Borders, Politics, and Identity among Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples – syllabus coming soon (ASIA3015 / 3 credits)
Students examine politics on the geopolitical scale, including the significance of various regions in the Himalayas as well as the maneuvering between Asia’s giants, India and China. Through examination of current conditions in the region, students are asked to reflect on and reconceptualize ideas of power, autonomy, authority, and vulnerability on individual, group, and state levels. The course challenges the prevalent analysis of Tibetan(-oid/-ish) politics synchronically and in emic terms, disconnected from change, larger dynamics, and regional events, including religious preferences. Individual political systems are examined, such as the Tibetan government in exile and the young implementation of the Nepalese constitution. This course also examines the politics inherent in processes of everyday life in an exile community, covering themes such as individual articulations of identity as well as the politics of language and of religious practice. Tibetan Buddhism is examined in relation to the broader Tibetan(-oid/-ish) cultural sphere and civilization, incorporating but not limited to the realms of politics (including the “Tibet issue”) and of ritual. The course goes beyond the typical focus on Himalayan culture in terms exclusively of a core Tibetan Buddhism. Furthermore, the course assesses how emerging systems such as secularism and spiritual materialism, whether or not sprung from Communist ideologies, also play determining roles across the region.