The Tibet Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Currently under contract with Duke University Press (for the World Reader Series)

Editorial Team: Carole McGranahan (lead editor) with Lama Jabb, Dechen Pemba, Dhondup Tashi Rekjong, and Nicole Willock

Tibet is a country people think they know. Whether it is Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, Everest and mountaineering, or contemporary politics and human rights, Tibet appears on global radar screens with regularity. However, at the same time, Tibet has also long been shrouded in fantasy and mystery. Tibet is often described as forbidden, remote, magical; in short, a country impossible to fully know due to its geographical isolation, esoteric religious traditions, and current history of political conflict. In The Tibet Reader we propose to push past these two stereotyped images of Tibet, past both the disciplined, known Tibet of the global bourgeoisie and also the untamed, unknown Tibet of the longstanding “Myth of Shangri-la” that has squarely dominated both Asian and European writings on Tibet for decades, if not centuries. Instead our volume—in keeping with the Duke UP Latin America/World Reader Series tradition—focuses on the history, culture, and politics of contemporary Tibet via the cultural and literary traditions of the Tibetan people themselves alongside outsiders' writings about Tibet. Specifically, we propose a volume that showcases the wide range of Tibetan cultural expression from prayers to song lyrics, recipes to fiction, poetry to political art, and op-eds to prophecies. We intend to introduce readers to a Tibet composed of tradition and change, harmony and contradiction, and of Tibetan beliefs and practices refined over the centuries but specifically as experienced in the historical and political context of contemporary Tibet. In sum, we propose to introduce readers—Tibetans, travelers to Tibet, new and old friends (or enemies) of Tibet—to a new Tibet, albeit one that has always been there, to the Tibet pondered, celebrated, cursed, and claimed by Tibetans themselves over the last century.