Seminar – 1 December – Dan Smyer-Yü

December 1st, 2015 by


Tuesday 1 December

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Dan Smyer-Yü

Centre for Trans-Himalayan Studies, Yunnan Minzu University

Post-Orientalist Perceptions of Tibet

Tibet has a frequent appearance in global discourses of humanitarian issues, climate changes, environmental conservation, peace-building, religion-science dialogue, social engagement of Buddhism, creative arts, and New Age Spiritualty in the twenty-first century. It continues to spark imaginations of all sorts globe-wise. Scholarly critiques of “the imagined Tibet” as a popular cultural trend were initiated in the 1990s to de-essentialize the idealized image of Tibet and Tibetans. It undoubtedly has critical impact on the public understanding of Tibet in the modern context; however, it is also noticeable that the initially intended de-essentializing effort is evolving into a recognizable essentialization of those who have strong interest in Tibetan culture, religion, and environment. This talk, based on one of the themes in the author’s book, is intended to critique how the power-representation discourse adopted from Edward Said’s Orientalism is utilized in the context of modern Tibetan studies. Through case studies of perceptions of Tibet in China and the West, it proposes a post-Orientalist perspective from which the unique landscape of Tibet is understood as the foundation for a type of topophilia, which antecedently triggers what scholars characterize as “imagination,” “fantasy,” or “hallucination.”

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