can provide not just a remedy for the constrained mobility of statelessness, but also an avenue for Tibetans to express themselves politically in ways that might serve the Tibetan cause.

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The next section of the book focuses on Tibetans in the United States. Significantly, the themes that have run through Part II of the book continue to be relevant to Tibetan experiences in the United States. In Part III, we will see how the concerns with culture, politics, and economics play out in national and local contexts, in the United States generally, and in New Mexico in particular.


A New Home in Diaspora: The First Years of the TUSRP, 1992–1996

Introduction LHAMO ARRIVED IN NEW MEXICO as part of the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP) in early 1993. I interviewed her in her two-story stucco house on a warm fall day in 1999, drinking tea, as her young sons did their homework while eating a snack. When I asked her about how her family made the decision to apply for a visa through the TUSRP, she said, “Actually, it was a hard decision for us. We had to go back and forth, back and forth.” Initially, she and her husband Gyatso decided that he should apply; he then submitted his application. Gyatso held a senior post in the government-in-exile. The couple decided that it would be better if Lhamo went to the United States while her husband continued to work for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) until they were reunited in the United States. They also realized that Lhamo’s job as a nurse made it possible for her to continue her career in the United States after recertification. The most difficult aspect of the process was being separated from her two young children, even though she knew they would be well taken care of in India with their father and in boarding school. Lhamo spoke with me about what it was like arriving in New Mexico:

I remember the first day I arrived at the airport. I mean I think everybody had the best sponsor, but my sponsor, she had everything planned, and she came to the airport with a big flower bouquet. And then when I reached the room, . . . I think she tried to get bits and pieces from Anasuya [the original organizer of the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico, the nonprofit organization created to organize local efforts] and everyone else, how we live in India, what we eat, what we 165

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drink. She had different types of teas. I . . . it was so emotional I cried, I walked in and I was like “Oh my god.” She had all the airmails ready so that I could just write. It was hard, you know your heart is there. And I just could not sleep all night. And then, that same night my husband was [returning to India from a trip abroad], and then my brother and he called, and I did not talk, I was just crying. It was so hard.

Lhamo was among thirty-three “anchor relatives” who arrived in New Mexico between 1992 and 1993. Twenty-two of these individuals were male and eleven were female. The Tibetan Community Assistance Project conducted a survey in March–April 1995 that included 784 of 929 immigrants in the TUSRP (those in the “U.S. Relative” category were not included in the survey). The survey examined educational level, marital status and number of children, employment, and secondary migration. “Of the 929 newcomers 377 (40.6%) are women and 552 (59.4%) are men. 525 have no children, 91 have one, 127 have 2, 100 have 3, 49 have 4, 25 have 5 and 12 have 6 or more children. The larger families tend to occur among the older age groups” (Nassar and Taklha 1995: 17). Many of the “anchor relatives,” like Lhamo, were parents: twenty-six among the thirty-three in New Mexico had children. “Anchor relatives” had to leave their children behind with spouses, or often in boarding school or with other relatives, while they made the transition to life in the United States. The TUSRP was designed this way, with a “head of household” arriving first to enable individuals to establish a solid base—economic and otherwise—in order to smooth the transition for the entire family. Residency permits and work authorization were immediately granted, and, as discussed in Chapter 4, the immigrants arrived in the United States with prearranged employment. The Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico arranged sponsors and organized English as a Second Language training and other services individuals needed to make the transition easier. Initially, Tibetans expected the separation of their families to last two years. Delays of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) prolonged that period, in many cases to as long as four years. In a report to the North American Tibetan Conference in 1995 Lorna Burgess, an attorney and member of the Tibetan Resettlement Project in Salt Lake City, Utah, gave a detailed explanation of the present status of Tibetan petitions for family reunification for categories 2a and 2b for both India and Nepal. She explained that when the first Tibetans filed for family reunification after their arrival into the U.S. under the auspices of TUSRP, the waiting period was approximately

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2 years. At that time the immigration quota was 114,200 worldwide. Then with the amnesty and legalization program [provided under the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA)] the number of cases increased dramatically. As of January 1995, the number of people waiting in line for category 2a (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) was over 1 million people. The waiting period for 2a has increased to approximately 3 years. Category 2b (unmarried children 21 years of age and over) is slower than 2a. At present the waiting period for this category is approximately 5 years. (Tibetan Community Assistance Project 1995: 4)

Lhamo, for example, arrived in March 1993 and was not reunited with her husband and children until October 1997. This period of separation took its toll on individuals and families. The idea behind this arrangement—sending an “anchor relative” to resettle and gain a foothold in U.S. society—was that individuals could more quickly become economically self-sufficient. The emotional burden of being without one’s family in a place much different than India or Nepal was difficult. Some turned to alcohol or gambling or extramarital affairs. For all the “anchor relatives,” however, this period was marked by becoming oriented in the U.S. workforce, saving money to enable family reunification, and learning the many tasks essential to living productively in the United States.

Sponsors As discussed in Chapter 2, part of the methodological design of this project was to broaden the delineation of the “community” studied beyond ethnic Tibetans and to examine the local, national, and transnational contexts in which cultural processes take place. The sponsors of the TUSRP were critical to the initial reception and resettlement of the 1,000 Tibetans who arrived in the United States beginning in April 1992 and continuing through September 1993, and they remain a part of this extended community. I interviewed five of the more than twenty-five people who sponsored Tibetans in New Mexico. Because immigration in the United States is designed around family reunification, the vast majority of immigrants to this country require sponsorship. Sponsoring an immigrant is a large responsibility, requiring sponsors to file an affidavit of support with the INS stating that they will not allow the immigrant to become a public charge.1 In the case of the TUSRP, sponsorship involved providing a home for the Tibetan for a period of time that ranged from several months up to a year, until he or she could become established.

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By the time I began interviewing people for this project in 1995, Tibetans had already been here two to three years. As I researched the establishment of the TUSRP, several people mentioned that some of the initial volunteers held a romanticized view of Tibetans and were then disillusioned when they discovered that Tibetans were real people with the problems every new immigrant faces. The help Tibetans needed often involved getting oriented to U.S. society— learning how to drive, acquiring English-language skills, needing rides to the bank or other such tasks. As several informants noted, people that expected all Tibetans to be exemplary Buddhists or highly realized spiritual beings quickly fell by the wayside. When I interviewed Tibetan sponsors or others closely involved with the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico in 1995 and 1996, I found an altruistic group of people, to be sure, but people who were clear-eyed about the humanity of the Tibetans they had helped to resettle in New Mexico. They had a number of things in common: first, many had a previous connection to Tibet. All those I interviewed had previously traveled to Tibet. Second, although they revered the Dalai Lama and greatly respected Tibetan Buddhist traditions, only one was a practicing Buddhist. All of the sponsors that I interviewed had great affection for the Tibetans that they sponsored and had come to be their friends. Furthermore, they displayed unfailing interest in seeing the Tibetans become self-supporting, productive members of U.S. society. Bobbi Nassar, a professor of social work at Yeshiva University in New York, conducted research on the TUSRP in 1995 to ascertain the level of adjustment of Tibetans in the United States during the first years after resettlement (Nassar n.d.; Nassar and Taklha 1995). Of the preexisting job skills of the [920] people included in the study, “39 (4%) did not have job skills, 210 (23%) had nontransferable skills, 190 (21%) had entry level skills, 173 (19%) had jobs that involved technical skills, 147 (16%) were students, and 161 (17%) were professionals” (Nassar and Taklha 1995: 18). The report analyzes employment of the immigrants once they reached the United States (as of March–April 1995) and found that just over half were working in entry-level jobs, such as housekeeping; over onethird were working in jobs that required technical skills, such as data entry or as nursing assistants; less than 5 percent had found professional employment; and another small percentage were full-time students (18). In a telephone interview, Dr. Nassar said that for the two groups of Tibetans defined by the legislation—those who remained impoverished in India and those with education and skills—initial adjustment fell into classic patterns as-

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sociated with immigrants. The older, less educated people were having a harder time learning English, but were learning new skills. In the early stages of the project many of these people were experiencing the most improved status: they received more training, they were more “fussed over,” and initially they were adjusting better than the younger, more highly skilled group. The younger group initially experienced more loss of status because “in India they were on top of the game.” After this initial period of readjustment, Nassar noted, they rebounded and were taking off, doing better and better. When I asked her how Tibetans were affected by the romanticization of Tibet and Tibetans, she said that Tibetans were often surprised, and responded cautiously, “because once the outsiders find out that Tibetans are human, [the Tibetans] worry that others will be too upset and disappointed.” But mostly she called it a positive predisposition. “Tibetans are so proud of the Dalai Lama, that he, their wonderful leader, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. That he is recognized and admired by Westerners” (Bobbi Nassar, personal communication, February 13, 1997). The visit of the Dalai Lama to New Mexico in 1991 also galvanized support for the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico. All of the sponsors and organizers mentioned the Dalai Lama as an inspirational force for their activism and involvement with the TUSRP. One sponsor and organizer described how her family’s involvement in the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico followed a trip to Tibet: And, I think it was in 1990 or 1991 that my daughter saw a flyer for the Tibetan Resettlement Project. Anasuya Weil, who was the first volunteer [and] executive director, really created this organization. I don’t think there would be Tibetans resettling in New Mexico if she hadn’t been willing to do a tremendous amount of work. She had recently moved to Albuquerque, her husband was a doctor, she had spent time in India, [and she had] heard about the 1990 Immigration Act that permitted the thousand visas for Tibetans to settle in America. And she thought that New Mexico was a natural, and it appeared that the existing Tibetan-related organizations in Santa Fe were not going to [help with the resettlement], at that time I think they were involved with the visit of the Dalai Lama. They just felt as though they had their hands full. So, she really picked up on the opportunity and sent out flyers and I think it was at Peacecraft [an Albuquerque store that sells imported items from around the world] or someplace along Central [Avenue] that [my daughter] saw this flyer. And it said: “If you’d like to help out Tibetans resettle.” And apparently I was the first person to call.

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She brought it home and I thought I, well, this looks like something we’re supposed to do because how many people in New Mexico have been to Tibet, I mean I guess there are quite a few. . . . So yes! Why not call? So I did and began by giving financial support to help them get started. . . . We did have some orientation for sponsors ahead of time. We met with other sponsors . . . and it was just a very enjoyable thing. We liked the Americans that we met through it and we really liked the Tibetans who came and felt that they enriched our lives a lot.

For most Tibetans, sponsors provided an initiation into U.S. society for their first months, and sometimes years, in the United States. Because of the small size of the Tibetan population prior to the establishment of the TUSRP, Tibetans’ immigrant status required that the project find sponsors who were not, by and large, ethnically Tibetan. The ability to find sponsors for the project attests to the positive attributes associated with Tibetans in the United States, even prior to their presence in the country. Sponsors put out a welcome mat for Tibetans, but the larger challenges of employment and adjustment to an “American” way of life necessarily were the primary focus of the first years of Tibetan resettlement in the United States.

Economics: Immigrants and Work in the U.S. Economy During the course of this research, several people remarked that Tibetans must have come to New Mexico because it looks like Tibet. (Likewise, when I informed people that the largest U.S. resettlement site outside of New York City was the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, people suggested that Tibetans liked it there because of the cold winters.) The truth is, even with the cluster site design of the TUSRP, there has been secondary migration and Tibetans tend to go where there are jobs for them (see Nassar and Taklha 1995: 14). Most of the early press articles related to the TUSRP note that Tibetan immigration as a result of the 1990 Immigration Act allowed the entry of Tibetans as “immigrants” as opposed to “refugees,” highlighting the fact that although they had immediate work authorization, they did not receive federal funding. One of the primary concerns of the TUSRP was finding a job for each of the 1,000 initial immigrants before they arrived in the country. Much of this work was done by the local resettlement organizations established at each site, such as the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico. Interviewees who had worked on the TUSRP in India described how the U.S. embassy sometimes re-

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jected applicants during their interviews if the job guarantee letter called for someone who was fluent in English and the candidate was not fluent. Another job would have to be found, or the requirements for the prospective employee changed. This was undoubtedly the most challenging organizational task of the TUSRP, yet several organizers commented during interviews that it did not turn out to be as difficult as they had expected. An article in The New Mexican, Santa Fe’s daily newspaper, showed how one prospective employer’s previous connection with Tibetans led him to offer employment: Jeremy Morrelli already has an international crew at this wood-working shop on Paseo de Peralta. He is from London and he has two Americans, a Mexican and an Argentinean working for him. He’s looking forward to adding a Tibetan to his team. . . . “My experience with Tibetans is that they’re really hardworking and cheerful. They’re good people to have around,” he said. Tim Womack, customer service manager for Wild Oats [a natural grocery store chain,] also sees the Tibetans fitting in well with an already ethnically diverse group at the natural foods store. And he sees the benefits going both ways. “We like to work with all kinds of people and promote the idea that all kinds of lifestyles are OK,” he said. “We can learn about people from other parts of the world as well as learning about ourselves in the process.” When asked about offering jobs when many Santa Feans need work, he replied, “We’re dealing with a global business environment now. We need to be good world neighbors, and people have to get in step with that. I fully believe these people will come over and work very hard. I don’t see it as a conflict.” (Fauntleroy 1992: 16–17)

Even during an economic downturn, the large majority of Tibetans were able to obtain employment. Although the mystique that surrounds Tibet and the willingness of certain employers to help those in need may have helped Tibetans gain employment initially, Tibetans, like other migrants, had no choice but to work long hours, sometimes in multiple jobs, for low wages, in order to get by. Some Tibetans relayed difficulties they faced on the job to me, mostly with employers who seemed impatient with Tibetans’ lack of social or cultural knowledge about work in the United States. Hard work has enabled them to keep their jobs and gain references for future employment, yet many who held professional or administrative jobs in India still must work for low wages in the retail and service sectors.

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Fearing the Legacy of Dependence It may be that the foreign policy considerations that framed the 1990 legislation and stipulated that Tibetans would enter the country as “immigrants” with immediate work authorization, rather than as “refugees,” had a positive influence on the long-term economic prospects of most Tibetans. Most Tibetans were working within one month after arrival in the United States. This contrasted with the fear expressed by the editor of the Tibetan Review, who attended a conference sponsored by the TUSRP in 1992 and reported that some people connected with the project thought that American sponsors were spoiling the new immigrants like nobody’s business. Some people tried, but not very successfully, to reassure them that it was more than enough for them to have undertaken to find temporary housing and entry-level jobs for them. There is really no need for them to worry if their charges seem to be having some difficulty in adjusting with the new environment. Tibetans who came to America before them did very well for themselves without anyone spoonfeeding them. If any of the immigrants themselves demand more and more, it can clearly be seen as an extension of their sponsor-dependent mentality, whereby while in India or Nepal they were used to feeding the same old sad tale to all gullible Westerners, thus building a formidable army of sponsors. (Wangyal 1992: 1)

Similarly, a TUSRP organizer in the United States told me during an interview that some among the 500 Tibetans who were in the United States prior to the implementation of the TUSRP expressed concern that the program would foster dependency: They felt like they were happy to be helpful at particular points in time, and certainly would not negate their needs. But their feeling was sort of like, we had to work hard [to get where we are] in the United States and we don’t really feel the need to support you exorbitantly past that. In fact, there were definitely discussions prior to the resettlement project being here . . . that their concern was it would create dependency. And that there was already a tendency for Tibetans to be very dependent because of the nature of the refugee situation in India and Nepal and that this was just an extension of that and that they shouldn’t get so much help.

Dorsh Marie DeVoe (1987) addresses the subject of Tibetans and their relationship with Western aid agencies in India (see also Klieger 1992; see Frechette

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2004 on Tibetans in Nepal). DeVoe describes sponsorship as an extension of the chö yon (patron-priest) system in pre-1959 Tibet: There were two main systems, feudal and patron-priest, in which giving, receiving, and returning took place. Essentially, the Tibetan household and local economies relied on networks of exchange, “a web of interlocking claims and obligations between the giver and the recipient” (Ekvall 1964: 156–157). It is very clear that lay offerings, for example, were essential for the monastical community to survive, and hence served an important, sanctified social function. The act of offering was, moreover, a value bluntly correlated with one’s prestige. (DeVoe 1987: 57)

DeVoe examines the donor/recipient relationship between Tibetans and Western donors, looking at individuals as representatives of aid agencies rather than agencies as a whole, in light of the history of gift-giving in Tibetan society and in terms of Tibetan psychosocial attitudes toward giving and receiving. She examines why this had been a satisfying long-term relationship for all parties involved during the time of her fieldwork (1977–1978). She concludes that Tibetans are model aid recipients and examines the psychosocial factors present in Tibetan culture that serve to nurture beneficial long-term associations with donors. “These include belief in karma that philosophizes containment of ambition and contentment with status quo; cultural boundaries discouraging achievement by prescribing Tibetan-acceptable and limited definitions of ‘success’; and a normative ideal of and socialization for dependency” (DeVoe 1987: 78–79). During my fieldwork I was aware of the ways sponsorship continues to have a large effect on the lives of Tibetans in India. I was approached numerous times by young primary school–aged children hopeful for sponsorship; a man in his twenties approached me looking for a sponsor for his girlfriend’s sister to attend college. Numerous Tibetan friends told me of sponsors that had supported them for years. Westerners I met spoke of sponsorship as well. The stories often depicted Westerners duped by Tibetans into giving support that was not really needed because the Tibetan had other sponsors, or was gainfully employed. So although it is clear that aid agencies and sponsor-receiver relationships are highly important in Tibetan exile society, there is some discomfort, at least among certain individuals, with these practices, as is reflected in the Tibetan Review editorial quoted above. In interviews, informal conversation, and in the responses to my survey of attitudes toward migration to the West, a number of Tibetans expressed frustration

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with the difficulty of achieving economic or educational success in India without the aid of sponsors or some other kind of outside help. Regarding a question about the benefits of increased migration to the West, one survey respondent, a twenty-three-year-old woman born in India, wrote, “It has [enabled] people . . . to become financially independent and contribute to our community rather than [be] dependent on foreign grants and aid.” This discomfort with dependency was a thread that ran through many conversations. Tibetans expressed dismay over the arbitrariness and potential abuse of a system where individuals seek sponsors outside of an institutional context; however, many institutions I encountered, such as the Tibetan Children’s Village and the Buddhist Institute of Dialectics–Sarah Branch, did have sponsorship programs that were administered by the institution itself. Another notion about work in the United States, from the Tibetan perspective, that had filtered back to India and was prominent during the time of my fieldwork was that doing menial labor was not nearly as demeaning in the United States as it was felt to be in India. As one survey respondent wrote, “Money value is much bigger in the West and all work [is] respected equally.” Several young Tibetans told me that while they would be ashamed to work in a restaurant in India, they would be happy to do such labor in the United States.2 One Tibetan spoke about employment limitations and perceptions of employment and status in the United States, comparing them with his experience in India. He stated, “I am not frustrated with my work. Because in America there is not job discrimination. If one is a sweeper, he is a sweeper for his job. But in our Tibetan government if he is a sweeper, then they will look down like that. It should not be [like that]. . . . Everybody, laborer and farmer and everyone should work together and then they form a country.” Just as “sponsorship” is different in the U.S. context compared with the Indian context, Tibetans understand “dependency” in different ways, depending on the societal context. Although some may be uncomfortable with the system as it has developed in India, it may be seen as a necessary part of getting by there. By contrast, in the United States, perhaps in part because of the attitude of previous Tibetan immigrants, the fact that Tibetans were given immediate work authorization, and different understandings about the status imparted by “menial” labor, Tibetans quickly developed a different attitude toward work and dependency. In fact, I will suggest that the interview excerpts quoted above show that for many Tibetans, immigration to the United States is viewed as a way to escape what are seen as conservative Tibetan views about social posi-

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tion, labor, and gender roles. In the following section, I will examine migration and work more closely by looking specifically at Tibetans in New Mexico.

Employment and Tibetans in New Mexico Regardless of initial skill level, most Tibetans had to settle for low-paying, entry-level jobs upon arrival in New Mexico. Santa Fe especially relies on tourism and is primarily a service economy. Tibetans were able to easily find jobs in the service sector. During an interview with Jamie, one of the organizers of the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico, we discussed how the TUSRP went about finding employers who would offer letters of support to Tibetans prior to their arrival in New Mexico. Jamie described the process this way: I found out that at least in Santa Fe, the majority of the people that were willing to hire were not the big people . . . like Wal-Mart wasn’t interested, you know Jewel-Osco wasn’t interested, all the major chains weren’t interested because they had equal opportunity employment issues. And . . . they do it by the book. And they didn’t care if someone was . . . whatever, you know, their particular plight. I found smaller businesses, ones that were independently owned and managed, and who had had some contact with the Tibetans, were really strong supporters of the Tibetans. We had one [contact] who actually at the time was president of the Lodger’s Association in New Mexico, which is all the hotels and restaurants, and he had actually been at the Dalai Lama’s talks and had been helping out Rancho Encantado at the time of the Dalai Lama’s stay there. And so he was really enthusiastic and called a lot of different hotels and set up appointments. So a lot of it was really networking. I would say, realistically, maybe only a third of the Santa Fe employers were really open to it, but the ones that were, were really strongly committed to doing something, and so it was very easy to actually create jobs for 24, 25 people. I think Anasuya probably found a similar thing. You know American Home Furnishings was a major employer. And Hyatt Regency Hotels, and the principal of Hyatt Regency Hotels is a friend of the Dalai Lama. So you know it was nice, there are some very nice connections. And once Tibetans were here, they were really good workers. I would say for the most part, and that allowed employers to feel really enthusiastic about that; as they left jobs many of them got recommendations so they could move on to something else.

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Despite the worries about dependency or continued dependency on outside sources of aid, it seems that not only in New Mexico, but all around the country, the vast majority of Tibetans arriving under the auspices of the TUSRP were fully employed within a month or two of their arrival. In Santa Fe especially, the majority of jobs were and continue to be had in the service and retail sectors: Tibetans found work in hotels, natural food grocery stores, retail chains, restaurants, and spas. They also found work as nannies and as domestic help for an affluent segment of Santa Fe society. A few highly skilled Tibetans opened businesses and worked as accountants. Interviews with a number of Tibetans who had jobs with high levels of responsibility in the CTA, such as accountants, settlement leaders, and even CTA department secretaries, as well as employees of nongovernmental exile institutions such as schools, show they were working primarily in the retail and service sectors. Approximately five years after their arrival, a few continued to be employed at salary levels that required them to work two or more jobs to support their families. Several people who made the sacrifice of leaving behind meaningful work in India described doing so in terms of securing a future for their children. Dhondup, a forty-seven-year-old Tibetan living in Santa Fe at the time of our interview in 2001, stated the following as he was describing his motivations for coming to the United States. Now, [as far as] the future of the children are concerned . . . this is my main aim: that they should get a better job. Because they are qualified with what the Americans are doing because they are sent to the same schools where the Americans are studying. They should get a good, better job for that. And my prosperity and my happiness all depend upon my children. My aim upon coming here is to educate them in a better way, in a better condition. And it’s an advanced country, each and every family is advanced, if the children are brilliant they can pick up each and every thing here. And at the same time I hope that they can compete with the American students here. Then their future is very prosperous and happy over here.

Dhondup’s perspective echoes that of other Tibetans who told me that their primary motivation for migration was to broaden educational and other opportunities for their children. Dhondup realized that although his work and social life might be lacking in the United States, the reward would be the success of his children. Yet some people (notably men) did express or exhibit, if not frustration, at least nostalgia when comparing the work they did in India with the kinds of jobs that are open to them here.

A New Home in Diaspora


Another spoke about his working life in the United States, but also expressed relish at learning about a new culture and said that workplaces were an important venue for such learning. The following quote is from an interview with Pema, a forty-year-old Tibetan man living in Santa Fe who was working two jobs, one in the retail sector and one in a restaurant. In India he was employed by the CTA. In the United States, Pema’s wife also has two jobs in order to ensure a good education for their three children. pema: I enjoyed it when I was in India, my job was easier, it’s more responsibility than here, but physically it’s more easier. . . . I expect that I am not able to get that job in the United States. And what I have to do in the United States, I almost know that since [my wife] is already here and lots of my friends who came to the United States first . . . and I know that that I am going to find this kind of job in the United States. julia: So you had time to prepare? pema: Yes, I had time to prepare so I didn’t feel, “Oh, why I am doing this? I have done that, now why I am backward? Everyone has a promotion and I got a demotion?” [laughing]. So. I didn’t feel that much about that. Now, as an American here, so I feel like a job is a job, no matter what you do, but it’s [only] your job. . . . When I first moved to the United States I thought I would only be working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and one job. And what I thought that will be most [ambition?] for me and I can keep my kids and everything will be happy with that money. When I came, moved to the United States, that was not reality. Especially when you have kids, you have to think about their futures. So it’s a little hard. I didn’t expect that I [would] have to do three jobs, or two jobs and [work] seven days [a week]. I didn’t expect that and so that’s a little hard. So I always feel like my past life I enjoyed it. And now I am not enjoying my life personally. . . . I am always working. Most of the time I am spending my time working. But then, I go, oh yeah, I still have all this stuff, and my kids are going to such a great school, I should be happy with that. And I try to reconcile myself [laughing].

Anecdotally, in India, when people would tell me about a particular relative in the United States and I would ask what work they were doing, they would often not know how their brothers and sisters were employed. Curious about this phenomenon, I asked a Tibetan friend in Dharamsala about it and she ventured that

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since many Tibetans had menial jobs in the United States, friends and relatives in India refrained from asking Tibetans living in the United States specifics about their jobs. Deckyi (whom I introduced in Chapter 6), whose entire family was residing in New York and was anxious for her to come stateside, told me that she did not want to do the kind of work her siblings were doing (she had a college degree and a job in a Tibetan institution) and so was looking for an educational route to migration to the United States Early on, Edward Bednar (whose crucial role in the passage of the legislation and the creation of the TUSRP was discussed in Chapter 5) expressed his concerns about work in the United States and maintaining Tibetan culture. According to an article in the Utne Reader, Bednar is concerned that the refugees’ struggle for money, sharpened by a higher cost of living than they are used to and by the prevalence of materialism in America, may work against the purpose of the project’s intent to transmit Tibetan culture to new generations and advance Tibet’s cause. “If the Tibetan newcomers keep getting the message that money is, after all, really the bottom line here, how long will they be able to maintain their traditional spirituality and [their] community-oriented way of life?” he asks. (Zurkhang 1993: 95–96)

I found Bednar’s concern reflected in the beliefs of Tibetans still in India about their counterparts in the United States. Many perceived the concern with money and materialism as highly detrimental to retaining Tibetan cultural values. My own perspective, however, is that most Tibetans do not become obsessed with materialism and achieving a certain lifestyle in the United States. It is the quest for survival and internalizing social norms concerning what is necessary for life in the United States that compels Tibetans to work hard. Many Tibetans in India could not comprehend how hard people, especially immigrants, must work to make a living wage in the United States. Additionally, the concern with providing broader opportunities for their children’s future, not attainment of material goods for the simple sake of attaining them, seems to inform the motivation to work.

Cultural Preservation and the Expansion of the Diaspora The most dominant theme in press articles relating to the TUSRP from its establishment through the period of family reunification and beyond has been Tibetan cultural preservation in the United States. Press coverage of Tibetans in New Mexico, considering the small numbers of Tibetans in the state (origi-

A New Home in Diaspora


nally twenty-five or so families; after family reunification and secondary migration the total in 2002 was around 110 people), has been great (e.g., Fauntleroy 1992; Horton 1996; MacNeil 1996; Miller 1997; Wessell 1997).3 On the other side of the cultural preservation coin is what I have called the idea of cultural dissemination. Present in the articles is the idea that Americans have a lot to learn from their new Tibetan neighbors. An examination of this idea demonstrates how the presence of Tibetans in the United States is shaped by both the current and historical American concerns with issues like labor, as seen above, but also and perhaps more importantly, with ideas linked to the mystique that surrounds Tibet and the idea that the preservation of Tibetan culture will benefit all humanity. It also speaks, somewhat optimistically, to the pluralist ideal of a United States that respects, encourages, and celebrates diversity. An analysis of national press articles that covered the arrival of Tibetans as part of the TUSRP shows that the political side of the Tibetans’ ambassadorial aims is somewhat in the background. Instead, the articles focus on the goal of Tibetans to preserve Tibetan culture in exile. Similar to the slippage between culture and nation discussed in Chapter 3, it is also present in press articles about Tibetans in the United States. However, it must be said that many of the articles make an effort to present the more politically charged topic of the current situation in Tibet. For example, one early article from the Valley Advocate of Springfield, Massachusetts, opens by quoting Tsewang Khangsar, a Tibetan then studying at the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts: We saw our leaders dragged into public meetings where they were beaten, accused, kicked, then finally shot. We had to walk across the Himalayas. We had to leave everything behind to make the Chinese believe we would return. At the age of 10 or 12 I had to beg to support my mother, brother and sister because they were ill from malnutrition, the change of climate, the journey, the stress. Others of our people had to stir up water from mudholes to fill their bellies, they had to cook their shoes and eat them. (Kraft 1991, in TUSRP n.d: 22)

The article describes the establishment of the TUSRP and its goal: “To help preserve the beleaguered ancient culture of Tibet, and free individual Tibetans from a holding pattern in India, 1,000 of those now living there will be brought to the United States beginning late this year” (22). This phrasing highlights cultural preservation, which has become imperative because of the current situation in Tibet. This stands in stark contrast to the concerns of culture loss

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associated with the TUSRP, which are expressed by many Tibetans both in India and in the United States. In this article, the TUSRP’s political goal is not mentioned. Other articles stressed that Tibetans, both individually and collectively, will strive to make Americans aware of their culture. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune profiles the Chagzoetsang family, the only Tibetans in Utah prior to the TUSRP: [Pema Chagzoetsang] is certain that all who do come will find the United States a land of opportunity unlike their country of Tibet, which has been occupied by Communist China since 1950. “The Chinese government said they wanted to liberate Tibet, but all that really meant was communism,” said Mr. Chagzoetsang, who fled to India with his older brothers in 1959. “China wanted to use Tibet for its resources and because it is a key military land.” (Garcia 1991, in TUSRP n.d.: 13)

The article states that newly arriving Tibetans will join together with the “lone Utah Tibetan family” to celebrate the New Year and commemorate March 10. The article adds, “they are also determined to create awareness of Tibetan culture” (13). The slippage between political awareness of Tibet’s plight and awareness of Tibet’s culture makes perfect sense in light of the rhetoric used by both Dharamsala and several key nation-states that are attempting to carry on overt political relationships with the Tibetan government-in-exile in the face of Chinese complaints about such relationships. In the face of the pervasive anti-immigrant sentiment that characterized the early 1990s, it is intriguing that Tibetan immigrants were often portrayed as assets to U.S. society. An article in the Boston Globe quotes Regina Lee, executive director of the state office for refugees and immigrants: “Tibetans bring with them a deeply rich and ancient culture and profound religious beliefs, which Americans will be fortunate to experience” (Blake 1991, in TUSRP n.d.: 11). This notion that the presence of Tibetans presents unique learning opportunities for their “American” neighbors is certainly ironic in light of concurrent attempts to pass English-only legislation and immigrant backlash in many parts of the country. Other articles sounded the same theme but were more limited in their suggestion of who would benefit from the presence of Tibetans. This quote, from an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, describes the coming of Tibetans to the Twin Cities: “For the Dadaks and other supporters, the Tibetans will be a rich source of ancient culture. [Dadak was one of the organizers of the

A New Home in Diaspora


TUSRP in Minnesota and is a Tibetan married to a non-Tibetan American woman.] . . . ‘Each single Tibetan (outside Tibet) is responsible for keeping the culture (alive),’ Dadak said. ‘People are concerned about Tibetan issues. People in Minnesota are respectful of other cultures’ ” (Tai 1991, in TUSRP n.d.: 29). A 1991 article in the Idaho Statesman quotes Tashi Dondup, the “only known Tibetan living in Idaho [prior to the TUSRP],” as suggesting that “ ‘This [the TUSRP] would give the community diversity and enrich it culturally’ ” (Rose 1991, in TUSRP n.d.: 30). The cultural preservationist project emerged early on as a priority of the Santa Fe Tibetans. An article by Sarah Horton that appeared in the Santa Fe Reporter profiles Tsewang Tenzin’s family, which was the first to be reunited in New Mexico under the TUSRP in 1996. Tsewang says he would eventually like to see a Tibetan cultural center and Sunday schools to teach children the Tibetan language. “For now, parents must stress the importance of those aspects,” says Tsewang. Since his children have arrived, Tsewang says, the TV has been the children’s acclimatization tool of choice. But in general, he says that his children’s commitment to the Tibetan culture is strong. And he plans regular visits to the Buddhist temple as well as traditional practices at home. Tsewang’s children are eager to meet their American peers. And as the first Tibetan children in the area, they are rising to the challenge of being cultural emissaries. “I’m excited to join my classes, to meet them and tell them about India and Tibet,” beams Lebsang [Lobsang] Phuntsok Tsawang [Tsewang] a 14year-old in jeans and a white brocaded shirt. Lebsang says he has brought with him Tibetan dresses, books and photos to share with his classmates at Ortiz Middle School this fall. “That is very important,” agrees the eldest, Dechen Wangmo Tsewang, 18, solemnly shaking her head. The children say they are pleased to be in Santa Fe. Their homecoming has only been marred by the sadness of a people in exile. “Santa Fe is better than India,” says Dechen. “But it is sad that I am a Tibetan and yet I have never been able to see Tibet.” (Horton 1996: 21)

These articles show that Tibetan cultural preservation is portrayed in a positive light. Moreover, there is a suggestion that Americans have something to learn from Tibetan immigrants. As we have seen, this idea has long been part of the romanticized Western discourse about Tibet and is also suggested by the Dalai

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Lama and other Tibetans. In addition, we begin to see one way Tibetans put into practice the mandate that they be ambassadors for Tibet.

Conclusion The first years of the TUSRP were largely characterized by the concerns outlined in previous chapters—culture, economics, and politics. Although an incredible amount of time and energy was devoted to making sure that Tibetans quickly gained financial footing in the United States, we also see how concerns about cultural preservation and loss, as well as the political goals of the TUSRP, were of great importance. Thus, a picture emerges of the ways in which Tibetan and American understandings of these phenomena differ and overlap in important respects. In the next chapter we will examine more closely the work of cultural preservation by Tibetans in Santa Fe and the fulfillment of their ambassadorial role. A focus on youth illuminates changing expressions of Tibetan identity. In this way, we examine new forms of Tibetanness that are emerging as the diaspora expands and a new generation of Tibetan youth comes of age.


“Culture Is Your Base Camp”: Tibetans in New Mexico, Youth, and Cultural Identity

Introduction ON MARCH 10, 1997, during the year that many of the families of the original “anchor relatives” finally began to arrive in New Mexico, Tibetans in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe organized and attended a commemoration of the 1959 Lhasa uprising that led to the flight of the Dalai Lama to India. As Tibetans convened in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, they knew that their compatriots in Delhi, Dharamsala, New York, Boulder, and Paris would be gathering with their snow-lion–emblazoned Tibetan flags and their photos of the Dalai Lama, painting their signs and perfecting their slogans. This day, commemorated by Tibetans across the diaspora, results in a “deep horizontal comradeship” (Anderson 1983) binding diasporic Tibetans, reminding them of their purpose, which many state as fighting for the freedom of their compatriots suffering under Chinese domination in Tibet (see Figure 8.1). Events like these serve as public platforms where Tibetans in the United States can speak out and educate their audience about what has happened in Tibet under the Chinese, explain the presence of Tibetans in the United States can increase support for political change in Tibet. In 1997, Tibetans organized a variety of people to give speeches at New Mexico’s state capitol in Santa Fe. With perhaps 100 nonTibetan onlookers, the organizer invited a Santa Fe Tibetan to talk about his experiences living under Chinese rule in Tibet. The man introduced himself as Wangdu. He said that Tibet was independent until 1959 and that Tibetans have been killed in “nonviolent demonstrations against Chinese authority.” Wangdu was born in Tibet in 1951. His immediate family included his parents and several brothers. His father was arrested by the 183

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Figure 8.1 March 10, 1997 commemoration of the 1959 Lhasa Uprising, Santa Fe,

New Mexico. Source: Author.

Chinese for supposed political activity. Brought before a public meeting, with his family watching, he was executed. Wangdu’s mother became mentally ill. A friend came and told a brother that the brother was to be arrested so he fled to India. In 1961, when Wangdu was ten years old, the Chinese rounded up between fifty and sixty children and put them in a school. One day an incident took place between one of the adults in charge and Wangdu: “I had a knife in my pocket and tried to stab him. I was shot in the knee.” The ten-year-old boy was separated from his family and sent to prison. His mother and another brother escaped to India. Left alone, he tried to break into a Chinese store because he was so hungry. He was caught, but a brother rescued him and took him to India. Wangdu attended school in Dharamsala. In time, he applied for resettlement in the United States under the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP) and was one of the 1,000 selected. In 1992 he came to Santa Fe. “Volunteers and the TRP [Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico] made this transition easier. I am happy, have a great job, and [am] grateful that my wife and children have come to join me in Santa Fe, but this doesn’t matter when people are suffering in Tibet,” he said. Wangdu’s speech is one example of Tibetans fulfilling their ambassadorial mission in the United States, educating Americans about the plight of Tibetans in

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Tibet. During this time, the spouses and children of the anchor relatives began to arrive in the United States. Thus, after four to five years of separation, the TUSRP entered a new phase. Tibetans in New Mexico had worked for years to ensure they would have enough money saved to meet the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s requirements for family reunification.1 Parents had missed years of their children’s growth and development. Most had seen their children only once or twice, or not at all, depending on financial considerations, since their initial migration to the United States. Many marriages suffered under the strain of separation and a few ended in divorce. While the diaspora had entered a second phase, Tibetans’ commitment to educating the public about Tibet’s plight seemed to have entered a second stage as well. With their families in the United States, cultural preservation and the desire to serve as ambassadors for their lost homeland took on new importance. This chapter serves to highlight the ways Tibetans of two different generations (parents, raised and educated in exile, and their children, receiving at least some education in the United States), in their twice-removed exile in the United States, understand and express their Tibetanness, and yet how both generations take their political roles as Tibetans seriously. As parents discuss the worries and hopes they have for their children’s future, we see a new level of consciousness of Tibetan culture and what that has come to mean in the context of U.S. society. Because parents were particularly concerned about maintaining the “Tibetanness” of their U.S.-raised children, this chapter dwells in particular on the experiences of Tibetan youths between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. We will see that as these youths come to terms with “being Tibetan” in the United States in general, and New Mexico in particular, they enunciate an emergent cosmopolitanism in an interconnected global sphere where their Tibetan identity has more relevance than ever before.

Culture as Base Camp: The “Transnational Generation” and Preserving Tibetanness in the United States Through taking up the mantle of “ambassador” for Tibet (Central Tibetan Administration 1992), Tibetans are linking an identity closely associated with the nationalism that has developed in exile in South Asia with the adoption of citizenship in a powerful nation-state. In this chapter I suggest that Tibetan youth in the United States build on the “beyond practice” notion of culture prominent among Tibetans in India and the United States. A “beyond practice” understanding of culture goes beyond the culture maintenance ethos promoted by the government-in-exile, suggesting that a nationalistic and patriotic attachment to

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Tibet is one of the most important aspects of Tibetan identity. Further, Tibetans often expressed the idea that maintaining a “Tibetan” attitude and outlook was more important than performing specific practices. Here I also want to problematize what are often framed as “first-,” “second-,” or “third-” generation immigrant narratives and experiences. I refer to those whose parents came from Tibet and who were raised and educated primarily in exile as “second-generation” exiles. Their understandings of what constitutes a Tibetan attitude and outlook provide a framework for how the perspective of their children, whom I call the “transnational generation,” is diverging from their own. Following Boehm (2008: 772) and Glick Schiller and Fouron (2001), I have become increasingly aware of the difficulties of applying the “generational” terminology to this third or fourth generation. Boehm suggests adopting the term transnational generation for the young Mexicans she studies, regardless of whether they were born in Mexico or the United States. “Transnational generation” captures the complexity of identity imparted from living in multiple places, whether one is born in the “homeland,” the “second home,” or in the “twice-displaced exile” resettlement country. The label is perhaps even more applicable to diaspora populations because of the underlying imperative that orients thinking and action toward “home.” However, this kind of attachment, which exceeds nation-state boundaries, is applicable to more than those who are stateless, in diaspora, refugees, and immigrants. These kinds of attachments are experienced by many, especially those who are highly mobile, in an age of globalization. First, I will discuss the understandings of Tibetanness as articulated by those “second-generation” Tibetan exiles raised primarily in India. These understandings were constructed over four decades of government-in-exile strategizing focused primarily on regaining the homeland and preserving Tibetan culture in exile. Gyatso is a Tibetan living in New Mexico. His wife’s resettlement story opened Chapter 7. He was born in Tibet and left with his parents as a young boy soon after the Lhasa uprising in 1959. Gyatso was educated in India and eventually completed university studies there. Before immigrating to the United States, he was a senior official in the Central Tibetan Administration, for which he had been working for over fifteen years. At the time of my interview with Gyatso in 2001, he had been reunited with his wife, having arrived in New Mexico with his sons in 1997. He was working in the accounting department of a local business in Albuquerque. His sons were then nineteen and eleven years old. They lived in a new house on Albuquerque’s growing west side. Their lives were filled with

“Culture Is Your Base Camp” 187

the routines of work, school, and team sports, much like millions of other middle-class American families. I interviewed him in the newly opened Tibet Center–New Mexico office, where he graciously allowed me to tape the interview, which was occasionally interrupted by the happy screams of young Tibetan children as they careened around the building. His remarks speak not only to both the conscious nature of Tibetan identity production as it developed in India and the inescapability of one’s Tibetanness, but also to the importance of actively and conscientiously working for the exile community in everyday practice: One of the things is that wherever you go, whatever you do, you will never forget the cause for which you have lived. . . . And for which your life personifies, so to speak, that kind of history. So you cannot do away with your own history, wherever you go. So that is one of the strong inner strengths that I used to carry all through that someday, whatever you do, wherever you are, you will try to do something good for the community, for the Tibetan cause, at least in this point in time [when] really the need is [the] most [urgent].

Gyatso shows the way this sense of urgency has compelled his generation to embody the Tibetan cause and how it colors every action and inaction. It is this sense of urgency that parents have tried to convey to their children, their inheritance as diasporic Tibetans. Concurrently, many parents expressed the idea that while their own Tibetan identity was secure—by virtue of growing up in Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal—their decision to migrate to the United States placed their children’s Tibetan identity in jeopardy. These concerns and opportunities are addressed below as I discuss the establishment of Tibetan cultural associations and Tibetan approaches to education. “Taking the Best of Both Worlds”: Culture out of the Box Lobsang is also a second-generation Tibetan exile, born in Tibet, raised in India, and a leader in the Tibetan community in Santa Fe. He and his wife have three children, one of whom, Namgyal, also features prominently in this chapter. When I asked Lobsang if it was difficult to make the decision to become a U.S. citizen he responded: “No . . . I thought it is more realistic and better. . . . Because we can have Tibetan spirit, Tibetan attitude and everything. So we can maintain all the goodness of both communities, [they] can be added and maintained if one is willing to do so.” I heard this idea expressed in a variety of ways by Tibetans in different contexts. Desang, a young Tibetan American in his twenties living in a large East Coast city, stated: “There are two ways I see people going: to choose to assimilate

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and lose your identity, or to keep your identity and take advantage of the opportunities here. With the caveat that there’s always the danger of assimilation. But again, the families are important here. And it’s consciously a choice that people make.” First, these statements reflect the idea that culture maintenance, and conversely culture loss, are something that individuals and the community itself have some control over—the idea that these are conscious processes. Second, they reveal a concept of culture as something that is not only flexible and that changes over time, but as something that is malleable, in other words, that can be consciously changed by individuals and collectivities. Third, they reveal an underlying assumption that U.S. society allows for this kind of attachment and display of culture. Gyatso spoke about Tibetan culture as a “base camp” that would allow him to live and be a part of U.S. society: I think it really depends on the contract in education and how you really get along with your life. As you know, my kids, they play football, baseball, we as parents we eagerly look forward to Saturday’s football game. And every season they play football. That’s one way of getting into that. But always, my personal philosophy is this: I talk to people that okay, the kind of culture that you have come from, especially the Buddhist culture, is your “base camp”—if you want to climb a mountain. So let your base camp be there, it’s good enough for you and others who want to share also so that you can really climb the mountain of your life. In the process, you know, you live in the United States. The United States is your home. When you talk about impermanence, it’s impermanence, but since we are here and you live here you abide by the rules and the regulations of this country. You are part and parcel of this society. So therefore I think it’s equally important for you, how you can educate yourself, not only in the classroom, but as a part of a civil society, but get into the society and feel yourself comfortable to make this your home. So it really depends on the individual in a big way.

Noteworthy in Gyatso’s statement is not only the assumption that holding onto one’s own cultural beliefs is important and possible in U.S. society, but also his insistence that it is important to become a part of U.S. society—in fact, that one has an obligation to do so. When Gyatso says, “it really depends on the individual in a big way,” I hear him echoing a prevalent idea I heard expressed countless times in India. This dichotomous relationship, between individuals and collectivities, is one constantly referenced by exile Tibetans to refer to purity of motivation and the cause and effect of action. Thus, adjustment to a new society is “up to the indi-

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vidual,” and so is maintaining a sense of identity as a Tibetan. At the same time, I found that individual achievement and motivation are acceptable if done in the name of the collective whole. For example, a young Tibetan girl dreams of becoming a lawyer because it will help Tibetans gain their independence. Economic gain is a worthy goal to improve the lives of individuals, but also to benefit one’s family in Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal and the Tibet movement generally. As we have seen in Chapter 7, accruing individual benefit is criticized if it is not accomplished with proper motivation—that is, with the collective’s best interests in mind. julia: And so what are your concerns for the future of your kids here [in the United States] and for yourself? gyatso: I personally don’t have much concern about myself as such. But as I said, it always drives me to really think about how best you can do something for the Tibetan cause. Because as I said, my life is really ingrained in the whole Tibetan diaspora: I came from India, [was] educated in India, lived with the cause, sharing the future cause of Tibet, everything so long as the Tibetan issue is not solved. ’Til then you have the responsibility to be at least a spokesperson to, you know, to really what is being done [in Tibet]. So that slightly bothers me, how there is every opportunity, but am I really able to seize the opportunity? And for [the] kids, I think losing the cultural aspect which of course me and my wife as parents, we have more responsibilities, but at the same time not losing touch of [their] community of historical connections, really trying to bring them up as a good person.

So while it seems there is a rhetorical emphasis on individual agency, motivations are generally framed in terms of the benefit or detriment to the collective. In this way, diaspora consciousness acts as a powerful motivator for every aspect of life and social reproduction. As we will see below, other Tibetan parents and children frame their worries for the future of Tibetans in the United States in terms of increasing individualism without concern for the collective. At the same time, parents see inculcating their children with commitment, to the Tibetan cause, to help their fellow Tibetans, as one of their primary responsibilities. Tibetan Associations The rapid development of Tibetan associations in the United States is a testament to the belief, first put into practice in India, that cultural preservation can

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be successfully accomplished and continually produced through the establishment of institutions that preserve and teach aspects of Tibetan culture. In Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico was originally established to coordinate resettlement: finding sponsors, housing, and employment; organizing English as a Second Language tutoring and citizenship tutoring; and providing other help that immigrants needed early on in the process. Eventually, however, shortly after family reunification was mostly complete, Tibetans themselves established §501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Santa Fe Tibetans founded the Santa Fe Tibetan Association in 1998 and Tibetans in Albuquerque founded the Tibet Center–New Mexico in 2001. Both of these organizations have among their goals the preservation of Tibetan culture and the development of educational programs, directed primarily at children. The first programs established by each of the groups included Tibetan language classes held on Saturdays to make sure that Tibetans growing up in New Mexico were literate in their home language. Additionally, the Santa Fe Tibetan Association, under the direction of Dorjee Gyaltsen, has formed a Tibetan Dance Troupe, which performs in a variety of local venues for Tibetan holidays and celebrations as well as other functions. The Tibet Center–New Mexico has similar goals for teaching the community’s children dance, music, thangka painting, and other Tibetan arts. The associations also organize celebrations of important holidays such as Losar, the Tibetan New Year (see Figure 8.2), the commemoration of the anniversary of the Lhasa uprising on March 10, and the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6. Tibetan associations have been formed in almost every cluster site where significant numbers of Tibetans have settled in the United States over the last few decades. In addition, the Tibet Center–New Mexico plans to offer Tibetan cultural programs to the wider Albuquerque community. In this way, Tibetans are envisioning a process of cultural preservation achieved in the context of incorporation into a larger society. Education A number of social theorists have written about the relationship between transnational migration and educational aspiration (Ong and Nonini 1997; Kelsky 2001; López 2003; Louie 2004). Obtaining better educational opportunities for their children is one of the most important motivations for Tibetans to migrate to the West. The ethnic and socioeconomic milieu of public schools in Santa Fe is worth exploring, because although the city is unique in certain ways, especially with

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Figure 8.2 Santa Fe Tibetans celebrating Losar, Museum of International Folk Art,

Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1998. Source: Author.

respect to the ethnopolitics of the Hispano Southwest as well as the heavy reliance on a service economy and government sectors, it is situated in the United States and shares cultural, political, social, and economic features with other U.S. communities where Tibetans live. The middle school that serves the neighborhood where the majority of Tibetan school children live has a student population that is primarily “Hispanic” in origin (89 percent), and although this population is not officially differentiated, this label includes both Hispano native New Mexicans and more recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America. In a total population of 589 students for the 2000 school year, there were 38 white students, 6 Asian students (including Tibetans), and 3 black students. Eighty-two percent of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. The principal acknowledged that in the coming years the school must prepare for an influx of students from more ethnically diverse backgrounds than ever before. It was clear to me in my brief meetings with the principal and a few teachers that they had few, if any, resources to direct to Tibetan children specifically. Offhand comments made to me by teachers and school administrators suggest that, from the early years of resettlement, the model minority mantle was bestowed upon Tibetans, lumping them with a generic Asian student

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who is quiet, respectful, heeds teacher and parental authority, and works very hard in school. In conversations with young Tibetans about their reception at school, they told me that other students assumed they were Chinese and that they were disparagingly referred to as “Chinks.” This was dismaying to them, of course, because Tibetans, as we have seen, learned to define themselves in opposition to Chineseness. However, it most likely reflects the racializing tendency to view Asians as one undifferentiated group. Several students told me that they had to protect each other, for fear of being targeted by other students. For parents, this brought up fear of gang violence, school shootings, the prevalence of guns, and other aspects of violence in American culture that Tibetan parents found alarming. Thus, early on parents and children struggled with various aspects of “Americanization”—primarily individualism, in the sense that it undermines a collective orientation, but also in relation to resisting parental authority and the cohesiveness of the family unit and departing from Tibetan cultural norms. In response to the poor public schools in Santa Fe, several of the approximately thirteen Tibetan families in Santa Fe began to investigate ways to send their children to private or charter schools. As of 2005, at least five of the thirteen families had enrolled five children in charter schools and five other children in private schools. While the socioeconomic picture for many recent Tibetan immigrants may look bleak in objective terms, my research leads me to suggest that parents’ educational aspirations for their children—causing them to pursue educational alternatives for their children and to push them to do well in school—will propel many of the transnational-generation Tibetan youth into professional occupations. The North American Tibetan Community Needs Assessment Project conducted a survey of Tibetan youth in 2002. In that study 98 percent of Tibetans in the United States said they considered finishing high school very important, and 69 percent planned on attending college (Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture 2002: appendix 5, 13). Although future aspirations are not good predictors of educational attainment, it is worth noting that a large percentage of Tibetans at least stated that they planned on attending college. Although Tibetan parents spoke of the educational opportunities available to their children in the United States, some also expressed worries that their children would not avail themselves of these opportunities. At the same time, parents are acutely aware of how immersion in the school system of the dominant society influences the perspective of their children. Pema is younger than

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Gyatso and Lobsang—he was in his early thirties at the time of our interview— and his children are younger, and will have spent much of their academic lives in the U.S. educational system. He spoke of the benefits of educational opportunity paired with his fear that his children would become too individualistic: pema: The good things are that definitely they will get a very good education in the United States. I am trying that too. It depends . . . on the parents too, to give them encouragement and the chance to go to a good school. . . . They will definitely learn good stuff and there are lots of opportunities for them to learn better education and. . . . The bad things [are that] I think that [they] will become more individualistic. julia: And so how, how has the way you have thought about [preserving Tibetan culture] changed since you have come to the United States? About teaching your children about that? Did you think about that in India? pema: No, I didn’t think about that in India. I knew that the one thing that I was a little worried about before I moved to the United States [was] that the kids, my kids would know about Tibetan [language]. But they may forget that language now. And it’s not reading and writing Tibetan that will be the problem for them, though since we don’t have any Tibetan schools here, that is my first priority [to find that]. But I didn’t think that would change a lot. But since my kids are now growing up in the United States, I am always telling them this is the culture we do, and we have to preserve our culture, which is very important, that’s what I feel. But since they are growing [up] in the United States, and they go to U.S. schools, sometimes it’s kind of [difficult to] answer some of the questions they ask. You know, sometimes the kids say that, “Dad don’t say that, that’s my life,” you know. In India, I could say, “That’s your life, I know that, but we are Tibetan, we are supposed to do [things] this way.” But here, now the kids, you know [respond], “I’m sorry Dad, but it’s my life, whatever I feel is good. If it’s important to me and. . . .” They are not telling that directly to you, “You are not going to tell us to do this and that.” In the heart I feel like, oh no, something is going wrong. So, I think it’s going to change.

The next section explores the changes Pema is referring to—the ways in which Tibetan youth identity is transforming in the United States. We also see how the local context, in this case New Mexico, influences Tibetan identity construction.

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Interviews among Tibetan youth in the United States reveal complex yet extremely articulate and nuanced accounts of identity formation in process. It is my view that diasporic youth, in particular, provide an important window into emergent ways of understanding self, ethnic, national, and, as we shall see, “cosmopolitan” identity in an increasingly global sphere. These youth are the inheritors of a Tibetanness that has become unmoored from inhabiting Tibet; furthermore, although they express insecurities about their Tibetan identity, they strongly associate Tibetanness with nationalist activism. The desire to return to their homeland promotes a vision of a life of mobility with a dream of Tibet being the ultimate destination. They have thus become agents in a cycle that rationalizes their new mobility because it facilitates political activism on a global stage.

Tibetan Youth: Crafting a Transnational Tibetan Identity There is increasing attention to youth and the so-called 1.5 generation (immigrants who arrived as children or teens) and second generation in the immigration literature (Fouron and Glick Schiller 2001; Portes 2001; Min 2002; Baker 2004; Kasinitz et al. 2004). There is little scholarly or journalistic work that examines the attitudes of Tibetan youth. What little there is, however, offers a glimpse of subjectivities that express new and emergent views of identity and belonging at this historical juncture (see Nowak 1984; Cayley 1994; Lukas et al. 1998; Diehl 2002; Yeh and Lama 2006). As Tibetans settle in the United States, their identities are shaped by national (and local) parameters of inclusion and exclusion that define the body politic. Citizenship in the United States builds upon historic racial exclusions and what Lisa Lowe (1996) has called the “abstract citizen” (who is white and male). Yet, in the United States, unlike in most other countries, a jus soli determination of citizenship (literally “right of the soil”) is practiced. In other words, birth in the United States automatically confers citizenship. The jus sanguinis model confers citizenship to those born of a country’s natives; in other words, the children of those with U.S. citizenship will automatically be granted U.S. citizenship at birth. In the United States we have both forms of citizenship. The jus soli model of citizenship has contributed to an explicit ideology that theoretically embraces multicultural citizenship in the United States.2 Tibetan youth rapidly become aware of their difference, however, not as they had previously understood it in India, but within new parameters of ethnic and racial categorization unique to the United States, and to New Mexico in particular.

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One Santa Fe Tibetan youth, Dondup, was nineteen at the time of our interview in 1999. We talked together in the living room of his house in Santa Fe. The cream-colored stucco house was built in the architectural style that is found throughout New Mexico. The room was furnished in a manner similar to most middle-class living rooms in the United States. We sat on a beige couch in front of an entertainment center, which, like those in many Tibetan homes, held the icons of their old and new lives: a television and a VCR , and also a section devoted to images of the Buddha, and the Dalai Lama. Two colorful thangka scrolls were hung high from the walls; one was of Green Tara and the other of the Boddhisatva of Compassion. Dondup responded to my question, “What does it mean to you to be a Tibetan in the United States?” Unique, I find myself unique, to tell you the truth. I am really proud of that. I walk into Santa Fe and I see all these Mexicans and American people and American Indians, and they think I am a Mexican among the Mexican people. I go to the Indian people and they think I am Indian. And then I say I am Tibetan, and they go “What?” I say, “I’m Tibetan,” and they don’t know anything about Tibet. And I begin teaching about Tibet: “Tibet is this, Tibet is the roof of the world,” you know. And I think I’m unique because they don’t know anything about Tibet and I can tell them about it, and I am a part of that different thing. And they kind of like enjoy listening to me usually. Like you are enjoying it too right now! [Both laugh]

Dondup’s comment shows his immediate awareness of ethnic and racial categories and the attempts of others to recognize and categorize his ethnicity in these (local) terms. Also significant is Dondup’s pride at being different, incorporating his recognition that Tibetanness is something new in this U.S. and, specifically, New Mexican context. Namgyal, a young woman who came to New Mexico as part of the TUSRP, was twenty-four years old at the time of our interview in July 2002. Her quote reflecting the complicated allegiances Tibetans develop as they become citizens opens the book. Her father is Lobsang, whom I quote discussing the conscious nature of the process of identity construction. After completing high school and college in Santa Fe, Namgyal had moved to Albuquerque and was studying hard in order to be accepted into a graduate program. She also spoke of becoming aware of her uniqueness, as an “Asian” and as a Tibetan:

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I think [being in the United States] made me aware of my own background. Everybody’s different, but here in New Mexico, number one you don’t see that many Asians, and on top of that there aren’t many Tibetans. And then you do realize that you are different from others. And that has helped me in getting active in lots of different activities, [for example, spreading information about how] the Tibetan people got oppressed by the Chinese.

Namgyal’s quote confirms my description in Chapter 6 of the way Tibetans in India associate identity with nationalist feeling and political action. Significantly, Tibetan action is often discursively framed in relation to Chinese policy in Tibet. Namgyal further stated that the most important aspect of being a good Tibetan is to be politically involved: julia: So what does that mean to you, to be a good Tibetan? What are the most important things? namgyal: I think number one would be [to be] politically involved. I think also in some way, you are political if you speak your own language. Because right now in Tibet, the Chinese are trying to do everything to destroy the culture. Not having proper Tibetan education. And I think Tibetan women are more active because we wear Tibetan dress and men don’t.

Namgyal’s quote demonstrates not only the link between Tibetanness and political activism but also how cultural practices are politicized. Thus, feelings of pride associated with Tibetanness are also spurring new levels of activism—not only political activism but cultural activism as well. Also significant is her recognition of gender politics, which she told me was further developed through her U.S. education. Dondup spoke of his newfound enthusiasm for participating in Tibetan cultural events in New Mexico, in particular the dance troupe, in contrast to his view of similar activities in India: In America [in school], they kind of give you a choice of what you want to do, but in India, if you kind of like take one step towards something you have to go through all the way, even if you don’t want to you will be pushed to go through all the way. It is like spoon-feeding. They will make you eat it. So, I used to practice with cultural groups, I even learned food, I was in the school band and everything. All of those were kind of like trying to get myself out of the cultural groups, because I didn’t want to dance, I didn’t want to [inaudbile] my steps. You know, I found it boring because we were kind of like into the Indian culture which we were exposed to, and we found it to be interesting.

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And at first when I was small I thought India, the place where I was living was in Tibet. Because my mom and dad told me I was Tibetan and I thought the place where I was living, Dharamsala, was in Tibet. And then I got to TCV [the Tibetan Children’s Village] and I got this really big shock that Tibet is under China and I am in India. And then they exposed me to this culture I have never seen before, and I kind of get scared, and bored out of it. And then I come to America and I kind of expect the culture, the same kind of culture exposition [exposure] here, and then I found out there is almost none at all. There’s a little bit, and then it’s from one person, Dorjee-la [the dance teacher], and he knows something and then he teaches us that. That’s the only thing we have here, and the praying, prayer stuff. And then, I kind of started missing it, and I started craving for it, and I started to join the Tibetan dance group. And I started to learn about this stuff. It was kind of like just there. And actually it kind of makes you, like, want more. . . .

In addition to associations with cultural practice and Tibetanness that have traveled with Tibetans from South Asia to the United States, I have found that young Tibetans in the United States build on the “beyond practice” concept that developed in India. Tsering, a nineteen-year-old Tibetan girl who was studying in Europe at the time of our interview in 2002, expands on this idea: What does it mean to be Tibetan? I just find that being Tibetan . . . doesn’t even mean that you have to know perfect Tibetan, to speak Tibetan. Or even [be] pure blood Tibetan. . . . I think . . . there are three different Tibetans that I can imagine: there is one which my grandparents represent, you know the old, the ancient, the orthodox Tibet, deeply religious, and they are kind of cocooned against the outside world, because they didn’t really have contact. And then there are my parents who were like the bridges between that and the modern world. The exile community they lived in and they worked hardest I think because they went from what Tibet was to the modern world. And what Tibet was, my dad said, was centuries behind. So I think they had the biggest shock and the hardest time. And then I think my generation is a fusion of everything. . . . So I think it is also very cool that Tibet, it is such a rich culture yet there are so many separate parts and it can accept all of them.

Thus, Tibetans in exile, especially those in the West, are describing hybridized identities that differ significantly from the static, “traditional” notions of Tibetan identity associated with “old Tibet.” Many of them, like Tsering, explicitly

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discussed their Tibetanness as an active bridging of tradition and modernity. Yet, despite the optimistic and open perspective of many Tibetan youth and parents, I have heard expressions of dismay as parents and other elders worry about kids who stay out late, go to parties, or who use their hard-earned money to buy cars or name-brand clothes rather than focus on education.

Internalizing “Independence” As I was conducting research in New Mexico, I became interested in seeing how Tibetan youth were reflecting on these ideas more generally, moving beyond the focus on New Mexico. Two years after Wangdu’s 1997 speech, I attended another March 10 demonstration, this one organized by a Tibetan student and her classmates at the College of Santa Fe (see Figure 8.3). They organized a candlelight vigil and a twenty-four-hour hunger strike while they camped out on the steps of Santa Fe’s state capitol building. During this event I had conversations with several Tibetan youths: we discussed violence versus nonviolence, intermarriage with non-Tibetans, how Tibetan culture is changing in the diaspora, and their plans for the future. This event shows the determination of youth to take up the mantle of their parents. They too, take their role as ambassadors for Tibet seriously. Moreover, like their parents, they believe that becoming a U.S. citizen does not weaken their loyalty to Tibet, but rather serves as a platform from which to advocate for Tibet’s independence more powerfully. The remainder of this chapter, then, also includes the voices of young Tibetans—Desang and Tsering, who at the time of their interviews were attending university and were actively questioning the ways in which their identities should and would influence their career trajectories. Apart from adopting new traditions, Tibetan youth in the United States are holding in tension and challenging other elements often cited as part of being Tibetan. Tibetans refer to the Dalai Lama as being their spiritual and political leader. Tsering clearly expressed her view of the role of the Dalai Lama: We should respect His Holiness [the Dalai Lama], he’s not a human, he’s a bodhisattva, he knows more than us, he knows what’s good for us. I sense a conflict between Western and Eastern ideals. The West values individualism and independence, and encourages defiance and skepticism. Western thought and research is much about questioning dogmas and accepted beliefs. On the other hand, Eastern values are very society based and teach respect and devotion without questioning. Despite these contradictions, I think western or

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Figure 8.3 Tibet demonstration, organized by students at the College of Santa Fe,

March 7, 1999. Source: Author.

modern Tibetans feel an overwhelming sense of respect and adoration for His Holiness. We feel it is a blessing to be a Tibetan because we are part of such a unique and compassionate culture and a leader like His Holiness who epitomizes this culture and can unite all Tibetans.

A friend told me about Desang, who is Tibetan American and who grew up and was educated in the United States. I interviewed him in 2002 when he was in his twenties, attending a prestigious East Coast university. Desang spoke of differentiating the Dalai Lama’s role as spiritual leader and his role as political leader. He speculated that living in pluralist democracies in the United States and India has helped promote the idea of a “loyal opposition”: that one can believe the Dalai Lama is divine, but not necessarily agree with his actions in the political arena, especially “the Middle Path,” his decision to accept “genuine autonomy” within the Chinese state in lieu of independence. desang: The autonomy versus independence discourse is extremely difficult for Tibetans. I think, however, people are realizing that they can disagree with the Dalai Lama politically and it [will] not affect their regard for him as a religious figure.

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julia: Do you think this is changing among Tibetan youth in America? desang: Yes, I think the idea of a loyal opposition is growing. Maybe this is a factor of living in American democracy and I also should not discount living in an Indian democracy. People are realizing this is possible. I think there is also a change in the way that people see the Dalai Lama. My grandmother sees him as divine. The younger generation sees the benefits of the separation of church and state, more separation is better for both religion and the state. So that you can still regard the Dalai Lama as the religious head, but disagree with him politically.

Still, Tibetan youth echo their parents’ concerns as they wonder how living in the United States will affect Tibetans. In the following quote Tsering expressed what she characterized as the positive outcomes of Tibetans coming to the West, yet she had some misgivings with regard to identity maintenance as well: Those in the West have more opportunities in terms of education and career. Traveling and living in different parts of the world helps foster cross-cultural interpersonal skills because you meet different people with other ways of living and thinking. The traditional Tibetan society is more conservative in the way we interact with other people and the way we present ourselves to others. It is also a very compassionate, respectful culture. I also feel that the new generation that is here in the West have adopted other cultural traits and behaviors such as in the style of clothing. Despite that, I believe Tibetans still identify themselves as Tibetans and hold on to different aspects of our culture such as our religion and language.

Tsering articulates the tension young people feel as they actively try to bridge “traditional” understandings of Tibetanness with new practices that they themselves are in the process of claiming as parts of their identity. Namgyal, the twenty-four-year-old New Mexico Tibetan, expresses it this way: julia: How do you think Tibetan culture has changed with more migration [to the United States]? namgyal: Well, I think that culture is always changing with time. And most of the immigration, yeah, people are getting more Westernized and busier [laughing] and . . . and I think in some ways, getting like more individualistic. And things like respect for elders are slowly fading and then how people dress: when I went to a Tibetan gathering in Washington,

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I was really surprised to see like how kids were dressing up. And it’s weird, even though I went to American schools, but still Tibetan kids, a boy and a girl holding hands, I am not used to that. julia: How were they dressed? namgyal: [laughing] The girls were dressed like they were off to work in an office, with little skirts and a handbag. Even in the evening at the fireplace gathering! [laughing]. And the boys were really into AfricanAmerican baggy clothes and flashy designer names. julia: So let me ask, how has it changed family life? namgyal: I think maybe [pause] children having more say in their own lives, like what they want to do. Instead of parents telling you exactly, you should study this and that. So, in that way. And in America people work, the immigrant story about how everybody works so hard, and we have less time seeing each other and, I mean, the negative aspects, those things. And kids as they start earning, they get a little bit more arrogant towards their parents. julia: Does that worry you? namgyal: Yes, I think it’s a little bit disturbing. And . . . but then if I look from my Western point of view, maybe it’s a good thing, independence.

Namgyal’s ability to look at the growing individualism and independence of youth from her parents’ viewpoint, and to distinguish Tibetan cultural values from Western values, speaks to the double consciousness that is often a result of difference in a nesting set of cultural values. It also speaks to Tsering’s comment about young Tibetans being a bridge between tradition and modernity— a fusion of the old and the new. This is important: the ability to see multiple viewpoints, and somehow incorporate them into the self is resonant with postmodern theories of subjectivities, but it clearly speaks to the self-awareness that so quickly develops when people, especially young people, move between and among different societies. Desang was extremely articulate about identity formation on the margins. He said, “I don’t know too many countries that embrace hyphenated nationalities. You can be a Tibetan American. It’s a point of pride almost. . . . People with U.S. citizenship, they are very proud of that, but there is something else there. Multiculturalism is encouraged here.” At the same time, he talked about his childhood in the United States: “Growing up, people in my town didn’t know a lot about Tibet. If they did, it was seen as very exotic, different. It wasn’t

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negative by any means. But it sets you apart. You weren’t American.” He told me that he identifies as Tibetan, not as American, even though he is a U.S. citizen. Although he was not necessarily conscious of his difference as a young child, now, after traveling in India, and perhaps even more importantly, after attending university in a large metropolitan area “where most of the faces on the subway are brown,” he is aware that he was always treated differently in his predominantly white town growing up. He said, desang: I think going back to India, it’s a way of reconnecting, reaffirming Tibetan identity. It’s along the same lines of Jewish kids going to Israel. It’s a deeply meaningful experience. It’s not that I didn’t feel Tibetan before—I did—but I got a sense of what it means to be Tibetan. julia: And what does it mean? desang: I can maybe better tell you what it doesn’t mean—a lot of the traditional society, it was [a] very superstitious place, narrow, a lot of this stems from its isolation, an educational system that was not that great. To me being Tibetan and embracing modernity are not mutually exclusive. I can be culturally Tibetan and be very . . . I am not sure of the word here, but “cosmopolitan.” It reminds me of that quote of Gandhi, [paraphrasing] “I want to open the window, and let in the fresh breeze, but not be swept off my feet.” It means being grounded, but being open to the world. julia: Was your sense of Tibetanness affirmed in India? desang: It was in a sense like going home. Maybe the best way to describe the feeling I have is to tell you the story of this guy I met in an Internet café [in India]. He said that he went home to visit his family in Tibet, they were yak herders and he said, “All they talk about is yaks! You know it’s your home, it’s your family, but there’s something missing.” That’s how I feel.

Desang echoes other Tibetans who claim a fundamentally diasporic identity that incorporates feelings of loss, of never belonging: they speak of “returning” to a place they have never been, they talk about India as their “second home” and voice doubts about ever feeling American. Desang stated that selfidentification as a Tibetan was perhaps the most important element of retaining identity. I am not suggesting that hybridity and thinking beyond the limits of tradition are associated solely with Tibetans in the United States. This is clearly not the case, as Tibetans in India were also articulating a culture concept that

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moved beyond a mere catalogue of authentic traits and practices. Yet, among Tibetans I interviewed in the United States, there was clearly an increased comfort level with contradiction, hybridized cultural display, and multifaceted identity.

Imagined Futures: Return to Tibet and Commitments to the Collectivity Return to Tibet Tibetans in New Mexico almost unfailingly express confidence that in the end Tibet will gain independence (or at least autonomy). When I began to interview Tibetans who had resettled in New Mexico, one of the first questions I asked was whether they would return to Tibet and under what conditions they would consider doing so. Tashi, a former primary school teacher in India, who was born in Tibet in 1959 and left with his parents as an infant for India, responded this way to my question: julia: Would you go back to Tibet if it were a free country? tashi: Sure, yeah, definitely yes! I know lots of people ask this because right now the situation in Tibet is very very bad and the standard of living is something like day and night, the standard of the United States and Tibet, so many people doubt, since we have permanent residency here that we might not go back to Tibet if Tibet were a free country. But I certainly think that most of us would definitely go.

I received similar responses from the majority of people I interviewed. A few younger Tibetans did qualify their answers with the notion that they might buy a summer home or somehow maintain a foothold in either India or the United States. In India, I was surprised at how discussions of return to Tibet infiltrated everyday life. One day, as I was walking with a middle-aged Tibetan woman up the street that led to our room in McLeod Ganj, she gestured to the concrete block houses on either side of the street and said, “When we return to Tibet, all these houses will stand empty.” Such musings, however, belie the creeping realization many younger Tibetans attributed to the older generation who left Tibet as adults—that they may not be able to return during their lifetimes. Still, during interviews and other conversations, I found that return was constantly alluded to, and as such stands as the guidepost of diaspora imaginings of individual and collective futures.

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One Tibetan woman I interviewed in Bylakuppe spoke of her plans for the future: What am I doing in the future? Now I am already forty-eight. If I reach sixty or seventy years, during that time I will be in charge of this job, I hope to serve the government. It is my hope to be able to do that. Until then I will stay in this organization, in this organization I have one job. I will try to do this job well (lha bsam rnam dag). I hope I carry that well. Only if I am young I can make some plans for the future. I am worried about not doing my job well, that my ability to do the job will decrease. So, I received this experience here, I hope to be able to use that experience in Tibet as the nanny (ma ma) of children.

Among newcomers, or recent refugees from Tibet, the notion of displacement and loss is often expressed. Many told me that they regretted having come to India but felt they were unable to return to Tibet. Many others plan their future around the possibility of return, some foregoing planned migration because it would take them farther from Tibet. However, some Tibetans see migration to the United States as a way to return to Tibet. One newcomer told me that he thought it was “better in America.” I wondered, if he went to America, would he feel like there was less chance of him returning to Tibet because it is so far away? He said no, quite the contrary, relating the story of a friend who was part of the TUSRP who already has U.S. citizenship and has returned twice to see his family in Tibet. In that way, his friend in the United States has become closer to Tibet. The newcomer asserted that by becoming a U.S. citizen he may be able to have a stronger connection with Tibet than if he stays in India. Similarly, Tibetans I have interviewed who are already in the United States claim that one of the primary benefits of U.S. citizenship is that a U.S. passport will make it much easier for them to return to Tibet. Namgyal said this about the benefits of U.S. citizenship: I think the foremost thing we look at in citizenship is being able to travel to Tibet. And it’s important for us, those of us who haven’t been to Tibet, but also more important maybe for elder[s], for people like my parents who came here [in exile generally] to go back and having American citizenship is like having insurance. So that if there’s trouble then the [U.S.] government would help.

I contend that this attitude toward citizenship is one of the most illustrative examples of emerging reconfigurations of citizenship and national belonging re-

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flected in this study. One young Tibetan woman recounted that she told a European American friend that being able to return to Tibet was one of the primary benefits of holding U.S. citizenship. Her friend was aghast, presumably because this attitude suggests a pragmatic approach to citizenship. To me, the desire to go to Tibet on a U.S. passport suggests not primarily a pragmatic attitude toward citizenship, but rather is a result of complex approaches and attitudes to a variety of state policies (including policies of the United States, India, and China as well as the government-in-exile) that encourage Tibetan Americans to foster loyalty to both the United States, their adopted homeland (which is, hopefully, by at least some measure a safe haven), and Tibet, their “home,” which has been irrevocably changed and made mostly inaccessible, until now, by Chinese domination. For younger Tibetans, those in their twenties and thirties and born in exile, “return” to Tibet is as much a part of an imagined future as it is for their parents. It is nonetheless part of a future that has been infused with a diaspora consciousness, with comfort in mobility and the idea of multiple homes. I asked Namgyal, “Do you feel at home in the United States?” She responded: namgyal: I think living in America has made me more aware of being a Tibetan and being a little bit different, yeah. There are material comforts here, but I don’t see myself living here forever, maybe that will change. julia: What kind of future do you imagine for yourself? namgyal: I think no matter what people say, I think Tibet will be free. Maybe like . . . also not exactly living in Tibet forever, I mean America is a home for me but maybe like back and forth. julia: That’s really interesting. And that’s more possible now. namgyal: Yeah. And India is also home, I guess.

For young Tibetans born in exile, return to Tibet is nonetheless envisioned as a homecoming. When I pressed Namgyal again about her future she again framed her response in terms of return to Tibet: julia: So let me ask you again, what kind of future do you imagine for yourself, in like five years? namgyal: Five or ten years . . . maybe I’ll still be in school [laughing]. Yeah. But I hope to be able to go to Tibet. Once at least. Once I was telling a story, about a dream, not exactly a dream, to one of my friends, that if I go to Tibet, the first time I land my foot on the ground, I will say, “Oh, I

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missed you so much!” And then, [laughing] and then she looked at me really weird and she said, “How can you miss it? You’ve never even been there!” And . . . yeah, then it dawned on me, oh . . . [I’ve never been there].

Return to India In the Introduction, I cited Clifford (1994, 1997) and Cohen (1997) and expanded on the idea that in diaspora new centers of identity production may emerge. We saw in Chapter 3 how Dharamsala (“Little Lhasa”) is often referred to as the authentic center of Tibetan identity in opposition to the destruction implied by Chinese occupation of Tibet. Indeed, the idea of India as center is not articulated solely by Westerners or the government-in-exile. Tibetans talked about return to India in a variety of contexts. When I first started interviewing Tibetans in 1995 and 1996, several people mentioned to me that sending their children back to India for education was a desirable notion. Return in this context was mentioned in connection with culture loss and also in relation to anxieties about exposing their children to negative aspects of U.S. culture in school. However, the reality of the hardship of separation set in, and parents are reluctant to send their children so far away. Tibetans in New Mexico have made the return trip to India to visit family and friends as often as finances and schedules permit, usually once every three to four years. Return visits are also discussed in terms of keeping their children in touch with the exile community and in terms of exposing them to the difficulties of living in refugee settlements in India. Building on this idea, the Dalai Lama has encouraged young Tibetans to return to India as a kind of service for the Tibetan community in exile. I mentioned to Tenzin Taklha that Tibetans in the United States had told me the Dalai Lama was encouraging youth to spend time in India serving the community. Tenzin Taklha responded: Yes, yes he suggested that in Europe too when we were there. And at the Kalachakra and he said not only Tibetans who are moving from [India to the West], but also Tibetans if they have grown up [in the West], “It’s good you know if you have some education it might be good for you to come back and work in the Tibetan communities for 2 or 3 years and help your people.” He’s frequently telling people that.

When I asked Lobsang (Namgyal’s father, who was quoted at the beginning of this chapter) if there were concerns for Tibetan children in the United

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States, he framed them in several ways relevant to our discussion. We see yet again the importance of constant recollection of the homeland: lobsang: Yes, there are certainly some areas where we are concerned and worried. Like . . . having excellent educational opportunities and not availing [themselves of] those opportunities. And not realizing how fortunate they are in terms of . . . availing [themselves of] those opportunities which do not exist for their own brothers, sisters back in Tibet under Chinese. So not realizing, or not understanding the comparativeness of the plight in Tibet and outside of Tibet and particularly in the West. . . . they are mentally drawn toward the exposure of TV and the media and so time wasted in those areas is also sad. Then losing of their cultural identity can be critical in the next few decades. When they have done fairly well in schools in the United States and then if they happen to travel one or two times back to India, Nepal, back to Tibetan communities. Then they may be a little wiser, a little understandable of the plight of Tibetans. So those are the areas that we can aspire, we can hope for, just to compensate for their mental attraction [to things in the West]. . . . Not taking [academics] seriously [is] of some concern. julia: So will you do that? Encourage children to go to India? lobsang: Yeah, we’d like to. I haven’t done so far. Many of the parents think so. Even his Holiness the Dalai Lama, at Bloomington, at the Kalachakra, he gave a special audience with the Tibetan community. There were about 600 Tibetans. And he emphasized that. He told the Tibetans that they can put couple of months or a year, or half a year or six months, to work for Tibetan community in exile.

As we have seen, youth have come to embrace the notion of personal achievement, but this is almost always framed in terms of benefits to the collective. Tsering told me that when she was younger she wanted to be a doctor “because I love children and I thought it would be good because there are not that many Tibetan women doctors and I wanted to do something that would inspire the other Tibetan girls.” But during our interview she expressed thoughts of becoming a lawyer, as it would more directly benefit the Tibet movement. When I asked the young Tibetans about the future that they envisioned for themselves, they recounted plans of study that included becoming lawyers, doctors,

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working for the United Nations, “leading an international life,” and writing a book about Tibetan youth as the “seeds of a future Tibet,” among other things. This encouragement to serve the exile community is just one facet of what I have seen in youth as the development of the idea of global citizenship. Tibetan youth, as we saw above, also expressed a simultaneous comfort with mobility and the idea that they do not really fit in anywhere. Combined, these attitudes create what I see as a link between being Tibetans and active global citizens working for their community, but with a larger view to improving the world.

Tibetan Youth as Cosmopolitans Breckenridge et al. (2002) theorize “cosmopolitanism” as an emergent discourse that looks beyond nation-states as the framework for ordering existence. The authors stress the uniform nature of cosmopolitan thinking: cosmopolitanism is an intellectual idea, yet it is not “some known entity existing in the world.” Similarly, “as a practice, too, cosmopolitanism is yet to come, something awaiting realization.” Further, the authors suggest that cosmopolitanism does not spring from the capitalized “virtues” of Rationality, Universality, and Progress; nor is it embodied in the myth of the nation writ large in the figure of the citizen of the world. Cosmopolitans today are often the victims of modernity, failed by capitalism’s upward mobility, and bereft of those comforts and customs of national belonging. Refugees, peoples of the diaspora, and migrants and exiles represent the spirit of the cosmopolitical community. (Breckenridge et al. 2002: 6)

In this way, Breckenridge et al.’s cosmopolitanism differs from Ong’s notion of “flexible citizenship,” to which I have referred in order to make sense of Tibetan diasporic expansion and the rationale for adopting citizenship in the United States and elsewhere. As Karen Kelsky writes in Women on the Verge (2001), “the requirement of flexibility has not affected all people equally: as many have noted, the global economy has created its own class system. . . . Some citizens are more flexible than others” (13). Moreover, Kelsky warns that cosmopolitanism is not a perspective available to us all: “Despite Clifford’s scrupulous efforts to enunciate a cosmopolitanism free from lingering auras of class, gender, and racial privilege, however, the term nevertheless applies awkwardly and incompletely to individuals who are not elite white men. If ‘we’ are really all cosmopolitans, as Rabinow claims, when are we so, and in what ways?” (14–15).

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And so we must ask: In what ways are Tibetan cosmopolitans similar to or different from other cosmopolitans? How does Tibetans’ status as a stateless people inflect and motivate their cosmopolitan identities? And further, how representative are cosmopolitan Tibetans of Tibetan society, or even of Tibetan youth as a whole? Unlike the Pacific Rim immigration to North America that Ong describes, the recent migratory movement of Tibetans is not a reflection of the ability to alter residency and citizenship as a result of access to economic capital. Insecure in diaspora, Tibetans are, in part, seeking safety and refuge. Yet, as Kelsky notes, cosmopolitanism has invaded the outposts of tradition. This is clearly seen among Tibetans in India as well: a cosmopolitan outlook does characterize youth perspectives in that young Tibetans can imagine the opportunities presented by the ability to move about in a global sphere—both for themselves as individuals, in terms of travel, education, and work, and for Tibetans collectively as they conceptualize political action for Tibet occurring on a global stage. However, Tibetans’ stateless status limits opportunities for education, for employment, and for mobility in general, thus limiting their ability to be as “flexible” or “cosmopolitan” as those without this impediment. The Tibetans who have resettled in the United States, as we have seen, represented two roughly distinguishable groups of exile society, at least at the outset: those who were well educated and skilled, and those who were not well resettled and who remained impoverished in India and Nepal, a group that includes recent arrivals from Tibet. Yet, in terms of economic capital and real wealth, members of these two groups were not that far apart in real economic terms. This is not to say that hierarchy and caste do not continue to hold importance in exile society; they clearly do. The point here is that while many members of the TUSRP were privileged to the extent possible in refugee society, their statelessness rendered them relatively immobile in a transnational sphere until the TUSRP gave them access to visas. But more to the point is that after fifteen years, the expansion of the diaspora is certainly causing the development of a broader range of class positions in exile society: the gulf between the developing world and the First World is still wide. Even Tibetans working in the service economy in the United States have access to far more capital and opportunity than most of their compatriots in Asia. The youth I write about here do in many senses represent the cream of exile youth society: some of them attended elite U.S. and European universities, but on the other hand, some attended community colleges. I do not want to present the picture that all Tibetan youth aspire to the professions and have access

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to such a route. This is clearly not the case: there are Tibetan youth who drop out of school, who are tempted by alcohol and drugs, and who have no professional ambitions. But in my experience, the educational aspirations of children and parents included in this chapter are widespread among Tibetans in the United States. So while the majority of first-generation immigrants to the United States work entry-level and service economy jobs, at least some of the transnational generation will almost surely become professionals and white-collar workers. At the same time, there are members of the transnational generation that may not fare so well, particularly those that came to the United States as teenagers. I have noticed that it seems especially difficult for these young people to do well or to even finish high school or attend college. In what ways are Tibetan cosmopolitans similar to other cosmopolitans? In what ways do they differ? As I have argued throughout the book, Tibetans, as a people without a state, are marginalized in many ways. As I suggested in Chapter 3, Tibetan discourse necessarily falls within a nationalistic framework, but also exceeds it. Tibetan youth, as followers of the Dalai Lama and as the children of a generation raised in exile, have been taught that their raison d’être is to support the Tibetan cause, which in their lifetimes has become increasingly internationalized. In this way they have been primed to lead a cosmopolitan existence. But perhaps we should take seriously the warnings some Tibetans issue with regard to diasporic expansion. As we saw, Tibetans in India worry that exile unity will be compromised as Tibetans scatter around the world. And further, some exiles argue that Tibetans who adopt citizenship in other countries are no longer refugees, and thus they are no longer “people out of place,” ceasing to be a “problem” for the states in which they live, and no longer a thorn in China’s side. Some argue that when Tibet (and Tibetans) are not seen as a problem for the states in which they live and for China, there will be little momentum to change the status quo. However, as I will argue in the next chapter, transformations in identity reflect transformations in state processes. The opposite is true as well; transformations of state policy affect identity formation. As Saskia Sassen (1996) points out, economic globalization requires transformations in state sovereignty (9). So too, increasing transnational migration requires transformations in the way states categorize the range of people that travel within and through its borders. In this way, Tibetans who talk and write about being both Tibetan and American are reflections of larger transformations among a broad range of people, not just those who are stateless or immigrants, but those who might be termed more broadly as “cosmopolitan.”

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Conclusion One could speculate that the increased acceptance and practice of emergent and hybrid notions of Tibetanness is a result of Tibetans encountering expanded, modern ideas of selfhood in the United States. Yet Desang, the U.S.born Tibetan quoted in this chapter, stated that he doesn’t identify as “American,” even though he has a native’s right to U.S. citizenship. I think his statement points to the limits placed on inclusion in the United States based primarily on race, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to a certain liberating inclusion that allows Desang to self-identify in a way that he chooses. To be sure, for this and other reasons discussed above, ethnic identification of Tibetans in the United States can already be seen as distinct from identity formation processes prevalent in India. And of course, these must be differentiated from the “traditional” Tibetan Tsering associates with her grandparents, as well as Tibetan identity as it is currently being produced vis-à-vis the Chinese state. As a result, there is fear and anxiety that the expansion of the diaspora will distance Tibetans from one another more than just geographically. At the same time, I cannot help but remember discussions with a Tibetan American friend I met in Dharamsala. One of the first Tibetans to be born in the United States during the early 1980s, she expressed no reservations about “feeling American.” She contrasted her feelings with those of a Swiss Tibetan who remarked that he knew he was not Swiss each day when he looked in the mirror. He was referring to Switzerland’s jus sanguinis citizenship model that privileges ethnic Swiss identity. Even though many Tibetans in Switzerland have adopted Swiss citizenship, those whose phenotype obviously marks them as different are constantly reminded of their “outsider” status. My friend’s sentiments contrasted strongly with the Swiss Tibetan’s feelings about belonging to his adopted country. Perhaps in response to my constant questioning about immigrant identity issues, I remember her reminding me at one point that she was not an immigrant, although her parents were. Ironically, in India her Tibetan identity was questioned by those who did not recognize her Tibetanness—she was met on many occasions with disbelief that she was ethnically Tibetan. Perhaps my friend more accurately represents the coming generation of U.S.-born Tibetan youth, who will feel more secure in their American identities. Yet, the other young people quoted above seemed to assert their Tibetan identity as a choice, as a source of strength and pride of difference that is perhaps a reflection of the contradictory reality of the United

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States, which supports pluralism and yet still defines the abstract citizen as “white.” But for now, I suggest that Tibetans have become “at home,” as it were, in their diasporic identities. I have found young Tibetans to be increasingly engaged with what I have called “diaspora consciousness.” Diasporic identities are in many ways predicated on movement, albeit movement with a specific trajectory—“home” to Tibet. I argue that in the absence of an immediate possibility of return, akin to Ong’s notion of “flexible citizenship” (1999), Tibetans are taking advantage of increased opportunities for movement to achieve their political and economic goals. It is not coincidental that the increasingly widespread and rapid movement of bodies, of technology, and of capital characterizes the present moment. The trajectory of diaspora has become increasingly broad—escape from Tibet with the inability to return, a second home in India, and now, for a few, release into the seemingly limitless cosmopolitan expanse of the United States, Europe, and beyond. Those with U.S. passports are increasingly able to imagine a future of movement, going anywhere they please, including “home” to Tibet, even if it is just for a visit. This movement has accompanied the perception among diasporic youth that not only have their opportunities expanded, but also their responsibility to act like global citizens. And this, I suggest, is becoming the new framework on which Tibetans are hanging their identities in an international arena where they remain stateless.


Statelessness and the State: The Meanings of Citizenship

Introduction IN JANUARY 1999 I accompanied Sonam to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was there to to be fingerprinted—the next-to-last step in becoming a U.S. citizen. Sonam filled out a set of forms on a clipboard before being called back to an INS officer’s cubicle. When she emerged, Sonam told me that she had encountered difficulty when the officer attempted to enter her place of birth in his computer database. Born in Tibet in 1958, she had filled in the box labeled “Place of Birth” with “Tibet.” The officer told her that she could not put Tibet as her place of birth—it was not an option on his computer’s pull-down menu—and that she would have to put “China.” When she protested, he said that it was “China” or stop the process entirely. For the moment she acquiesced, but she was upset as we left the building. This case illustrates a problem that Tibetans encountered repeatedly as they applied for visas and citizenship in the United States and points directly to the dilemmas posed by the intersection of states and nonstates. States define “refugees” and “immigrants” in flexible and often contradictory ways. Here, I explore the ways in which individual actors resist and negotiate state-defined categories of nationality and civil status. Tibetans’ responses to categorizations as dictated by the state, in this case the U.S. government, particularly the U.S. State Department and the INS, demonstrate the effects of such categorizations. An examination of the processes required to become a citizen of the United States illuminates both state categorizations and Tibetan responses. Naturalization occurs through a process of domination, never totalizing, that requires would-be citizens to make themselves subject to the state. To illuminate 213

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this process of “naturalization”1 I describe particular encounters with bureaucracy and how several Tibetans engaged with U.S. government agencies on their way to becoming citizens. This focus highlights agency among individual Tibetans to show how, through their engagements and negotiations with state agencies, their subjectivities are simultaneously delineated by the state and crafted and experienced by individuals themselves. Moreover, it is my contention that by examining such engagements and the end result of these negotiations, we are looking at emergent “structures of feeling” (Williams 1977) that characterize the policies and ideologies of nation-states as well as current transnational subjectivities.

Bureaucracy as a “Technology of Power” Immigrants to the United States are eligible to become citizens after five years of permanent residence. In the citizenship process, Tibetans encounter statedefined categories or, as I shall demonstrate, categorical “omissions” and rhetorical maneuvering that characterize bureaucracy as a “technology of power.” As Foucault suggests, power over the body does not happen only through physical violence: “there may be a ‘knowledge’of the body that is not exactly the science of its functioning, and a mastery of its forces that is more than the ability to conquer them: this knowledge and this mastery constitute what might be called the political technology of the body” (Foucault 1984: 173). There are fissures and disjunctures in state-driven processes. An examination of individual Tibetans’ agency as they interact with intermediaries of the state (particularly the former INS2 and the State Department) illuminates not only the way the state creates its “subjects” but also strategic political alignments between states, and perhaps even larger shifts in nation-state ideologies and practices in a global sphere. At the same time, it shows how human agency, through resistance and accommodation, highlights fissures in the state’s hegemonic practices. I attempt to incorporate Foucault’s perspective concerning the coercive power of the state, and also to consider the ways individuals and collectivities engage with the state, resist it, and thus change its form (in addition to being made subject to the state). We must recall the arguments of Abrams (1988) and Corrigan and Sayer (1985), who insist that we must not reify the power of the state. As Gramsci (1971), Bhabha (1994), and others have shown, it is in the fissures and the cracks of state hegemony that productive, transformative critiques of state power flourish. First, it is critical to understand Tibetan immigration to the United States in a wide geopolitical context: we should recall the global and national political con-

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text in which Tibetan immigration to the United States took place, as discussed in Chapter 5. The events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 left many in the U.S. Congress more willing to risk China’s ire than before; the breakup of the Soviet Union also compelled many to be more optimistic about the potential for change in China. Saskia Sassen, among others, has noted that “the worldwide evidence shows rather clearly that there is considerable patterning in the geography of migrations, and that the major receiving countries tend to get migrants from their zones of influence” (1996: 11). It is clear that U.S. policies toward Tibet and other countries in the region shaped and continue to shape immigration and refugee policy. Tian (1995) examined U.S.-Tibet policy from the Nixon administration through Bill Clinton’s first term in office. He argues that U.S. policy is characterized by a tension between creating a strong economic alliance with China and responding to the Tibet issue in keeping with a moral discourse espoused by the United States, which purportedly supports democracy and human rights throughout the world. The argument I am making here is similar; the rest of the chapter will focus on these issues refracted through the experiences of Tibetans as they become citizens of the United States.

Becoming Naturalized: Filling in the Blanks, Proscribing the Political Body In the drafting of the 1990 Immigration Act and in negotiations between the first Bush administration and Congress, the way Tibetans were categorized was of crucial importance. Not surprisingly, problems with the category “Tibet” have repeatedly arisen throughout the resettlement and “naturalization” process. The first group of the “Lucky 1,000” Tibetan immigrants from India to the United States found that their U.S.-issued visas listed “China” as their place of birth. Nancy Lindberg, working on the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP) in India, described the ensuing events: The other big thing, this happened with departure group number one, all the visas said they were from “China.” I went and picked up the visas and brought them back to the settlement and we opened them and they all said, “Birthplace: China.” And they are all like, “We are not ‘China.’ ” And they all unanimously voted to give their visas back. I went back to the U.S. Consulate, I believe that there was another assistant, I said, “Hey this says China, this is not what they signed up for!” I don’t know if it was a day, or two days they came up with this category: “stateless.”

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During an interview in 2000, an official of the Tibetan government-in-exile recalled that the would-be immigrants felt that if China were to be listed as their place of birth, all their years of exile would have been in vain. The affronted Tibetans threatened to stay in India rather than have China listed as their place of birth. After several days, the problem was remedied by substituting the code “xxx” for their birthplace. According to U.S. Consulate officials in New Delhi, “xxx” is used throughout the system to mean “stateless.” Tibetans’ challenge to U.S. State Department policy is meaningful in light of the high value placed on a visa that allows immigration to the United States. One of the people who worked on the TUSRP told me that she heard complaints in Dharamsala at the time of the controversy that some feared the first group of Tibetans would ruin everyone else’s chances by refusing the visas with “China” on them. This confrontation with state policy shows how technologies of power can fail to subjugate. At the same time, through the substitution of a code, however meaningless to the Tibetans, the state was able to characterize them as it pleased, by substituting one bureaucratic maneuver to respond to the failure of another. The same problem recurred during family reunification in December 1997, when Tibetans once again found their visas stating “China” was their country of birth. Copies of memos sent from the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi to the International Campaign for Tibet show that the visa problem caused a delay for approximately eighty Tibetans attempting to reunite with their families in the United States. The problem took approximately two weeks to resolve. “Resident aliens” (green card holders) can apply for citizenship after five years of residence in the United States. The first step in applying for citizenship consisted of completing the INS’s N-400 form. Applicants were required to divulge the usual demographic information, but even here cultural differences emerged to reveal differing expectations of what information is important. Among Tibetans, for example, many do not know their date of birth because birthdays are not generally celebrated in Tibetan society (although this is changing, especially among Tibetans in the United States). For purposes of obtaining documentation in India, for immigration, travel, and work visas, and naturalization, Tibetans have had to invent a birth date, often July 1, as it falls in the middle of the calendar year. Furthermore, the N-400 form required information concerning every job and residence the applicant had occupied since arrival in the United States; the last place of employment in their former country of residence with addresses, dates, and reasons for leaving the country; and information on

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marital history and all children of the applicant. Authors of the citizenship materials that help people prepare these forms strongly caution people against falsifying or omitting information when answering these questions, warning that they may be asked “difficult questions” (Becker and Edwards 1995: 2). One question on the form captures the issue at hand. The question was included in a section titled “Additional information about you,” which was presented simply as a box with the label “Citizenship.” This box posed a dilemma for stateless Tibetans. As I was assisting one Tibetan in filling out the application, I read from the form: “OK, next question: Citizenship.” He said, “Citizenship? I don’t have citizenship, I am currently a resident alien of the United States.” I explained that the INS wanted to know the country where he currently held citizenship. He responded, “But I don’t have citizenship!” Of course he was right, but there was a blank space on a form that I was concerned should be “properly” filled out. This incident prompted me to call the Albuquerque Border City Project (ABC), a nonprofit organization that served as an information clearinghouse for immigrants in New Mexico. I described the situation, the Tibetans’ stateless status, and our intention to make sure the application for citizenship went as smoothly as possible. Our conversation unfolded as follows: abc staff: Well, where was this person born? julia: Tibet, but nobody recognizes it as an independent country. abc staff: Well, who controls Tibet? julia: China. abc staff: Well, then he must be Chinese.

I suggested to the woman at ABC that perhaps it would be acceptable to write, “Tibetan refugee—India” or “Nepal,” as appropriate. She thought that would be fine as long as we put an asterisk in the box and included a separate piece of paper explaining the situation. Somewhat indignant, I said, “You would think that they would know about cases like this, especially if there was legislation passed specifically to allow Tibetans to immigrate.” She then cautioned me that the Tibetans should not leave anything to chance; to have an answer ready with back up materials to prove it. If the interview process stalls at any point over any such “miscommunication,” the INS officer can terminate the interview on the grounds that the applicant does not understand English or is not demonstrating the “appropriate attitude” toward the naturalization process. This conundrum highlights the fact that in a world organized around the idea of the nation-state, “statelessness” is a highly ambiguous, marginal category.

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Scholars of refugees and diaspora have long noted the threat this ambiguity brings with it and the processes of dehumanization and assumptions of amorality and depravity that go along with this category (see Malkki 1992, 1995). As Victor Turner (1967) suggests: “transitional beings are particularly polluting, since they are neither one thing nor another; or may be both; or neither here nor there, or may even be nowhere (in terms of any recognized cultural topography), and are at the very least ‘betwixt and between’ all the recognized fixed points in the space-time classification” (97). Of course, there was no judgment at this “site” on the blank form. There was just no answer, which of course is not acceptable. When I asked the advice of a range of people, it had never occurred to them that there were people who could claim no citizenship. My overriding concern was for Tibetans who might fill out the form “incorrectly” or, when asked a question about it at the interview, might say simply, as my informant had, “I don’t have citizenship,” thus “alienating” the interviewer so completely that she or he would become prejudiced against their case. As I continued with my research, my own bureaucratic naiveté became clearer to me. These encounters with bureaucracy, specifically with the INS in the company of those who were not U.S.-born citizens, revealed both the privileges of being a natural-born citizen and the way bureaucracy delineates hegemony. However, we should pay close attention, as Lisa Lowe (1996) and other theorists (Gramsci 1971; Bhabha 1994) suggest, to the contradictions and the gaps in hegemonic discourses, because this is where counterhegemonic movements emerge. I suggest that Tibetans’ responses, both collective and individual, to these processes reveal the character of emerging counterhegemonic discourses that are the result of mobility and loyalty to multiple nations and states. It is my contention, then, that what we are witnessing is not just how people who have been identified as “stateless” cope with bureaucracy but also the emergence of new discourses about what it means to be a citizen. And furthermore, I suggest that discourses often emerge through the action of individuals and groups as they are compelled, often directly by the state, to act. The next part of the chapter describes this kind of agency and how it affects change.

The Meanings of Citizenship As discussed in Chapter 8, one of the reasons Tibetans adopt U.S. citizenship is so they can visit Tibet. But the motivations are, of course, more complicated and vary from individual to individual. Some express enthusiasm, others reluctance or ambivalence. One woman told me she was extremely “emotional”

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the day she became a citizen; others see it as a practical action or one in which they have little choice. Significantly, many Tibetans articulate and are consciously negotiating multiple loyalties. Pema, the young father who was working hard to educate his children, described his feelings about adopting U.S. citizenship this way: I feel it is a great idea to have United States citizenship. Since I am living in this country and then you be[come] more a citizen of this country. I feel it is great to be a citizen of a great country. I am proud to become a citizen of the United States. But still I love Tibet, even though, and my heart goes to Tibet all the time. And even if I become United States citizen I will not feel [divided] from Tibet.

The following quote is from an interview, conducted in 1999, with Dondup, the nineteen-year-old Tibetan youth who had resettled with his family in New Mexico. His statement reflects a level of anxiety about the relationship between nationality, ethnicity, and citizenship: I’m really scared of the future. Because when I first came here, and I started to have aims about what I would be in America and everything, I thought I would be an American citizen first so that I could go to Tibet under the passport of an American citizen. They would let me in because I am an American citizen, not a Tibetan. But then I started thinking again and again. And then there is paranoia about if I become an American citizen, then I am not Tibetan. And then I say to myself, “No you are Tibetan to the core, it’s just the outside picture!” Then another self says, “No you are wrong, you will become American, you’re not Tibetan anymore.” There is a kind of paranoia there. But what I would really like to do is be American, be Tibetan, and then help more towards the Tibetan cause.

Other Tibetans recalled an intensely emotional experience when they participated in a citizenship ceremony and took the oath: lhamo: I was very emotional. It was very very hard. I mean . . . until that day I didn’t realize it was such a big day. I think my group was the biggest, the second biggest group. When I took my oath I was very emotional. I am not saying that I was happy. I was kind of upset, I was disturbed and I had tears and I didn’t know, and I came right away and told my husband, you know there were people you know having a real nice time, taking video, pictures, sharing but I just, I just was very emotional.

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julia: And you don’t know why? lhamo: No, and I talked to my best friend and she thinks because I have been alone for five to six years, that everything came back to me that day. At work, everybody had planned a party, I didn’t even go back, because I was so emotional I called them, I said, you know, I just don’t think I can make it.

Lhamo’s emotional response to becoming a U.S. citizen reflects the expressive, yet uncategorizable, aspects of transforming the self. As we saw in Chapter 5, the government-in-exile rhetorically framed the TUSRP as a politically positive move for Tibetans in exile. In other words, by becoming U.S. citizens Tibetans can be good ambassadors for their lost homeland. Tibetans’ status as spokespersons for their homeland is one of the most significant aspects of Tibetan immigration to the United States. In this way, part of the anxiety caused by moving away from the center of Tibetan culture in exile is assuaged for Tibetans as they use their newfound status as U.S. residents and citizens to further the movement for an independent Tibet. Furthermore, concern with legal status and citizenship is not confined to discourse and ideologies: identifying documents and their usage have real-life consequences for people. A U.S. passport enables many Tibetans who have never been to Tibet, or who left when they were so young they do not remember it, to visit Tibet with the protection U.S. citizenship affords.

“Place of Birth: Lhasa” or “Dege” or “Purang,” but Not “Tibet” On a U.S. passport there is a place on the inside cover for “Place of Birth.” In 1999, after many recently naturalized Tibetans applied for U.S. passports, several Tibetans in New Mexico told me that they had received passports with “China” entered as place of birth, even though they had entered “Tibet” as a response to this question. These people were born in Tibet prior to 1959, the year the People’s Republic of China (PRC) officially dissolved the Tibetan government, therefore “liberating Tibet” and “reuniting it with the motherland.” However, if the State Department allows Tibetans to have “Tibet” listed as their place of birth, there is implicit acknowledgment that Tibet was once independent from China. After an attempt to communicate distress over the decision directly to the INS, one Santa Fe Tibetan called Senator Pete Domenici to complain and to determine another course of action. The Tibetan told me that although it was determined that “China” would not be listed as his “Place of Birth,” “Tibet”

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was not an acceptable response either. He could, however, put the name of the region or town where he was born in Tibet. Another Tibetan in Albuquerque told me the same thing, and that the compromise was outlined in a letter from the State Department. The risk was that if she were to visit a country “unfriendly” to the United States, her passport might not be accepted because the “Place of Birth” listed on her passport is not a recognized state. Shortly after this incident occurred, I called the U.S. Tibet Committee and discovered that Tibetans obtaining U.S. passports in 1977 encountered this same problem, and through their protests, U.S. Tibetans and the State Department had arrived at what seemed to be an acceptable compromise. However, apparently at least some Tibetans applying for passports in the late 1990s were not aware of the subsequent change in legislation. According to Tian (1995): By 1978, there were about 20 Tibetan American citizens and 150 Tibetans in the United States. The issue emerged when a Tibetan American named Ngawang Phakchok, born in Tibet in 1943, applied for an American passport in August 1977 to go to Bomdila, India. When he received his passport two weeks later, he found that his passport listed China and not Tibet as his birthplace. He protested to the State Department in Washington, arguing that when he came to the United States in 1969 and became an American citizen on June 22, 1976, all his records showed Tibet as his birthplace; that Tibetans were culturally, linguistically and racially different people; and that when he was born in Tibet, no Chinese people were there. He refused to accept the passport with China listed on his passport and delayed his trip. In a letter of reply to Phakchok, Mr. William B. Wharton, chief of the legal division of the passport office, stated that it was not an error and that “Tibet is located in present-day China. Therefore China will have to be listed as your place of birth.” (50–51)

Tian then asserts that this did not mean that the U.S. government was unwilling to recognize that Tibet was once an independent country. Tibetan Americans subsequently launched a campaign to change U.S. policy. The first-ever protest by Tibetans in the United States was held on Capitol Hill on July 19, 1978 (Tibetan Review 1978). They eventually received the support of fourteen members of Congress, who wrote a letter to President Carter charging that the administration was more concerned with appeasing China than with the concerns of its own citizens (Tian 1995: 60). Confronted with the pressure from Congress, the administration adopted a holding strategy, saying that the policy on birthplace listing was under “urgent

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review” (Tibetan Review 1978: 10; Tian 1995). The review was not completed until normalization negotiations with China were successful. The U.S. Tibet Committee informed Tibetan Americans and other interested people in early 1979 that Tibetan Americans no longer had to list China as their birthplace under a new general U.S. policy on the listing of birthplace on passports. The new policy was that “U.S. citizens born abroad may now list the city or town of their birth, rather than the country, if they object to entry of the name of the country of birth as it is presently known” (Tian 1995: 61–62). According to an undated letter addressed to Senator Barry Goldwater from Robert E. Lamb, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services, As a result of a recent policy review conducted on this matter, the Department has amended its general policy concerning listing of birth. United States citizens born abroad may now list the city of birth, rather than the country, if they object to the name of the country as it is presently known. The name of the city or town of birth may be the name at the date of the applicant’s birth or the current name whichever the applicant wishes. (Lamb, n.d.)

Tian describes this policy as a firm statement on the part of the U.S. government recognizing China’s sovereignty over Tibet: This was a confirmation of the Administration’s earlier policy of acknowledging China’s full control of Tibet and of the U.S. position that Tibet was a part of China. This position negated the earlier double-negative ambivalent position of the Administration and its predecessor on the legal status of Tibet. That Tibet is part of China became U.S. policy from then on. (61–62)

It was not until the final years of the George H. W. Bush administration— not insignificantly, the years directly after the TUSRP was launched—that the U.S. Congress began to pass legislation specifically stating that Tibet is an occupied country, marking an incremental change in U.S.-Tibet policy. It is clear from the examples above that categorizing people is an essential act of states. Although the decision to allow people to put the town or region where they are from rather than “the country as it is currently known” could be described as an artful dodge, it is also indicative that the policy of the state sometimes operates outside of the boundaries that limit it.

Conclusion My initial reaction the day I went with my friend, who was to be fingerprinted, was that she was dealing with a typical bureaucratic problem of bald-faced

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rigidity, an inability to deal with ambiguous categories outside the paradigm of nation-states. This was particularly well exemplified by the computer with the pull-down menu and the limited number of options. During the course of my research, the extent to which this was a question of international politics, not simply of bureaucratic strictures, became evident. What was most interesting to me then and now is the tension between individual will, emotion, and agency and the interaction with bureaucracy, or “technologies of power.” One Tibetan I spoke with about this problem stated with some frustration that he could understand if he was born post-1959, after the PRC had annexed Tibet, but he was born prior to 1959. He said, “Do they think I am a fool? That I do not know where I am born?” This is a telling statement: it is precisely because he was born in a place called Tibet, that is now called something else by the United States, that this poses a problem. Another man told me that he compared U.S. policy (or what he thought was U.S. policy prior to learning of the compromise) on this issue to that of a totalitarian regime. The problem is not really one of liminality, of ambiguity, it is really quite the opposite: the State Department is acting strategically within the limits of its current policy toward China. The response of the state is quite within the confines of nation-state ideologies: the United States never officially recognized Tibet as an independent state, and to do so now would be counterproductive to U.S.-China relations. However, it is clear from the actions outlined in this chapter, including the change of policy regarding listing of birth and other actions such as “informal” meetings between the Dalai Lama and Bill Clinton (Mitchell 1997), that the United States does have relationships with the government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, and moreover undertakes actions such as allowing the entry of 1,000 Tibetan immigrants that indirectly act to promote the cause of Tibetan independence. Yet, clearly, the actions cited above also show that the U.S. government’s relationship with the Chinese is paramount to the U.S.-Tibet relationship. In November 1999, the Clinton administration ensured that China would become a member of the World Trade Organization. Despite attempts on the part of various legislators and U.S. senators, the Clinton administration delinked most-favored-nation trade status from China’s human rights record. The State Department’s decision to allow people to put the city where they were born in lieu of the name of the country as it is currently referred to was described to me by one Tibetan “as the lesser of two evils.” While I would argue that this policy reflects the contentious nature of U.S.-Tibet/U.S.-China policy, it is when we discuss its application and examine the responses of Tibetans who have made the decision to become U.S. citizens that the way state policies

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simultaneously subjugate and fail to subjugate becomes evident. Moreover, the inability of state ideologies to encompass complex, emergent, transnational, or as Appadurai (1996) has called them, “postnational” subjectivities, occurs simultaneously with the creation and fostering of these subjectivities by institutions of the state. Tibetan migration to the United States from its inception was laced with complex motivating factors including a desire on the part of individuals for a better life, the desire for individuals in the United States to improve the prospects of Tibetan exiles generally, and the political motivations of the government-inexile. The policy that disallows Tibetans born in Tibet to state this on their passports, while accurately reflecting the ambiguity in U.S. policy toward Tibet and China, is ultimately a reflection of the way people are incorporated into the state. It is a reflection of the contradictory processes that comprise inclusion in the state, and in turn reinforces processes that contribute to the experience of fractured, multiple subjectivities in that they are led to recognize that the United States in fact does accommodate the fantasy of plural belonging. This is the fantasy, as Appadurai (1996) puts it, “of becoming American while somehow staying diasporic, of an expansive attachment to an unbound fantasy space” (170). Not allowing Tibetans to claim “Tibet” as a place of birth caused many exile Tibetans to take a stance, to confront what they were told was state policy, and to take the risk of angering their hosts with their attachment to “ideology,” to a place, and to their self-identification as belonging to that place, even as they “naturalized” as U.S. citizens. Remarkably, they did succeed in changing U.S. policy in the process—however, in a way not entirely to their liking. Appadurai adds, “but while we can make our identities, we cannot do so exactly as we please. As many of us find ourselves racialized, biologized, minoritized, somehow reduced rather than enabled by our bodies and our histories, our special diacritics become our prisons” (1996: 170). So in this “diasporic fantasy space” there is also the demoralization and anger of not being admitted to the body politic on one’s own terms. I argue that the emotion produced by this engagement with bureaucracy signals much more than frustration with its foibles. It reveals a trace of the violence done to selves as they are admitted into the body politic, yet in various ways “reduced” and “enlarged,” caught between politics, history, and emergent identities.

Conclusion: Tibetans in the New World

ARTICLE 15 OF THE Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that

“everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” The UN High Commission for Refugees has in recent years increasingly recognized problems of “statelessness” and expended time and resources dealing with them (e.g., United Nations High Commission for Refugees 2006). Bragaw (1999) makes a distinction between de jure and de facto statelessness: Under international law, a stateless person is one “who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law” (Article 1, 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons). This definition is helpfully concise and to the point. But it is also a very limited and somewhat legalistic definition, referring to a specific group of people known as de jure stateless persons. It does not encompass the many people, usually described as de facto stateless persons, who are unable to establish their nationality or whose citizenship is disputed by one or more countries. The notion of statelessness it its broader sense [should include] all those people who lack what has become known as an “effective nationality,” and who are consequently unable to enjoy the rights that are associated with citizenship.

Tibetans in Tibet are entitled to Chinese citizenship. As we have seen, Tibetans born in India are able, through a series of bureaucratic maneuvers, to obtain Indian citizenship. However, most Tibetans in exile in South Asia have chosen to remain “stateless.” Tibetans in the United States, by contrast, are choosing to adopt U.S. citizenship. As my research suggests, even as they become 225



“American,” Tibetans continue to claim their status as refugees and as stateless people. In terms of their own concept of collective and individual identity, they remain stateless; further, they continue to hope and act for the restoration of their lost homeland, and many say that when it is restored they plan to return. Simultaneously, they understand that U.S. citizenship confers rights, privileges, and responsibilities both toward Tibet and toward their new country, the United States. Thus, they are both stateless and citizens, retaining their Tibetan identity and forging a new, American one. These emerging transnational and cosmopolitan discourses, which rely on notions of cultural and religious rights, interdependence, mobility, and responsibility, are not unique to Tibetans. My hope is that this ethnographic research, which focuses on particularities of a specific people, can illuminate larger, widespread phenomena and help us to see them in new ways. The dynamics and discourses of statelessness and diaspora inflect many of the most significant conflicts of our time, including those involving Kurds, Palestinians, and many other lesser-known groups, such as Uighurs. And although there are myriad differences in the historical and political trajectories of these struggles, the focus of this book—the production of diasporic identity in an increasingly globalized world—is salient for these groups, and others as well. More attention needs to be paid to the international and transnational contexts in which identity production—and consequently important social, political, and technological transformations and movements—is developing, circulating, and contributing to global change. I have shown how Tibetans have incorporated and responded to prominent discursive ideologies such as human rights, cultural preservation, and nationalism, and how they have built on those ideologies through the Dalai Lama’s rhetoric and policy, which emphasize interdependence and universal responsibility. It may be instructive to examine how these and other “ideoscapes”—to use Appadurai’s term—inflect and animate the struggles of other stateless and diasporic people. Just as “statelessness” operates for Tibetans in two discrete yet interrelated spheres—one related to internalized processes of identity formation and the other to externalized processes of discourse production and circulation—there are two related risks for Tibetans and others in the twenty-first century. The first is that in the diaspora different versions of Tibetanness are arising in disparate localities. We have already seen how different cultural practices and different understandings of (and identification with) Tibet have resulted in friction between the first wave of Tibetans who arrived in exile shortly after 1959 and those



more recent arrivals who have come since the 1980s. These kinds of disparities and disjunctures will continue to deepen and broaden as the diaspora expands. The danger lies not in the evolving differences but in Tibetans’ responses to them. Diaspora identity, as I argued in the Introduction, is shot through with contradiction. There is the contradiction of longing for home and trying to make a second home in a place one never quite belongs. These tensions can be a creative force in the construction of individual identity as well as collective identity. Although Tibetans are marginalized in many ways, by “race,” ethnicity, legal status, and class, the Western fascination with Tibet at least gives Tibetans a platform. This does not ensure that their voices will be heard. As we have often seen, in some ways it ensures that their words will be understood according to preexisting frameworks that trivialize their perspective. But as this book makes clear, Tibetans have not been afraid to use their “voice,” not only in ways that call attention to their cause and protect their cultural identity but also in ways that challenge state policies. Tibetan concerns for unity in the expanding diaspora are no doubt well founded. At the same time, however, embracing a diversity of perspectives that will inevitably flourish in the diaspora can also be a source of strength. The second risk involves the question of how Tibetans and others will position themselves, and find themselves positioned, in relation to the emerging ideoscape of the twenty-first century. The clearest historic marker of the emergence of this ideoscape is the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath. This ideoscape features ideologies and standpoints that crosscut ethnicity, religion, and nationality in new ways—terms such as human rights, democracy, and freedom. The terms terror, terrorist, and terrorism have also been increasingly deployed, yet remain open to varying definitions and interpretations; they are applied indiscriminately by states and actors within state systems, as well as between them (see Hess 2009). These ideologies and categorizations are used both by states and by transnational organizations and movements that cannot be reduced to single parameters in terms of religious, ethnic, and national origins or affiliations, like Al-Qaeda, the environmental movement, the human rights movement, and others. The final edits to this manuscript were completed in March 2008, as the largest protests against Chinese rule in Tibet in twenty years broke out in Lhasa and in neighboring Chinese provinces with large ethnic Tibetan populations— Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan. These protests occurred on the eve of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, beginning with a nonviolent protest on



March 10 in Lhasa by monks in support of their compatriots, imprisoned since their arrest for demonstrations against Chinese rule when the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal in October 2007. The widespread nature of the protests, and the violence used by of some of the protestors, has been variously interpreted by media (both Chinese and Western), human rights analysts, and members of the Chinese and Tibetan communities around the world, as well as ordinary readers and commentators of newspapers and Web sites reading about the protests and the subsequent crackdown (see Norbu 2008). Some in the Western media have declared that China was more concerned about the internal response to its putting down of the protests in Tibet than about the international outcry (Yardley 2008). The Chinese government seemed indignant that its actions were seen as harsh, when it viewed its response as one marked primarily by restraint. At the same time, many ordinary Chinese citizens thought that the government response was too lenient, remarking that criminals should be resoundingly punished. Jim Yardley (reporting for the New York Times) quotes a woman who became increasingly agitated as the Tibet situation dominated her online discussion groups: “ ‘We couldn’t believe our government was being so weak and cowardly,’ said Ms. Meng, 52, an office worker, who was appalled that the government had initially failed to quell the violence. ‘The Dalai Lama is trying to separate China, and it is not acceptable at all. We must crack down on the rioters’ ” (Yardley 2008). The Chinese government immediately used the opportunity to equate Tibetans (and Uighurs) with terrorists (Times Online 2008). The Dalai Lama, for his part, condemned the Chinese government’s “rule of terror” and called on the People’s Republic of China to stop committing “cultural genocide” in Tibet (Agence France-Presse 2008). Demonstrations in solidarity with Tibetans in China were organized around the world, in Dharamsala, Delhi, Santa Fe, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York. Tibetans and their supporters effectively disrupted many events commemorating the Summer Olympics, in particular the lighting of the Olympic flame in Greece, and dogged the flame as it traversed the world on its way to Beijing. Conversations with Tibetans in India as well as in the United States were marked by expressions of extreme emotion and sadness. A friend in Dharamsala wrote me that she couldn’t think of anything else and was “crying all the time.” Western media detailed a fissure in the Tibet movement in which young Tibetans, especially, were frustrated with the effects of the Dalai Lama’s attempts to bargain with the Chinese over the status of Tibet. In particular, they were



frustrated with his stance that the future of Tibet lies within the Chinese state, his consequent renunciation of any claims of independence, and his willingness to accept first “genuine” and now “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet (Sengupta 2008). As we saw in Chapter 8, young Tibetans in India and in the United States are more easily able to articulate a position that rejects the Dalai Lama’s political strategy while still revering him as a religious leader. As I watched footage of the protests on YouTube and read and listened to accounts by a range of media sources, I recalled the words of a young Tibetan in Dharamsala who explained why he didn’t completely reject the use of violence by Tibetans in the future: “Look at the Palestinians, they use violence and people all around the world have heard of them and their cause. Nobody knows anything about the Tibetans because we have been so quiet.” The Dalai Lama’s continued exhortations to his followers to refrain from using violence—all the while recognizing the pent-up frustration and anger of Tibetans at the economic discrimination, the restrictions of religious freedoms, and especially the limits to freedom of expression that mark their lives under Chinese rule—do not speak only to a pragmatic political philosophy. The perspective of many Tibetans and their international cadre of supporters is that Tibetans’ generally nonviolent approach to their situation has given their cause moral weight, and that continuing to take the higher ground is not only the right thing to do, but also the only viable strategy, given the might of China and the expectations of the international community. For me, these latest events have served to showcase the power of the Tibetan diaspora, which has increased dramatically in the United States by virtue of the TUSRP. The protests in the United States and Europe have had such momentum because there are simply more Tibetans than ever before living in the West. Moreover, as we have seen, these immigrants take their ambassadorial roles seriously. There are Tibetans living in every major U.S. city who wield the power of cell phones, the Internet, and video cameras as well as their increasing knowledge and savvy about U.S. and international media and politics. I have been fascinated by the role of technology in the uprising. For example, during a protest and subsequent confrontation with Chinese police, a Tibetan with a cell phone in Gansu called his brother in Dharamsala. The brother in Dharamsala recorded the phone conversation, including a description of the protest and the sound of gunshots, and posted it on the Internet for millions around the world to access. The pictures of bloody corpses, documenting the Chinese response to the protests, belied the official statements of dead in the dozens.



These photos were blown up to poster size and hung up publicly in Dharamsala, and in Santa Fe, where I recently watched eleven Tibetans and four Western supporters shave their heads to demonstrate their sadness and mourning for what is happening in Tibet. Clearly, these actions do have a global effect— and they reverberated around the world at breathtaking speed. The question I began with was: How do Tibetans with U.S. passports conceive of their Tibetan identity? The question for them has been: How can they translate their new citizenship and increased mobility into the opportunity to speak more effectively for their compatriots in Tibet? We are witnessing the latest episode in the struggle as Tibetans, more than ever before, are aware of Western, Chinese, and their own disparate views of the current situation. Thus, Tibetans have a wider audience and a broader array of tactics, and are acutely sensitive to the available discourses and their currency in global politics. For me, Tibetans’ adoption of new technology, and their willingness to engage with Western, Chinese, and their own exilic discourses about Tibet and its relationship to China and the world, inspire hope that they are not only up to the challenge of articulating their case in the twenty-first century, but are actually changing the way we think about Tibet and its place in the world. What remains to be seen is whether they will be able to affect change for their brothers and sisters who remain in Tibet, their voices not completely silenced but muffled under the might of the Chinese state.


Introduction 1. Pseudonyms are used throughout the book to protect the anonymity of my informants. The only exceptions are those who had professional roles related to the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP). 2. Aleinikoff includes a discussion of the requirement of those taking the U.S. citizenship oath to “renounce and abjure loyalty to any foreign prince, potentate or sovereign.” For many individuals, the laws of their country of original citizenship do not require giving up their citizenship rights when becoming a citizen of another country. He quotes Peter Spiro, who has suggested changing the U.S. oath to reflect the possibility of maintaining loyalty to more than one state: “In a world of liberal states . . . the necessity of exclusive allegiances has largely dissipated; where peace prevails, there is no inconsistency in dual or even multiple attachments” (Aleinikoff 2000: 147). 3. “Tibetanness” is a word that is used both by Tibet scholars (Nowak 1984: 85; McLagan 1997; Diehl 2002) and by Tibetans themselves. I use it throughout the book to refer to an ever-changing notion of what it means to be Tibetan that is articulated so forcefully by my informants in a transnational context. 4. Toni Huber’s (1997) analysis of Dharamsala elites’ rhetorical positioning of Tibetans vis-à-vis the Environmental Movement relies on just this bifurcated set of images. Huber writes of representations of Tibetans that emphasize “a systematic and reflexive ‘ecological’ consciousness akin to that developed recently in modern scientific thought. Moreover, this consciousness is one which Tibetans have applied to large-scale regional ecosystems for quite some time” (105). In this way, Huber points out the ways the government-in-exile presents Tibetans as better environmentalists than the Chinese government, thus providing another reason, beyond human, cultural, and religious rights, to change the status quo. 231

232 Notes to Pages 17–33

Chapter 1 1. Several scholars have devoted attention to the hold that Tibet has on the Western imagination. The works of Bishop (1984, 1989), Lopez (1995, 1998), Dodin and Räther (2001), Klieger (2002), and French (2003) particularly illuminate the mythos of Tibet for those in the West. Adams (1995) and Ortner (1999) explore the effect of romanticization on Sherpa culture in Nepal. 2. Although I am very different from my Tibetan subjects—at least those without U.S. passports—in that I can travel to Tibet in relative safety. According to many accounts I have heard from Tibetans in the United States, the People’s Republic of China does screen Tibetans with U.S. passports. I have heard accounts of Tibetans with U.S. citizenship being questioned and briefly detained upon their arrival in China. In the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, many Tibetan Americans reported that they were unable to obtain visas to enter China. 3. For more information on the involvement of the CIA in the Tibetan resistance, see Norbu 1994; McCarthy 1997; Conboy and Morrison 2002; Dunham 2004; and McGranahan 2006. Tenzin Sonam and Ritu Sarin directed a documentary on the subject titled Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998). Chapter 2 1. Dri (‘bri) is a female yak. 2. The Nechung is one of many oracles, who has been historically recognized and continually incarnated over long periods of time. Samuel (1993) also refers to oracles as “spirit mediums” in that they “are possessed by major protective deities of the monasteries . . . and are consulted by monastic and state authorities on regular occasions. The best-known and most prestigious of them is the State Oracle of Nech’ung . . . relocated after 1959 in Dharamsala. . . . It was and is consulted by the Dalai Lama and his administration” (194–195). 3. Goldstein’s early Indian fieldwork did address the question of the “TibetoIndian” interface (1978). Goldstein described the structural aspects of the Tibetan refugee settlements, which were characterized by the limited interactions Tibetans had with Indians, as well as by the intentional limitation of direct economic competition, which in turn lessened the potential for conflict. More recent ethnographies of Tibetans and India have addressed recent tensions (Diehl 2002) and I address them here in chapters 4 and 6. 4. Changmas is a tree, flexible and flourishing, usually planted for fences (footnote in Tenzin Tsundue’s original). 5. According to the 1998 Tibetan Demographic Survey (TDS), 1,559 out of 1,620 “main workers,” or 96.2 percent of the workforce in Dharamsala, are categorized as “other workers.” Only 1 person was categorized as an “agri-labourer,” 4 as “cultivators,” and 56 as “HH industrial workers” (Central Tibetan Administration 2000b, vol. 1: 423). These numbers compared with 5,115 people out of 20,118 categorized as “cultivators” for

Notes to Pages 34–41 233

India as a whole and 292 as “agri-labourers” of the same total, or 26.9 percent, Workers in the “other” category still made up the majority, but for all of India the total is 14,281, or 71 percent. 6. Lingkor (gling skor) is an outer circumambulation path. Circumambulation of holy places is believed to create merit. 7. Ama (a ma) is Tibetan for mother. La (lags) denotes respect. 8. Throughout the book I will use the terms government-in-exile and Central Tibetan Administration interchangeably. Note also that several authors I quote also refer to the government-in-exile or the Central Tibetan Administration as “Dharamsala,” following the convention of using the name of the city of a nation’s seat of governance to refer to the government itself (e.g., “Washington, D.C.” or “Beijing”). 9. This is not to say that the Tibetan exile government’s authority is not contested. As many scholars and commentators have noted, there are a variety of fissures in exile society that have repeatedly arisen and caused divisions, especially between the different sects of Buddhism and the different regional divisions represented in exile. These divisions have led to violence in the past, including most recently the murder of three monks in Dharamsala on February 4, 1997, by followers of Shugden (see Chapter 3, note 6). Other people, including the intellectual and writer Jamyang Norbu, who were seen as dissenting from the exile government and thus disloyal to the Dalai Lama, have also been threatened with or experienced violence at the hands of other Tibetan refugees. 10. Tibetan settlements in India are not open to visitors without the express permission of the Indian government. One must apply to the Indian government for a permit, a process that generally takes around three months. Some settlements are apparently easier to obtain permits for than others, primarily due to Indian security concerns such as proximity to military bases and other activities. 11. Stupa is the Sanskrit name for ch’orten, which are reliquary monuments erected by Tibetans that serve to mark and thus create “sacred geography” (Samuel 1993: 159). Westerners use the term to refer to a large, elaborate temple where offerings to the Buddha are made, prayers are offered, etc. 12. The TDS puts the number of Tibetans in the United States at 7,000 (Central Tibetan Administration 2000a: 38). 13. Because the legislation called for equity in the selection, including gender equity, there was no explicit gender bias in the overall selection of immigrants to be a part of the TUSRP. However, the process itself was “gendered” in that if one member of a husband-wife pair was selected, either could choose to immigrate to the United States. The variety of reasons why a couple chose one gender over the other as the anchor relative are important, and speak to the gendered nature of immigration. Since the lotteries were done randomly there was no effort to ensure that equal numbers of men and women were selected. Of the 929 TUSRP immigrants included in the Tibetan Commu-

234 Notes to Pages 42–57

nity Assistant Project’s survey, 40.6% were women and 59.4% were men (Nassar and Taklha 1995: 17). 14. Economists consider the period from July 1990 to March 1991 to be one of recession in the United States. However, the state of New Mexico’s employment growth for 1991 was 0.9%, evidence of the state’s strong position even in the midst of the recession (New Mexico Business Reports 2001). 15. The work of Sylvia Rodríguez (1990) addresses the triethnic myth and its role in shaping ethnic relations in contemporary New Mexican representations, images, and projections. Following Bodine (1968), Rodríguez grounds her argument in the premise that the elements of the myth of tricultural harmony are not on equal footing: “Bodine (1968) was the first to recognize that the art colony and tourism had a significant impact on Indian ethnicity and ethnic relations in Taos, a situation he called the ‘tri-ethnic trap’ ” (1990: 540). Rodríguez describes the “tri-ethnic trap” as the dilemma faced by Hispanos who are at once confronted with devastating displacement from the land and at the same time with “Anglo glorification, advocacy, and imitation of Indian culture” (543). 16. Shakya (1999) writes that from the beginning of the Tibetan diaspora, “the GOI [Government of India] was reluctant to give the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees unrestrained freedom in India. The international press was not allowed to proceed to the border area to meet with the Dalai Lama and it was not until 16 April 1959 that the Dalai Lama was able to issue his now famous Tezpur statement.” Nehru’s caution was “governed by his fear of India being dragged into the Cold War” (215). In the last few years, as India and China have attempted to build closer relations, India’s welcoming attitude toward the Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees has been irritating to the Chinese. Chapter 3 1. This is coercion in the Weberian sense of the term. Of course CTA, through the leadership of the Dalai Lama, exercises authority over exile Tibetans. It does not possess legal authority over Tibetans in criminal cases for example, where they are subject to Indian law. 2. The kyang is a wild ass found in herds in the Changtheng (northern plain) region of Tibet and Ladakh (footnote in Tenzin Tsundue’s original). 3. The other instance of Tibetanness not being confined to ethnic Tibetans is the recent discoveries of trulkus (sprul sku), or reincarnated lamas, found in Western bodies. The best-known Western trulkus include Lama Osel, born to Spanish parents, recognized as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe; Tenzin Sherab, born to Canadian parents and recognized as the reincarnation of Geshe Jatse; and Jetsunma, from Brooklyn, New York, recognized by Penor Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Genyenma Ahkon Lhamo (see Mackenzie 1996). The most controversial recognition of a Western trulku is un-

Notes to Pages 58–61 235

doubtedly Steven Seagal, the Hollywood film actor who, as an adult, was also recognized by Penor Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Chundrag Dorje. 4. Since 2002, the government-in-exile has sent a yearly delegation of representatives to China to meet with Chinese authorities, broaching the topic of negotiations between the PRC and the Dalai Lama’s government. These visits have not resulted in negotiations, despite the encouragement of heads of Western governments. 5. Tibetan words are often compound, in that each of the syllables have meaning by themselves. Rig, for example, is derived from the noun rig pa, which means “intelligence” and has the secondary meaning “-ology, any science or body of knowledge.” The word gzhung has a variety of meanings, including “government” and “theory” (Goldstein 2001: 944, 1035–1036). 6. According to Lopez, “Shugden (Rdo rje shugs ldan, ‘Powerful Thunderbolt’) is an important protective deity of the Geluk sect. . . . According to his myth, he is the spirit of a learned and virtuous Geluk monk, Tulku Drakpa Gyalsten (1619–1655).” In childhood the monk was a rival of the young fifth Dalai Lama and each developed followings who were in rivalry with one another. According to the story, Trulku Drakpa Gyaltsen was murdered or committed suicide. Calamities that followed his death convinced the government that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s spirit was the cause of the difficulties. His spirit was propitiated and they requested that he desist from harm and become a protector of the Geluk. “The spirit agreed, and since that time Shugden has become one of the chief protectors of the Geluk sect, its monks, and its monasteries” (1998: 188). The worship of Shugden became associated with Geluk sectarianism, and eventually, in 1976, “on the advice of the Nechung oracle, the Dalai Lama discouraged the propitiation of Shugden, saying that he personally disapproved of the practice and would prefer that those who were associated with him, either as his disciples or as members of his government, not publicly worship Shugden. Contrary to the view of many Geluk monks, the Dalai Lama saw Shugden not as a Buddha and not as the incarnation of Drakpa Gyalsten, but as a worldly god, even an evil spirit, whose worship was fomenting sectarianism in the refugee community and thus impeding the cause of Tibetan independence” (Lopez 1998: 190–191). The Dalai Lama’s opposition to Shugden became more vociferous beginning in 1996. The government-in-exile issued a statement saying that “government departments and their subsidiaries, as well as monastic institutions functioning under the administrative control of the Central Tibetan Administration, should be strictly forbidden from propitiating this spirit. Individual Tibetans, it said, must be informed of the demerits of propitiating this spirit, but be given freedom ‘to decide as they like’ ” (192). Opponents of the ban have claimed that the Dalai Lama is restricting religious freedom. Western followers of Tibetan Buddhism that include propitiation of Shugden in their practice have protested the Dalai Lama’s stance on numerous occasions. And tragically, “On February 4, 1997, the highly respected scholar and principal of the Buddhist School of Dialectics in Dharamsala, Geshe Losang Gyatso (age 70) who had long sup-

236 Notes to Pages 62–77

ported the Dalai Lama’s position on Shugden, was stabbed to death along with two of his students, apparently by Tibetan supporters of Shugden” (Lopez 1998: 195–196). See also Batchelor and Lopez (1998) for the views of the two authors and interviews with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition and one of Shugden’s primary contemporary proponents. 7. In a piece from the San Jose Mercury News, the reporter quotes the Dalai Lama on this issue, saying that he is “a little hesitant” teaching about Buddhism in the West because he believes every religious tradition arises from a particular historical and cultural context, and, while people can change faiths, it is not necessarily advisable. A new tradition might not suit the convert and could end up causing “some confusion and some difficulties.” That is why it is “better, safer, to keep your own tradition” (Scheinin 2001). 8. The Sanskrit term bodhisattva refers to a being that through altruistic intention, forgoes his or her own enlightenment out of compassion for all sentient beings. 9. Men’s chupas (phyu ba) are robes that tie in front and often feature exceptionally long sleeves. Women’s chupas are typically floor-length dresses that tie at the waist and are worn over a blouse. Married women add a pangden, a colorful striped apron that signifies their married status. Women that work for the Central Tibetan Administration and the various Tibetan nongovernmental organizations are expected to wear chupas to work on a daily basis, while men are not. 10. Another interesting example of what could perhaps be taken as a very inclusive notion of Tibetan culture is the reaction of a conversation teacher to my wearing a “half-chupa” one day to class. Half-chupas are floor-length skirts that tie like a chupa and that are sold in clothing shops that cater to tourists in McLeod Ganj. The teacher, a young monk, looked at my new green half-chupa and said “That’s not good.” He elaborated that if people start wearing untraditional clothes then the culture will be lost. “But I am not Tibetan.” I replied. He said that it does not matter, it is a bad precedent, indicating his fear that I might influence local Tibetan women in this regard. 11. See Schein (2000) for more on Chinese cultural politics, in this case through an examination of the Miao. Schein includes a description of the attitudes of the PRC toward ethnic clothing in relation to the Miao. See Heberer (2001) for more on representations of Tibetans as “one ethnic group among many” in China. Chapter 4 A previous version of this chapter has been published as “Nomadism: from Refugees to Citizens, Tibetans the State,” in Alireza Asgharzadeh, Erica Lawson, Kayleen U. Oka, and Amar Wahab, eds., Diasporic Ruptures: Globality, Migrancy and Expressions of Identity, vol. 2 (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2007), pp. 57–79. 1. Trulku (sprul sku) is the Tibetan word for an incarnate lama. “Incarnate lamas are frequently ‘emanations’ of particular bodhisattva” (Samuel 1993: 195).

Notes to Pages 78–88 237

2. A dakini is a Tantric initiatory goddess (Samuel 1993: 228). 3. Kevin Garratt (1997) notes that “The meaning of the word ‘asylum’ is often assumed by those using it, yet its scope is overlooked: in essence it refers to the protection granted by a state to a foreign national against the exercise of jurisdiction by a different state” (21). 4. During a public audience that a friend of mine attended while I was staying in Dharamsala, someone in the Karmapa’s retinue apparently asked if there were any journalists present, a hand was raised and he subsequently refused to answer any questions. 5. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Rights of Refugees recognizes the right of people to leave, but not the right of people to enter another country. Sassen (1996) argues that receiving countries are seen as passive, with no role in encouraging people immigrate to their country. The bodies of refugees and immigrants are seen as the site of immigration control (10–11). 6. Suzerainty is a term used by the British to refer to China’s relationship with Tibet. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed., 2000) gives the following definitions of “suzerain”: “1. A nation that controls another nation in international affairs but allows it domestic sovereignty. 2. A feudal lord to whom fealty was due.” 7. I have not found any documentation that estimates the total numbers of Tibetans that crossed or attempted to cross the border. Life histories of Tibetans I have interviewed invariably include accounts of relatives who died during or after the flight from Tibet. The numbers of people who fled due to Chinese occupation are probably much higher than the number of refugees accounted for in India. 8. The 400,000 number is provided in the preface of the proceedings of “Refugee Law and Policy: Indian Issues,” a conference organized by the Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre, Indian Society of International Law, New Delhi, January 23, 1999. See also U.S. Committee for Refugees, Country Report: India (2000): “At the end of 1999, more than 292,000 refugees were living in India, including 110,000 from Tibet (China), 110,000 from Sri Lanka, 42,000 from Burma, 15,000 from Bhutan, 14,500 from Afghanistan, and more than 400 from other countries. Sixty Afghans repatriated from India in 1999.” 9. Refoule is a French term adopted by the United Nations to refer to the forcible repatriation of refugees. Nonrefoulement, then, refers to the practice of not forcibly repatriating people who seek asylum or refuge across the borders of their country of origin or residence. 10. Because of the sensitive nature of this question it is highly possible that these figures are not accurate. During the course of fieldwork, I noted that the questionnaire that served to collect the data for the 1998 TDS asked whether subjects had obtained Indian citizenship. However, I could not find the figures in the published volumes of survey data (Central Tibetan Administration 2000b). I went to the Planning Department

238 Notes to Pages 104–124

of the CTA in Dharamsala and asked them if they could tell me how many responded affirmatively to the question: the answer was six. I am fairly certain that although the numbers of Tibetans who have taken Indian citizenship are low, since my own survey reached a similar conclusion with only 5 of 211 participants saying that they had Indian citizenship, it is clear that Tibetans underreported their status to the government-inexile. Chapter 5 1. See also Fields (1981), particularly the chapter “When the Iron Bird Flies,” for an entertaining account of the various rinpoches and lamas who came to exert influence on the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States, especially Chogyam Trungpa, Tarthang Tulku, and Kalu Rinpoche. 2. In 2001, Tethong was the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration. Tethong is also a former Minister of Information and International Relations for the Tibetan government-in-exile (1996–2001). 3. Immigration Act of 1990, 101st Congress, 2nd Session, H.R. 4300. 4. Congressional Record, House, October 26, 1990, in TURSP 1991: 36. 5. The survey, titled “Survey on Attitudes Towards Tibetan Migration to the West,” was bilingual, English and Tibetan. Of 211 respondents, 119 responded in English and 92 in Tibetan. The Tibetan-language responses appear in the text in their English translation. The original Tibetan appears in transliteration in the notes. For the responses originally written in English I felt it was important to preserve the voice of the author and have therefore have kept the language as close to the original as possible, even when there are grammatical errors. In a few cases I have edited to clarify meaning. 6. grong gud ni bod mi rnam gzhi gcig tu sdod mi thup ‘dis so soi’ rig gzhung dang sgad yig sogs ra ma lug zhig tu chags pa’ gyong dal/ gnyis na sgor mo sgyang pa gul che mthong nas bod don la bsam blo ‘khor gom med pa ‘di gyong [?] po zhig red/ 7. The connection between the Tibetan and Jewish diaspora has been made by a variety of sources. Jamyang Norbu wrote an article titled “An Outline of the History of Israel” (1973), translated by Nathan Katz and published in 1998. Rodger Kamenetz’s book, The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India (1994), chronicles the journey of a diverse group of Jewish thinkers who travel to Dharamsala to meet with the Dalai Lama who ostensibly asks them the “secret” to Jewish survival in diaspora. During my fieldwork in Dharamsala, I became acquainted with a young man who was involved in a cultural exchange between Jewish and Tibetan youth in the United Kingdom in March 2000 (Tibetan-Jewish Youth Connection 2000). I also attended one of two large Passover Seders held in Dharamsala organized by Ohr Olam and its local host organization the Dharamshala EarthVille Institute (DEVI), an organization founded by Israeli and American Jews (the seder was attended mostly

Notes to Pages 125–135 239

by Israelis, but also by a broad selection of diasporic Jews from the United States, Canada, and elsewhere). Dara Ackerman, one of the organizers of the seder and the founder of DEVI, wrote about the connections between the Tibetan and Jewish peoples: “Dharamshala is the exile capital of the Tibetan Government and home to thousands of Tibetans who have had to flee their country. In this way, the Jews and Tibetans have a strong common bond—that of knowing what it is to live in exile. . . . The world’s awareness of this tragedy [the Holocaust] led to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel. One can easily wonder if the world’s awareness of the genocide happening now in Tibet can lead to Tibetans being able to have freedom in their country again some day as well. Strengthened by this belief, many people around the world work hard for Tibet’s freedom—and Jews in great numbers are among those activists” (Ackerman 2000: 10). In addition, a surprising number of informants, including two settlement officers, explicitly referred to the Jewish diaspora as something to emulate, not only in terms of identity maintenance through time, but in terms of creating economic wealth and mobilizing the community to gain influence in the U.S. Congress and strengthen the Tibet movement in general. [Note: “Dharamshala,” literally “guest house” in Hindi, is an alternate spelling for Dharamsala.] 8. One interviewee mentioned how allowing Tibetans, even those born in India, to remain stateless in India was a gracious gesture on the part of the Government of India. I am grateful for this comment, as it broadened my thinking on this issue, which had been conditioned by current work on citizenship in the United States, which is seen as an exclusionary process, through which unwanted members of a society are denied access to a benefit. My interviewee’s comment helped me see how the meaning of citizenship changes in different contexts. Chapter 6 1. An Identification Certificate differs from the Registration Certificate described in Chapter 4. A Registration Certificate is the documentation Tibetans are required by the Indian government to hold as a temporary residence permit, which must be renewed every year. 2. Tsampa (rtsam pa) is roasted barley flour, the staple of the Tibetan diet. Since it is already cooked it can be eaten raw or, preferably, mixed with butter tea. Significantly, one way Tibetans refer to their ethnic identity is as “tsampa-eaters.” Tsering Shakya wrote about the term in an article in Himal titled “Whither the Tsampa Eaters?” (1993): “During the height of the Tibetan resistance to the Chinese in 1959, a letter appeared in the Tibetan Mirror, symbolically addressed to ‘all tsampa eaters’. The writer had gone down to the staple, barley as the most basic element which untied the Tibetan-speaking world. If Buddhism provided the atom of Tibetanness, then tsampa provided the subparticles of Tibetanness. The use of tsampa transcended dialect, sect, gender and regionalism” (9).

240 Notes to Pages 139–159

3. Bourdieu (1977), Foucault (1980), Corrigan and Sayer (1985), Nagengast (1991, 1994), and many others discuss the state and how it categorizes people through its technologies of power. Censuses, marriage laws, divorce decrees, and in this case, Registration Certificates and Identification Certificates are all part of these technologies. Geoff Childs’s (2000) work on natal horoscopes provides a perspective on Tibetan views of knowledge about the self. 4. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan signed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal year 1988–1989 (Public Law 100-204, Section 1243), which included Fulbright fellowships for fifteen Tibetans for study at higher education institutions in the United States. Nineteen eighty-eight was the first year of the program (Caterino 2000: 18). There are currently two categories: fellowships for those with bachelor’s degrees that allow two years of funding for higher education such as a master’s degree, and those without bachelor’s degrees who want to complete a year of professional training. 5. See Diehl 2002 on the influence of Indian music and film in the making of modern Tibetan music. 6. The essay won top prize in the Outlook-Picador Non-Fiction Competition. 7. ngai’ bsam tshul ni bod mis rgyal khab gzhan gyi mir chang sa rgyab nas yin na blo bam chen lo ‘dug rgyu mtshan bod pa grangs nyung mi nigs yin pa dang rgya mis bod mi pham bo med bar bzo gi pa sogs rang re’ nyag phra bi’ gnas tshul ‘ni la bsam blo ma btab par thabs sdug gi las ga de ‘dra byed par blo pham chen po ‘dug/ 8. bod mi rigs kyi rus rgyud kha ‘thor dang rig gzhung [?] brlag gi gzhi rtsa zhig dang ‘di ‘dra’ rgyun ma chad par mang du phyin na phyis sung bod pa zhe sphyi tshogs ‘di shal med du ‘gro lta tsi bod ces pi’ mid ‘di yang rtsa med du ‘gro [?] nyen kha yod bsam gyi ‘dug/ 9. Article 8, provision 2 of the charter, titled “Citizen of Tibet,” states: “any Tibetan refugee who had to adopt citizenship of other countries under compelling circumstances may retain Tibetan citizenship provided he or she fulfils the duties prescribed in Article 13 of this charter” (emphasis added). Article 13 reads as follows: Obligations of Citizens—Article 13: All Tibetan citizens shall fulfill the following obligations: 1) bear true allegiance to the Tibetan nation; 2) faithfully comply & observe the Charter & the laws of the Tibetan administration; 3) endeavour to achieve the legitimate goal of the Tibetan people; 4) pay taxes imposed in accordance with the laws; and 5) perform such obligations as may be imposed by law in the event of threat to the interest of the nation or other public calamity. 10. ‘bran ghyi blam tshul la btsan byol bod pi’ spyi tshogs nang nas phyi rgyal khag la ‘gro dang ‘gro bzhin yod yin na ‘ang da tsho’ las khungs zhig gi nang phyag pas gnang bzhin

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bi’ las byed pa zhig yin byen shes yin khang legs yod pa gthad [?] dgos de lta pu phyi rgyal la sor na/ Chapter 7 1. According to DeSipio and de la Garza (1998), “The sponsor promises to support the immigrant during the immigrant’s period of transition to citizenship. Prior to the 1996 reforms, the sponsor’s income was added to the immigrant’s to determine whether the immigrant was eligible for AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children], SSI [Supplemental Security Income benefits], and food stamps for the first three to five years after immigration. However . . . the sponsor’s promise was not legally binding. Under the 1996 amendments to the Immigration and Welfare Reform Bills, the sponsor’s responsibility was extended to covering the first ten years of permanent residence and to making a legally binding commitment” (106). 2. Of course, the kind of work one does and one’s class status are intricately connected in the United States. However, exile Tibetans are still influenced by the social system in Tibet, which had a caste system in which some people such as butchers (shey pa) and corpse handlers were at the bottom of the social hierarchy, peasants who owned no land were on the next highest rung, peasants who owned land were above them, and the aristocracy occupied the highest rung. In addition, although outlawed, the caste system in India remains, making menial work much more degrading, especially for Tibetans who, by virtue of being outsiders and Buddhists, are “outcaste,” or out of the caste system. 3. In addition, in 1998 two museum exhibitions on Tibet were held in New Mexico. One, titled “Tibet: Tradition and Change,” was held at the Albuquerque Museum and consisted primarily of religious art. There were live demonstrations of weaving and thangka painting (a traditional form of religious art in which a range of Bodhisattvas and demons are painted on canvas or silk scrolls framed in silk), and Lobsang Samten of the Namgyal Monastery came to the museum and constructed a sand mandala (mandalas are representations of three-dimensional sacred worlds, often depicted in sand or paint by specially trained monks; see McLagan 1996b for an interesting account of the politics of mandala construction for museum display). A lecture series and a documentary film series also accompanied the exhibit. The other exhibit was curated by Frank Korom in 1998 at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Titled “At Home Away from Home: Tibetan Culture in Exile,” the exhibit included many elements constructed by New Mexico Tibetans. Events included the creation of a Kalachakra sand mandala by Lobsang Samten and Tupten Chonyi, thangka painting demonstrations, a Tibetan film series, cultural performances, and a symposium. One major feature of the exhibit was photographs of local Tibetans by Kitty Leakin. Although press coverage of these exhibits provided a forum to talk about cultural preservation, Tibetans took the opportunity to explain what was hap-

242 Notes to Pages 185–214

pening in Tibet, thus fulfilling the CTA’s and the Dalai Lama’s charge that they be ambassadors for their country (e.g., MacNeil 1998; Saladof 1998). Chapter 8 1. According to Clifford, Pearce, and Tandon (2005), “1996 immigration reforms require sponsoring relatives’ earnings to be at least 125% of the federal poverty line (U.S. Code, Title 8, Subchapter B, Part 213a).” 2. Aleinikoff states that jus soli “was explicitly affirmed by the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.’ The amendment constituted an express overruling of Chief Justice Taney’s opinion in the Dred Scott case (1857) that free blacks born in the United States were not citizens” (Aleinikoff 2000: 124; emphasis in original). Chapter 9 A previous version of this chapter was published as Julia Meredith, “Tibetan Immigration to the United States: Engagements with Bureaucracy and the Limits of the Nation-State,” in Elzbieta M. Gozdziak and Dianna J. Shandy, eds., Rethinking Refuge and Displacement, Selected Papers on Refugees and Immigrants, vol. 8 (Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association, 2000), pp. 66–86. 1. The use of the term naturalization on the part of the INS is, of course, highly interesting. It suggests that the “alien” can be somehow incorporated into the body politic, rendered “normal.” Lisa Lowe, in her book Immigrant Acts (1996), writes compellingly of Asian immigration to the United States, which can be analyzed as a series of movements that actively excludes and transforms nonwhite immigrants into the “other.” Her work suggests that looking at who is excluded from the body politic speaks volumes about how a state defines its citizenry. 2. In 2003 its functions were transferred to the three different agencies in the newly created Department of Homeland Security.

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Abrams, Philip, 49, 214 Abu-Lughod, Lila, 51 Activism, 8, 10, 76, 88, 123, 183, 194, 196, 230 Adams, Vincanne, 3, 74 Agency, 4, 100, 115, 189, 214, 218, 223, 227, 230 Ambassadors, Tibetans as, 2, 8–9, 111, 120, 122, 123, 129, 179, 184–185, 198, 220, 229 Amdo, 20, 22, 33, 64, 67, 74, 135, 137, 145 Anderson, Benedict, 57, 183 Appadurai, Arjun, 74, 224, 226 Asylum: and the Dalai Lama, 83; in India, 85–86, 92; and the Karmapa, 77, 79; in the United States, 108–109, 141 Avedon, John, 23, 32 Baker, Lee, 194 Balibar, Etienne, 9 Barnett, Robert, 20–21 Basch, Linda, 9 Bednar, Edward, 104–106, 118, 126, 178 Bhabha, Homi, 214, 218 Bishop, Peter, 3, 156 Bodhisattva, 62 Boehm, Deborah, 9, 186 “Born refugees,” 11, 65, 134, 156–157 Boyarin, Daniel and Jonathan, 5–6, 7 “Brain drain,” Tibetans’ fear of, 126, 141 Brauen, Martin, 98 Breckenridge, Carol, 208 Buddhism, 45, 51, 57, 61–63, 148–153, 154; introduction to Tibet, 64; in the West, 69–70, 104

Bureaucracy, 90, 139, 214, 216, 218, 223–224 Bylakuppe, 30, 37–40, 127–128 Calkowski, Marcia, 51, 65 Canada, Tibetans in, 30, 36, 99, 158 Caste, 44, 144, 151, 209 Cayley, Vyvyan, 194 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 23, 24, 104 Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), 31; and authority, 50, 51, 233n9, 234n1; and “brain drain,” 126–127; delegations to China, 235n4; and employment, 44, 112; as nonstate, 50; structure of, 36–37; and the TUSRP, 110–118 Charter of the Central Tibetan Administration, 89, 159 Childs, Geoff, 149 China: and the Dalai Lama, 58; most-favorednation trade status, 25, 223; and outside interference in Tibet, 22–23; and refugee status of Tibetans, 8; and Tibet, 20–22; treatment of Tibetans, 5, 95. See also India: relations with China; People’s Republic of China Chupas, 63, 67 Citizenship: and activism, 9, 198; and ambivalence, 9, 157, 219–220; Chinese, 225; dual, 159; and emotion, 219–220, 224; exam, 10–11; global, 208; Indian, 8, 47, 88–90, 225, 237–238n10; and intermarriage, 159; meanings of, 9, 10, 218–220; and patriotism, 2; and race, 158–159, 160; 261

262 Index

Tibetan attitudes toward, 157–160, 187; Tibetan exile, 240n9. See also U.S. citizenship Clifford, James, 5, 21, 206 Coe, Cati, 71 Cohen, Robin, 4–5, 115, 206 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 85, 99, 109 Corrigan, Phillip, 49, 214 Cosmopolitanism, 202, 208–210 Coutin, Susan, 9 Cultural genocide, 59, 91, 228 Culture, 17–18, 28–29, 50–52; “beyond practice,” 153–157, 185, 197; and Buddhism, 61, 148–153; change, 143–145, 200; comparing Chinese and Tibetan, 63–66; as conservative, 174–175, 200; and the Dalai Lama, 59, 61–63, 69–70, 72, 141; dissemination of Tibetan, 69–70, 179–180; exile versus newcomer views, 142; loss, 44, 141–142, 145, 147, 179, 188; and materialism, 66–67, 142, 147–148; as nation, 58–62, 130–131, 179, 180; and newcomers, 145, 146–147; and performance, 196–197; and preservation, 52–57, 67–70, 145–147, 178–182, 188; role of institutions, 52–53, 189–190; as static, 143–145; and Tibetan associations, 189–190; Tibetan meanings, 17, 59–60, 129–131, 134, 141–148; Western, and Tibetan view of, 144–145; Western view of, 17, 18, 141. See also Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project: and cultural preservation; Discourse: culture Dalai Lama, fourteenth, 107, 198–200, 206, 228; as architect of exile discourse, 53, 115; birthday, 10, 190; on Buddhism in the West, 236n7; on Chinese policy in Tibet, 228; and Congressional Gold Medal, 228; and democratization in exile, 75; flight to India, 30, 82–83; on Han migration to Tibet, 157; and independence, 199; role in future Tibet, 75; status in India, 234n16; as summarizing symbol, 53–54; on Tibetan migration to the United States, 103; on tradition and modernity, 72 Dalai Lama, thirteenth, 19, 21 De Genova, Nicholas, 9 Democracy, in exile, 74–75, 200. See also Discourse: democracy

Department of Home, Central Tibetan Administration, 11, 37; and the TUSRP, 112, 115–118 Deterritorialization, 157, 160, 194 DeVoe, Marie Dorsh, 44, 47, 51, 74, 89, 144, 152, 154, 157, 172–173 Dharamsala, 30–36, 43, 45–46, 67–68, 91–92; as site of CTA, 31–32 Diaspora: “consciousness,” 6–8, 73, 76, 189, 205, 212; features of, 5; imperial diaspora, 5; Jewish, 5–6, 124; labor diaspora, 4; origin of term, 4; as process, 5; scope of Tibetan, 2–3; theorizing, 3–8, 115, 186, 218, 226; trade diasporas, 4; victim diaspora, 4–5 Diehl, Keila, 4, 51, 65, 68, 74, 144, 194 Discourse, 50–51; culture, 51–52, 134, 142, 226; democracy, 3, 48, 51, 75, 82, 227; environmentalism, 3, 59, 74; human rights, 48, 59, 81, 82, 226, 227; modernity, 50, 70–74, 148; and the TUSRP, 113–115 Domed. See Kham Economics: and dependency, 172–174; impact of the TUSRP, 126–129; and migration, 93, 209; role of monasteries in India, 68–69; and Tibetans in the United States, 122–124, 167, 170–171, 192 Education: in India, 30, 54–57, 70, 156, 196–197, 206; as motivation for migration, 5, 127, 140, 146, 147, 148, 176; and Tibetanness, 55, 196; in Tibetan schools 54–55, 130; in the United States, 46, 177, 189–194, 196, 200, 207, 209–210 Employment: in Switzerland, 97; in Tibet, 64, 88; and Tibetans in India, 30–31, 44–45, 109, 126, 136; and Tibetans in New Mexico, 175–178, 190; and Tibetans in the United States, 42–43, 46, 108, 110, 119, 168–174 Environmental movement, 74, 227, 231n4. See also Discourse: environmentalism Ethnicity: and Tibetans, 63–65, 129, 158, 160, 227, 239n2; and Tibetans in the United States, 195–196, 219 Field, Les, 51–52 Fields, Rick, 104 “Flexible citizenship,” 2, 49, 208, 212 Foucault, Michel, 6, 48, 50, 214 Fouron, Georges, 9, 186, 194 Frechette, Ann, 74, 94, 172–173 Fulbright scholarships, 24, 140–141, 240n4

Index 263

Gaddi, 32, 33 Gangchen Kyishong. See Central Tibetan Administration Gansu, 20, 59, 135, 227, 229 Garratt, Kevin, 44, 86, 109 Gedon, Ajam, 11, 36, 39, 40, 142 Gender politics, 174–175, 196 Giddens, Anthony, 51, 71–72 Glick Schiller, Nina, 9, 186, 194 Goldstein, Melvyn, 19, 22, 51, 59–60, 74, 89, 149; and Indian settlements, 38, 44, 144 Government-in-exile. See Central Tibetan Administration Gramsci, Antonio, 49, 214, 218 “Great Game,” 19, 22 Grunfeld, A. Tom, 23, 104 Huber, Toni, 3, 51, 74 Human rights, 8, 9, 25, 37, 114, 223, 228. See also Discourse: human rights Hybridity, 9, 197, 202–203, 211 Identification Certificates, 80, 132–133, 137–138 Identity: as Asian, 196; and migration, 134; and nationalism, 153–157, 219; in the People’s Republic of China, 74; production of, 226; Tibetan, 2, 230; transformation of, 4, 74, 194, 210; and U.S. citizenship, 211, 219; and youth, 193–203 Ideoscape, 74–75, 226, 227 “Imagined community,” 57; Tibet as, 21–22, 57 Immigration Act (1990), 106–108; Tibetan Provisions, 1, 25, 104–106, 215 Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), 11, 46, 109, 166, 167, 185, 213, 214, 216–217, 218, 220 Impermanence, 150–151, 188 Independence, 64, 76, 90, 143, 203, 223; versus autonomy, 37, 59, 199–200, 228–229; Dalai Lama on, 59, 61, 228–229; “internalizing,” 198–201; and the TUSRP, 122, 124 India: and culture, 144–145; and geographic proximity to Tibet, 100, 125–126; historic links with Tibet, 22, 23, 82–83, 91; and refugee population, 85; relations with China, 45, 77, 79, 83–84, 85, 88, 89; as “second home,” 29–30, 186, 202; and Tibetan sponsorship, 173–174; Tibetans’ status in, 85–94 Indians: intermarriage with Tibetans, 144; relations with Tibetan refugees, 44–46, 90–92

Individualism, 188–189, 193, 198, 201 Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, 70–71 Interdependence, 49, 62, 115, 125, 226 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 81–82, 85 Iyer, Pico, 62, 69–70 Jews: comparisons with Tibetans, 124, 202; diaspora, 5–6, 7, 124 Jus sanguinis, 194, 211 Jus soli, 98, 194 Karma, 69, 151–153, 173 Karmapa, seventeenth (Ugyen Trinley Dorje), 77–80; and China-India relations, 79–80, 94–95 Kelsky, Karen, 133–134, 190, 208–209 Kham, 20, 22, 58, 64, 145 Klieger, P. Christiaan, 3, 47, 51, 74, 172 Knaus, John Kenneth, 23–24, 104 Korom, Frank, 3, 51, 97–98, 104, 241–242n3 Kurds, 52, 226 Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 11, 35, 74 Lindberg, Nancy, 117, 120, 215 Lopez, Donald, 3, 18–19, 23, 51, 57, 61–62, 64, 156–157 Losar (Tibetan New Year), 10, 34, 95, 190 Lowe, Lisa, 194, 218, 242n1 (Chapter 9) Loyalties, multiple, 2, 8, 9, 10, 49, 198, 205, 218, 219 “Lucky 1,000,” 9, 110, 215 Lukas, Sarah, 156, 194 Malkki, Liisa, 6–8, 218; and internationalism, 47, 75–76, 82; and national consciousness, 6–8, 73 Mandala, 241n3 March 10 commemoration, 10, 46, 59, 136, 183, 190, 198, 228 Marcus, George, 4, 27–28 McLagan, Meg, 4, 21–22, 23, 36, 73, 74, 75 McLeod Ganj. See Dharamsala Methodology, 10–12, 27–29, 40, 53, 122; multisited research and, 27–29 Migration: Han, to Tibet, 157; history of Tibetan, 103–104; motivations for, 93–94, 137–138, 140–141; theorizing, 80–82; Tibetan, to Canada, 99; Tibetan, to Switzerland, 97–98; Tibetan, to the United States, 103–108

264 Index

Model minority stereotype, 191–192 Modernity: definition of, 72–73; and Tibetan exiles, 12, 50, 69–74, 198, 201, 202, 211. See also Discourse: modernity Monasteries in exile, 68–69, 70, 149 Museum exhibitions, 241–242n3 Nassar, Bobbi, 104, 107, 113, 119, 166, 168–169, 170 Nation: definition of, 57; in discourse, 27, 50, 51, 54; equating with culture, 50–52, 53, 58–62; Tibet as, 20–22, 49, 55, 72–73 Nationalism: and identity, 57, 153–157, 219; theorizing, 21–22, 47, 65; Tibetanness and, 153–157, 185 Naturalization, 213–214, 215–218 Nepal: and protests (2008), 96; relations with China, 94, 96; and repatriation of Tibetans, 94, 96; and status of Tibetans, 96; Tibetans in, 5, 20, 30, 36, 55, 84–85, 86, 94–97, 124, 173–174; and the TUSRP, 105–106, 107, 111–113, 116, 117 Newcomers, 11, 33, 65, 66, 86–88, 117, 128, 134–139, 142, 146–147, 156, 204, 227 New Mexico, 26, 40–47; cluster site, 10. See also Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project: in New Mexico New York Association for New Americans (NYANA), 118–119 Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 35, 37, 123–124, 126 Nonviolence, 3, 61, 198, 229 Norbu, Jamyang, 23, 228 Nowak, Margaret, 51, 53, 74, 154, 194

Politics: and the Dalai Lama, 53, 62; and identity, 160; international, and Tibet, 223–224; Tibetan involvement in the United States, 46, 220–222, 229; and the TUSRP, 122–126 Population: of Albuquerque, 41; of Bylakuppe, 39; of Dharamsala, 32; monastic, in India, 149; of New Mexico, 41; of Santa Fe, 41; Tibetans in diaspora, 30; Tibetans in India and Nepal, 30; Tibetans in the United States, 3, 40 Protest, 17, 24; March 2008, 59, 96, 227–230; of Tibetans in the United States, 221–222 Qinghai, 20, 59, 227

“Occidental longing,” 133–134 Olympic Games (Summer 2008), 227, 228, 232n2 (Chapter 1) 1.5 generation, 46, 194 Ong, Aihwa, 2, 9, 190; and flexible citizenship, 2, 208–209, 212 Ortner, Sherry, 53

Race, 158; and citizenship, 158, 160; and Tibetans in the United States, 192, 195, 211, 227 Recent arrivals from Tibet. See Newcomers Refoule. See Repatriation Refugee settlements in India, 30, 38–40; as authentically Tibetan, 30, 68–69; and remittances, 127–129; as “technology of power,” 7–8 Refugee status: and the Karmapa, 80; significance of, 8, 30–31; of Tibetans in India, 85–88; of Tibetans in Switzerland, 98; of Tibetans in the United States, 105, 108–109 Registration Certificates, 80, 86–88, 90, 93, 94, 96, 138 Remittances. See Refugee settlments in India: and remittances Repatriation, 94–97 Return: to India, 11, 98, 127, 206–208; to Tibet, 30, 45, 75, 86, 139, 143, 146, 156, 194, 202–206, 226 Rodríguez, Sylvia, 43 Romanticization: of Native Americans, 43; of Tibet, 19, 65, 149, 156, 201–202; of Tibetans, 65, 149, 169, 181–182

Palestinians, 52, 226, 229 Park, Lisa Sun-Hee, 9 Passports, 23–24, 109, 132, 140. See also U.S. passports Patron-priest system, 173 People’s Republic of China (PRC), 20, 58, 74, 75, 136, 157, 220, 223, 228. See also China Phuntsog, Nawang, 57

Safran, William, 5 Samuel, Geoffrey, 21, 149–150, 151–152 Santa Fe Tibetan Association, 190 Sassen, Saskia, 82, 210, 215 Sayer, Derek, 49, 214, 240 Schein, Louisa, 50 Schwartz, Ronald, 17, 20, 24 Second-generation exiles, 145, 186, 187, 194

Index 265

Sera Monastery, India, 39–40, 70, 93, 149 Settlements in India. See Refugee settlements in India 17-Point Agreement, 84 Shakya, Tsering, 20, 22, 83–85, 104, 154 Shandy, Dianna, 9 Shangri-La, 17, 18 Shugden, 61, 235–236n6 Sichuan, 20, 59, 227 Sino-Indian relations. See India: relations with China Sino-U.S. relations. See U.S.-Chinese relations Smith, Warren W., 9, 22 SOS Tibetan Children’s Village. See Tibetan Children’s Village Sovereignty: Chinese, in Tibet, 222; recognition of Tibet’s, 24; transformations of state, 82, 210 State: categorizing power of, 7, 23, 137–139, 213, 216–218, 221–222, 224; theorizing of, 49–50; Tibet as, 49 “Stateless society,” 21 Stateless/statelessness, 2, 7, 8, 12, 18, 44, 45, 47–48, 51, 52, 80, 89, 94, 98, 100, 108, 110, 125, 132, 158, 159, 160, 186, 209, 210, 212, 215–218; definition of, 225–226. See also Refugee status Strasbourg Proposal (1988), 24, 58, 124 Ström, Axel, 51, 68–69, 70 “Structures of feeling,” 6, 49, 214 Survey, “Attitudes Towards Migration to the West,” 11–12, 88, 94, 122, 123, 126, 127, 128, 129, 145, 146, 157, 158–159, 160, 173, 174 Suzerainty, 84 Sweater selling, 35, 39 Switzerland, Tibetans in, 30, 36, 97–98, 211 Taklha, Tenzin, 104, 107, 113, 118–119, 150–151, 154, 166, 168, 170, 206 “Technologies of power,” 6–7, 48, 73, 214, 216, 223 Tethong, T. C., 105 Thangka, 190, 195, 241n3 Tian, Dongdong, 23, 215, 221–222 Tiananmen Square Massacre, 106, 107, 215 Tibet: attachment to, 1–2, 9, 144, 154, 156, 157, 158, 219; as deterritorialized, 70, 131, 156, 157; as distinct from China, 63–66; “ethnic,” 20, 82; exile representations of, 55–56, 136, 156–157; future of, 9, 47, 58–59,

75, 124; as independent country, 23, 72, 220, 221, 223; as isolated, 18–19, 28; as nation, 20–21, 49, 51, 55, 57; and relations with India, 83–84, 91; representations of, 1–4, 17–22; U.S. involvement in, 22–25, 84, 107, 223; as Utopia, 3, 18, 57; in Western imagination, 3–4, 17–22, 43 Tibetan associations, 189–190 Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), 37, 124–125 Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV), 35, 39, 40, 54, 57, 130, 155, 174, 197 Tibetan Demographic Survey (TDS), 30, 55, 94, 149 Tibetan–Native American connection, 26, 43 Tibetanness, 2, 6, 8, 28, 47, 49, 50, 51, 70, 73, 74, 76, 142, 144, 153–160, 185–190, 194, 195, 196, 197–198, 200, 202, 211, 226; and activism, 196; and education, 55; and non-Tibetans, 57 Tibetan Resettlement Project–New Mexico, 123, 165–166, 168, 169, 170, 175, 184, 190 Tibetan Review, 39, 67, 91–92, 97, 103, 113, 115, 116, 122–123, 124, 125, 129, 130, 145–146, 157–158, 172, 173, 221–222 Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project (TUSRP), 1, 23, 30, 103, 108, 139, 165, 229; and adopting citizenship, 8–9, 157–160, 220; “anchor relatives,” 166; applicant categories, 112–113; application process, 110–113; and class, 209; and cluster sites, 118–120, 144; and cultural identity, 129–131, 147; and cultural preservation, 178–182; and dependence, 172–174; and discourse, 113–115; and dissemination of Tibetan culture, 180–181; economic impact of, 126–129, 170–171, 209; and employment, 108, 166, 168–170, 172–178; enabling travel to Tibet, 204; family reunification, 166–167, 185, 216; founding of, 105–106; and issue of equity, 106; in New Mexico, 40–48, 166; orientation, 120–121; and “place of birth” issue, 215–218; selection process, 115–118; sponsors in the United States, 167–170; and Tibet Movement, 122–126, 229; and U.S. policy toward Tibet, 108–110. See also Discourse: and the TUSRP Tibetan Women’s Association, 33, 37, 63, 66 Tibetan Youth Congress, 33, 37, 63, 123

266 Index

Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), 20, 59, 96 Tibet Center–New Mexico, 94, 187, 190 Tibet Movement, 3, 4, 8, 18, 24, 57, 62, 74, 75, 76, 108, 115, 146, 189, 207–208, 215, 228–229; and the TUSRP, 122–126, 146 “Transnational generation,” 185–186, 192; and educational aspirations, 210 Transnationalism, 9, 10, 52, 214, 224, 226, 227; and multiple loyalties, 9 Trulkus, 234n3, 236n1 Tsampa, 135 Tsing, Anna, 4 Tsundue, Tenzin, 29–30, 55–56, 155–156 Turner, Victor, 218 Ugyen Trinley Dorjee. See Karmapa, seventeenth Uighurs, 52, 226, 228 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 95, 225 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 58, 81, 225 Universal responsibility, 49, 114, 115, 225, 226 Uprising. See Protest Upton, Janet, 74

U.S.-Chinese relations, 106, 107, 108, 223 U.S. citizenship, 2, 8–10, 44, 47, 89, 94, 100, 157–160, 187, 194, 201, 204–205, 214, 218–224, 231n2; and identity, 211, 218–220, 225–226; and political activism, 9, 198; and transnational connections, 10, 204; and the TUSRP, 8–9, 157–160, 220. See also Citizenship U.S. passports: “Place of Birth,” 220–223; Tibetans and, 10, 23–24, 204–205, 212, 219, 230. See also Passports U.S. State Department, 23, 213, 216, 220–221, 223 U.S. Tibet Committee, 221, 222 U.S. Tibet policy, 22–25, 107, 108–110, 215, 222–224 U-Tsang, 20, 21, 145 Violence, 147, 192, 198, 228, 229, 233n9 Weil, Anasuya, 41, 165, 169, 175 Williams, Raymond, 6, 49, 214 Youth, 46, 72, 98, 144, 185, 192, 193–203, 207–212, 228–229 Yunnan, 20