Seminar – 21 May – Séagh Kehoe

May 7th, 2019 by


Tuesday 21 May 2019

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Séagh Kehoe

University of Leicester

Losing the “Spirit of the Grasslands”:
Economic Development, Cultural Commercialisation, and the Online Politics of Representation of Tibetan Modernity in Contemporary China

A core concern of the Great Western Development Campaign (GWDC) is the pursuit of national unity, social stability and state security through promoting economic development across China’s “restive” Western regions. Heralded as a solution to “the ethnic problem” in Tibet, economic development is characterised as an effective way of assimilating Tibet into the mainstream Chinese economy, thereby facilitating greater national integration. As part of this nation-building project, Tibetan culture has been spotlighted as a potential resource for generating economic growth. While the commodification of Tibetan culture may provide some opportunities for greater visibility, recognition and identity formation for some Tibetans, this program of “cultural development” (wenhua fazhan文化发展) has also produced a contested regime of value between the Chinese state and Tibetan society over the relationship between economic development and cultural authenticity. This talk examines how state media frames and communicates this project, and how this contributes to a broader representation of Tibetan modernity. It also analyses the ways in which Tibetans counter such discourses across online spaces, and how they mobilise a particular understanding of homeland as a tool of resistance against official representations.

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