Dilemmas in Writing National Histories: The Case for China and Tibet


Project mission
This website is designed to incite discussion and debate on the ways we construct and imagine national identity through historical narratives. Initially, the project developed from a seminar which explored theories of nationalism in order to analyze competing representations of Chinese and Tibetan history. Following the lead of the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East, which juxtaposes Israeli and Palestinian views regarding conflict in that region, our goal is to provide a panoramic view of the divergent narratives that can be found within the conflict between China and Tibet. The ever evolving discourse on nationalism is central to the way historical writing is framed. Through historiographical inquiry informed by nationalist theory, scholars can better approach all sides of an issue rooted in historical precedent. This is particularly evident in the case of contemporary movements for an independent Tibet or, conversely, a Tibet under Chinese authority. We hope that this site may help to build a legacy of agency into the literature of historical relations between China and Tibet for scholars interested in exploring issues of group membership, national identity, and national sovereignty in the region.

How this website works
In order to implement the above mentioned goals, we have placed three narratives of Chinese-Tibetan history within a single visual field. This method provides a juxtaposition of Chinese and Tibetan perspectives along with a third party's writing, which we have labeled the 'scholar's perspective.' The intent is neither to explicitly highlight errors in the historical accounts nor to champion one perspective above the others. Instead, we hope to present central issues in Chinese-Tibetan relations that warrant further attention and investigation. By clicking on a particular time period, you can read three distinct narratives of history in relation to one another. We hope it will call attention to the nuanced role nationalism plays in the construction of historical record. Bolded proper nouns and other terms that appear in the text are glossed at the bottom of each page.

Historical accounts in dialogue
The Period of Rival Empires
Tibet and China Under Mongol Domination
Economy and Religion Between China and Tibet
China and Tibet Under Manchu Rule
Republican China and Independent Tibet
China and Tibet Under PRC Rule

Periodization of Tibetan History
Compiled by Dan Martin

Glossary of proper nouns

Contributors
The content for this website was created by: Tsering Dhongthog, Sarah Comer, Hojeong Choe, Seul ki Park, Daniel Fridson, Alexandra McElwee, Kristen Sollee, Megan Marino, and Marc Berger
Edited by: Alexandra McElwee, Kristen Sollee, Megan Marino, and Marc Berger
Designed by: Marc Berger

Works cited as listed in the syllabus:

The Period of Rival Empires (Tibetan Empire & Tang Dynasty)
Tibetan view: W. D. Shakabpa. Ch2 “The empire of the early kings of Tibet.” Tibet: A Political History. pp. 23-53.
Chinese view: Wang and Nyima. Ch 1 “Relations between the Han and the Tibetans in the Tang and Song Dynasties.” The Historic Status of China’s Tibet.
Zhang Shixiong, Jiao Shuji, and Bai Yu. The ancient Tangbo Road: Princess Wen Cheng’s Route to Tibet. 3-13.
Scholarly view: Christopher Beckwith. “The Tibetans in the Ordos and North China: Considerations on the Role of the Tibetan Empire in World History,” 1-11.

Tibet and China under Mongol Domination (Sakya Lamas under Mongol Empire & Yuan Dynasty)
Tibetan view: W. D. Shakabpa. Ch4 “Lamas and Patrons.” Tibet: A Political History. pp. 61-72.
Chinese view: Wang and Nyima. Ch 2 “Relations Between the Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty and the Prince of Dharma of the Sagya Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.” The Historic Status of China’s Tibet.
Rinchen trashi. “Tibetan Buddhism and the Yuan Royal Court.” Tibet Studies. 1-26.
Scholarly view: Herbert Franke. 1983. “Tibetans in Yüan China.” In China among equals: the Middle Kingdom and its neighbors, 10th-14th centuries pp. 296-328.

Economy and Religion between China and Tibet (Pakmodru Regime & Ming Dynasty)
Tibetan view: W. D. Shakabpa. Ch5 “The Phamo Drupa, Rinpung, and Tsangpa Hegemonies.” Tibet: A Political History. pp. 73-90.
Chinese view: Wang and Nyima. Ch 3 “Ming Dynasty's Policy of Enfieffment and Tribute-Related Trade.” The Historic Status of China’s Tibet.
Du Changfeng. “The Tribute-Paying by Ü-Tsang to the Ming Court.” Tibet Studies, 2.2. 1990. pp. 84-96.
Scholarly view: Gray Tuttle. “Using Zhu Yuanzhang’s communications with Tibetans to justify PRC rule in Tibet.”

China and Tibet under Manchu Rule (Qing Dynasty)
Tibetan view: W. D. Shakabpa. Ch9 “Beginnings of Manchu Influence,” Ch10 “War with the Gurkhas and Dogras.” Tibet: A Political History. pp. 140-183.
Chinese view: Wang and Nyima. Ch 4 “The Sovereign-Subject Relationship Between the Qing Dynasty Emperor and the Dalai Lama.” The Historic Status of China’s Tibet.
Yu Changan. “On the Policies of Administration for the Tibet Region formulated by the Central Government of the Qing Dynasty.” In Theses on Tibetology in China (II). pp. 117-147. (see next entry as well…)
Scholarly view: Chen Qingying. “Lcang-skya Rolpavi-rdorje and Emperor Qian Long.” pp. 67-90.

Republican China and Independent Tibet
Tibetan view: W. D. Shakabpa. Ch14: “Tibet’s struggle to maintain her independence,” Ch15: “Further evidence of Tibetan independence,” Ch 16 “Clashes between Tibetans and Chinese in Khams.” Tibet: A Political History. pp. 224-274.
Chinese view: Wang and Nyima. Ch 5-6 “British Invasion and the Birth of the Myth of "Tibetan Independence"” & “Tibet Is Not an Independent Political Entity During the Period of the Republic of China.” The Historic Status of China’s Tibet.
Yang Gongsu. “The Origin and Analysis of the Schemes of the so-called ‘Independence for Tibet’.” In Theses on Tibetology in China (I). pp. 290-353.
Scholarly view: Gray Tuttle. “Saving Republican China through religious activity: Chinese reliance on Tibetan Buddhism.” pp. 1-42.

China and Tibet under Han Chinese Rule (PRC)
Chinese view: Wang and Nyima. Ch7-8 “The Founding of the People's Republic of China and the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.” & “Armed Rebellion in Tibet Opposed the Democratic Reform Through Which Serfs Win Human Rights.” The Historic Status of China’s Tibet.
Dissident view: Song Liming. “Reflections on the Seventeen-point Agreement of 1951.” Tibet through Dissident Chinese Eyes: Essays on Self-Determination. pp. 55-70.
Tibetan view: W. D. Shakabpa. Ch18: “The Chinese Communist Invasion,” Ch19: “The Revolt,” Ch 20 “Conclusion.” Tibet: A Political History. pp. 299-325.
Scholarly views: Melvyn Goldstein. “On modern Tibetan history: Moving beyond stereotypes,” in Tibet and her neigbours, a history. Pp. 217-226.
John Powers. 2004. History as Propaganda. “Family Reunion,” 122-139.

New Directions: “Chinese” Tibetans and Pro-Tibetan Chinese
Heather Stoddard. “Tibetan Publications and National Identity.” Resistance and Reform in Tibet. Robert Barnett and Shirin Akiner. pp. 121-156.
Wang Xiaoqiang. “The Dispute between the Tibetans and the Han.” Resistance and Reform in Tibet. Robert Barnett and Shirin Akiner. pp. 290-295.
Cao Changching. “Brainwashing the Chinese,” “ Independence: The Tibetan People’s Right.” Tibet through Dissident Chinese Eyes: Essays on Self-Determination. pp. 3-31.