Competing Nationalisms: Tibet, China, and the West

The Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop and

East Asia Trans-Regional Histories Workshop jointly present a special workshop session:

Competing Nationalisms:

Tibet, China, and the West

Guest Speakers:

Robert Barnett (Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University)

Tsering Wangdu Shakya (Canadian Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia, University of British Columbia)

Chaohua Wang (Essayist and editor of “One China, Many Paths”)

With responses offered by

Scott Relyea, University of Chicago Ph.D candidate, History

Saul Thomas, University of Chicago Ph.D candidate, Anthropology

November 21 (Friday) 3:006:00

Social Science Building

As the Beijing Olympics have dominated recent discussions about the current reality and future prospects of the People’s Republic of China, much needed analysis of the tumultuous protests and riots in the Tibetan regions of western China in March and April 2008 has been pushed to the sidelines.  We are now several months away from a crisis that not only exposed serious fault lines in the construction of a unified and harmonious China but also laid bare the underlying (dis)contents of contemporary nationalisms in the region.

Distance in time, we hope, will allow us to develop reasoned perspectives on the events in Tibet and its surrounding regions, and on the outpouring of competing reactions that quickly ensued.

For this reason, we have invited three speakers – Wang Chaohua, Robert Barnett, and Tsering Wangdu Shakya– to share their perspectives and lead an informed discussion that seeks to re-examine the dynamics, motivations, and timing of the protests; the voices and media that sought to represent and define the crisis; and the broader historical and political implications of the mobilization of different nationalisms and imperialisms that framed these events.

This event is generously co-sponsored by the China Committee of the Center for East Asian Studies, the Undergraduate Program in International Studies, the Norman Wait Harris Memorial Fund of the Center for International Studies, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies.

Persons who have a disability and believe they may need assistance, please contact Kathryn Tanaka at

Suggested Readings:

Articles by Workshop Presenters:

Download Wang Chaohua’s Political Dissent and Tale of 2 Nationalisms

Download Tsering Shakya’s Blood in the Snows and an interview in the New Left Review.  Professor Tsering Shakya also asked us to view this clip and have a look at his translation of the text.

Download an interview with Robert Barnett published in Foreign Policy. Please also take a look at his articles on Internal Sovereignty, One China, and Two Realities.

Relevant Articles:

Download Wang Hui’s Orientalism, Autonomy of Ethnic Regions, and the Politics of Respect (Chinese) and Depoliticized Politics: From East to West


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