Lecture by Abraham Zablocki, The Dalai Lama and Taiwan

News item posted on: March 3rd, 2009
The Dalai Lama and Taiwan: The Globalization of Tibetan Buddhism and its Implications for Tibet, Taiwan, and China

By Abraham Zablocki, Agnes Scott College

The global spread of Tibetan Buddhism reveals a model of transnational complexity that extends our understanding of the dynamics of globalization. This paper explores the rapprochement between Taiwan and Tibetan exiles settled in South Asia and the consequences of this rapprochement for relations between both parties and China.
Tibetan Buddhism’s booming popularity in Taiwan created important religious and patronage links between the Tibetan diaspora and Taiwanese Buddhists, while also generating a framework for a transformed Tibetan-Taiwanese political relationship. These changes are simultaneously rooted in two very different cultural imaginaries: the mystique enjoyed by Tibetan tantric Buddhism in imperial-era China, and the global emergence of the Dalai Lama as an icon of transnational popular appeal. By exploring the intersection of these two imaginaries in the case of contemporary Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan, the paper argues for an understanding of globalization and transnational complexity that can accommodate the interplay of multiple non-Western paradigms of tradition, modernity, and change, without using the West as the baseline against which globalization need be understood.

Sponsored by the East Asia Center and the Department of Anthropology