Minorities Studies and Tibet Research: A Seminar on Minzuxue

News item posted on: March 31st, 2010
Minorities Studies and Tibet Research in the PRC

A Seminar on Minzuxue with Professor Liu Zhiyang

On January 28, Visiting Professor Liu Zhiyang led a seminar on minorities studies and Tibet research in the PRC. The seminar provided UVa students and faculty a opportunity to learn about a research and scholarly field that has undergone a significant transition over the past generation.

A professor at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, Liu Zhiyang himself specializes in Tibetan studies and has conducted extensive field research, both in Lhasa and in the Tibetan-Yi corridor of Pingwu county and elsewhere on the Sino-Tibetan frontier. He has been resident at the University of Virginia through the Tibet Center over the past academic year.

In his seminar, Professor Liu discussed the meaning and direction of minzu xue in China. He also spoke on the direction that China’s Tibetan studies (zang xue) are heading. In particularly, he discussed the complexity of the term minzu. The concept has denoted different meanings at different times. Its translation into English has, correspondingly, led to some confusion. Today, according to Professor Liu, it is a politicized concept.

Liu Zhiyang contrasted the development of minorities studies with the discipline of anthropology (renleixue). Considered politically suspect, anthropology was eliminated as a field of study in China in favor of minorities studies. Today, the two fields have converged, with the one clear distinction that Chinese anthropology also includes within its purview the study of cultural difference among the “Han” nationality, while minorities studies does not.

Professor Liu recently returned to Guangzhou where he will continue teaching anthropology, minorities studies and Tibetan studies.

Minorities Studies and Tibet Research in the People’s Republic of China: A Seminar on Minzuxue

News item posted on: March 23rd, 2010

Liu Zhiyang
Zhongshan University

Tashi Rabgey
University of Virginia

On January 28, Visiting Professor Liu Zhiyang led a seminar on minorities studies and Tibet research in the PRC. The seminar provided UVa students and faculty a opportunity to learn about a research and scholarly field that has undergone a significant transition over the past generation.

A professor at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, Liu Zhiyang himself specializes in Tibetan studies and has conducted extensive field research, both in Lhasa and in the Tibetan-Yi corridor of Pingwu county and elsewhere on the Sino-Tibetan frontier. He has been resident at the University of Virginia through the Tibet Center over the past academic year.

In his seminar, Professor Liu discussed the meaning and direction of minzu xue in China. He also spoke on the direction that China’s Tibetan studies (zang xue) are heading. In particular, he discussed the complexity of the term minzu. The concept has denoted different meanings at different times. Its translation into English has, correspondingly, led to some confusion. Today, according to Professor Liu, it is a politicized concept.

Liu Zhiyang contrasted the development of minorities studies with the discipline of anthropology (renleixue). Considered politically suspect, anthropology was eliminated as a field of study in China in favor of minorities studies. Today, the two fields have converged, with the one clear distinction that Chinese anthropology also includes within its purview the study of cultural difference among the “Han” nationality, while minorities studies does not.

Professor Liu recently returned to Guangzhou where he will continue teaching anthropology, minorities studies and Tibetan studies.

Screening and Discussion with Prominent Tibetan Directors

News item posted on: March 16th, 2010
Screening and Discussion with Prominent Tibetan Directors

Featuring Padma Tseten and Rigdan Gyatso

L016_silent_holy_stones

Prominent Tibetan film directors Padma Tseten and Rigdan Gyatso will be speaking about their experience as filmmakers in Tibet.

Rigdan Gyatso, whose latest work The Girl Lhari will have its New York premiere at Tibet in Harlem on March 19, will discuss his vision to create films and videos for children.

Padma Tseten (Silent Holy Stones, and The Search), who is enjoying increasing international recognition as a director, will show excerpts from his films with his commentary. The Search will be shown in its entirety on Saturday night, March 20th, at Tibet in Harlem. In 2005 Padma Tseten won the Golden Rooster (the equivalent of the Chinese Oscar) for best directorial debut.

Co-convened by the Tibet Center at UVa and Machik

Contemporary Art in Lhasa, a Visual Introduction

News item posted on: March 15th, 2010
Contemporary Art in Lhasa, a Visual Introduction

by Ian Alsop

the-artistsContemporary Art in Lhasa explores the world of the young Tibetan artists who walk the borderline of artistic expression in a fast-changing world. Lhasa is a place which inhabits the imagination of so many people, but where the reality may come as a bit of a surprise. The talk will offer an introduction to the vital contemporary art scene in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, and the artists who inhabit it. The presentation will draw heavily upon recent photographs.

Ian Alsop has been traveling regularly to Lhasa since his first trip in 1986, and since 1993 has represented several of the contemporary artists of Lhasa at his gallery in Santa Fe New Mexico. He also wrote one of the first articles on the subject for Orientations June 2007.

Ian Alsop lived in Kathmandu, Nepal from 1970 to 1988, where he eventually learned the Newari language and became a student of Nepalese cultural history. From 1980 he was involved in a project to produce a classical Newari dictionary, which is presently available on-line at Newari.net. He has written numerous articles on Nepalese and Tibetan art and culture in Orientations, Arts of Asia, and Artibus Asiae, and was a contributor to the MacMillan Dictionary of Art , The Art of Tibet: Towards a Definition of Style and the Marg volume on the Art of Nepal. He is also editor of an online Journal, Asianart.com. He and his wife Lois own and run a gallery of Asian fine art in Santa Fe, Peaceful Wind, and the associated gallery of Himlayan Contemporary art, PWContemporary now both managed by their son Vajra.

Lhasa artists ca. 2005 – photo by and copyright Lois Conner

CH04592-Lhasa-Artists-Lois-Conner

Lecture by Daniel Winkler – The Mushrooming Fungi Market

News item posted on: February 26th, 2010
The Mushrooming Fungi Market – Transforming rural Tibet

By Daniel Winkler, Tibeto-ecologist

Daniel Winkler in Nantong.

Daniel Winkler in Nantong.

The collection of wild edible fungi has a long-standing history in Tibet. Today, a wide variety of mushrooms is collected to supplement rural income. Because of the lucrative economic return, rural Tibetans have increased their gathering activities substantially. The trade of Dbyar rtswa dgun ‘bu (dongchong xiacao), as Tibetans know caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis), has developed into the main source of income in rural Tibet. It accounts for 40 percent of rural cash income and is spurring a globally unique commodification of fungi in the TAR. In 2008 the value of the best-quality Dbyar rtswa dgun ‘bu in Lha sa (Lasa) traded for around CN ¥80,000 (nearly US $12,000) per pound. The value of the 50 ton annual harvest of Cordyceps in TAR surpassed the value of the industry and mining sector in 2004. Most county agencies have established a permit system and require collectors to obtain licenses. The ever-growing economic importance of these fungi raises concerns regarding sustainability of current harvest levels and regarding the social impact of this annual income.

Daniel Winkler is a freelance “Tibeto-ecologist”. Trained as a geographer and ecologist (LMU in Munich and FU Berlin) Daniel specialized in rural development for High Asia. Daniel works as an environmental consultant and researcher living in Kirkland, Washington – USA. For the last twenty years his research and professional work focused on the environment of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas. Daniel’s special interest is balancing local landuse, nature-based income generation, and resource management to secure conservation and sustainable development for rural communities. Daniel has published in scientific journals on topics ranging from forest ecology and forestry to traditional landuse practices and medicinal plants and in recent years especially mushrooms. Most of his papers and much more (photo essays etc.) can be found on his website www.danielwinkler.com. Daniel is also frequently leading tours to Tibet [www.mushroaming.com].

Sponsored by TSGP and the Tibet Center at the University of Virginia

Book Reading by Canyon Sam

News item posted on: February 26th, 2010
Sky Train: Tibetan Women On the Edge of History

By Canyon Sam, writer, nationally acclaimed performance artist and activist

Canyon Sam

Through a lyrical narrative of her journey to Tibet in 2007, activist Canyon Sam contemplates modern history from the perspective of Tibetan women. Traveling on China ‘s new “Sky Train,” she celebrates Tibetan New Year with the Lhasa family whom she’d befriended decades earlier and concludes an oral-history project with women elders.

As she uncovers stories of Tibetan women’s courage, resourcefulness, and spiritual strength in the face of loss and hardship since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, and observes the changes wrought by the controversial new rail line in the futuristic “new Lhasa ,” Sam comes to embrace her own capacity for letting go, for faith, and for acceptance. Her glimpse of Tibet ‘s past through the lens of the women – a visionary educator, a freedom fighter, a gulag survivor, and a child bride – affords her a unique perspective on the state of Tibetan culture today – in Tibet , in exile, and in the widening Tibetan diaspora.

Sponsored by the Tibet Center at the University of Virginia

Lecture and Book Signing by Arjia Rinpoche – Surviving the Dragon

News item posted on: February 25th, 2010
Surviving the Dragon

Surviving the Dragon by Arjia Rinpoche

Surviving the Dragon is the story of Arjia Rinpoche’s growing up as the reincarnated abbot in Kumbum, one of Tibet’s major monasteries. His life in Tibet was one of great oscillations between fame and suffering. As a child, he was treated like a living Buddha; as a young man he emptied latrines during the Cultural Revolution. Then after the death of Mao Tse Tung, he rose to prominence within the Chinese Buddhist bureaucracy. He became Vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China and was slated to become its Chairman. At the height of his rise, he decided to flee China to the US, after being pressured to become tutor to the boy whom the Chinese government had controversially named the 11th Panchen Lama instead of the candidate selected by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The conflict was especially difficult for Arjia Rinpoche, since the 10th Panchen Lama had been his own teacher. As a result of his feeling that this would compromise his integrity as a Buddhist teacher in Tibet, he fled into exile rather than yield to the pressure.

Surviving the Dragon opens a window to events from inside Tibetan-Chinese history during the final half of the twentieth century, a conflict that continues today between China and its ethnic minorities.

Arjia Rinpoche will present the book to the public by giving a talk about his life and events in Tibet that took place during the time period of the book. In addition, he will sign copies of his book after the talk.

About the Author

Arjia Rinpoche is one of the most prominent Buddhist teachers and lamas to have left Tibet. At age two, he was recognized by the Panchen Lama as the 20th Arjia Danpei Gyaltsen, the reincarnation of Lama Tsong Khapa’s father, Lumbum Ghe, and the throne holder and abbot of Kumbum Monastery. He has trained with lineage teachers, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Panchen Lama, and Gyayak Rinpoche–from whom he received many sacred teachings and ritual instructions.

During the Cultural Revolution, Arjia Rinpoche was forced to attend Chinese schools and work in a forced labor camp for sixteen years, yet secretly continued to practice and study with his tutors. Following the Cultural Revolution, Rinpoche served as Abbot of Kumbum, one of the greatest of monasteries in Tibet. He oversaw renovations in the monastery and the reestablishment of monastic studies, and also launched a variety of other projects, including:

    Red Cross Organization in Kumbum
    Disaster Relief Project for local villages
    Clinic for villagers run by monks of the Tibetan Medical Institute and
    School for local village children

In 1998, due to the strained political climate in Tibet, Arjia Rinpoche went into exile, stating that he would not compromise his spiritual beliefs and practices. He escaped to the United States and started the Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom (TCCW) in Mill Valley, California. In 2005, he was appointed Director of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) in Bloomington, Indiana by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Presently, he directs both TCCW and TMBCC. Both centers are dedicated to the preservation of Buddhist teachings, art and culture within and outside of Tibet and Mongolia.

Arjia Rinpoche is the only Tibetan high lama of Mongolian descent. Throughout his life, Arjia Rinpoche was tutored by specialized teachers in the area of Buddhist philosophy, sutra and tantra teachings, as well as in Buddhist art and architectural design.

UVa Tibet Day 2010

News item posted on: February 12th, 2010
UVa Tibet Day

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This event is open to anyone who is interested in learning about opportunities to engage UVa’s Tibetan Studies program, including Tibetan Language, Tibetan Religion, Contemporary Tibetan Studies, Summer and Fall Travel Abroad opportunities, Tibetan Anthropology, SHANTI and the many resources available at UVa. The first half will be an informational section with representatives from Tibetan Language, the Contemporary Tibetan Studies Program, the Religious Studies Department, Anthropology, The Tibetan and Himalayan Library, Machik, and the UVa Tibet Center. The program will include Tibetan Calligraphy and song and dance performances.

Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures and Cultures with support from the UVa Tibet Center and the Asia Institute

Lecture by Pakpa Dondrup, Plateau Culture Initiative

News item posted on: February 1st, 2010
The Plateau Culture Initiative

By Pakpa Dondrup, The Plateau Culture Initiative

Pakpa Dondrup will discuss how the ETP (English training program) started in Xining. These trainees are also involved in producing English, Tibetan and Chinese language materials for the Plateau Culture initiative.

The Plateau Culture Initiative is comprised of three projects; Plateau Music Project, Plateau Photography Project, Asian Highland Perspectives (an Annual Journal).

The Plateau Music Project was founded in order to preserve endangered songs on the Tibetan plateau. Most of this music will disappear in the next decade. Their members, all local volunteers from English Training Program, Nationalities Teacher’s College, Qinghai Normal University, Qinghai Province, PR China, have since 2005 recorded more than five hundred Tibetan traditional songs. Beginning in late 2007, our project expanded to record endangered songs of other ethnic minority groups such as the Naxi and Pumi ethnicities in China’s Yunnan Province.

The Plateau Photographers Project has trained 62 young image makers (32 females and 30 males). Members come from rural communities in four provinces (Qinghai, Yunnan, Sichuan and Gansu) and although are primarily Tibetan, also include other ethnicities – Naxi, Namuyi, Pumi and Monguor (Tu). Each six months, new members train in basic photography and camera use. At the same time, returned members collate and archive their images before displaying them online and in their communities.

Sponsored by the East Asia Center and the Tibet Center at the University of Virginia.

Lecture by Elliot Sperling – Tangut Legends and Legacies in Tibet

News item posted on: January 21st, 2010
Tangut Legends and Legacies in Tibet

By Elliot Sperling, former chair of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, director of the department’s Tibetan Studies Program

The Tanguts, a Tibeto-Burman people, were a major presence on the Sino-Tibetan frontier for centuries, ultimately establishing a strong dynastic state known as Xixia in Chinese. The state’s destruction by the Mongols led to a migration of many Tanguts back onto the Tibetan Plateau where, under their Tibetan appellation, Mi-nyag, they appear as components of lineages stretching from Khams and A-mdo in Eastern Tibet, to Sikkim, in modern India, and even into Western Tibet. Claims of descent from the Tangut imperial clan appear in several Tibetan clan
histories; indeed in the lineage of Sikkim’s traditional rulers as well. Although the Tangut state still looms as little more than a bit of arcane lore for most Tibetanists, the fact is its impact on the Tibetan and Himalayan world-and particularly on the way that world imagined itself-was greater than many have long assumed

Sponsored by the East Asia Center and the Tibet Center at the University of Virginia.