Monday, March 28, 2011

Colonial Situation that I Propose to Analyze (#2)

After some waffling over the topic of my paper and presentation – specifically feeling indecisive about whether I ought to restrict my menu of colonial situations to those inside of the Mahgreb – I've decided to research the colonial history of Tibet. I initially thought of discussing the entire colonial history of this nation, which would have included Mongol and Indian occupation, that of Russian emissaries for a stint, shortly followed by roughly a decade of British colonization and finally over 40 years of usurpation. I was advised to save myself some sanity and narrow my scope, so I will look solely at the Chinese colonization of Tibet.

According to the website run by the Official Agency of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Administration to the Americas,

"The present Chinese policy, a combination of demographic and economic manipulation, and discrimination, aims to suppress the Tibetan issue by changing the very character and the identity of Tibet and its people."

The oppressive actions of the Communist government of China (which, being entirely opposed to religion, is very much at odds with the Buddhist government of Tibet, headed by the Dalai Lama) have forced more than 100,000 Tibetans into exile, but even more have perished. According to the Office of Tibet located in New York,

1.2 million Tibetans, one-fifth of the country’s population, died as a result of China’s policies; many more languished in prisons & labor camps; & more than 6,000 monasteries, temples & other cultural & historic buildings were destroyed & their contents pillaged.

The article does not even mention the other methods of genocide, such as forced sterilizations and abortions, rape of Tibetan women by Chinese men (meaning that after several generations, there will be a race that has very little of Tibet in its genetic make-up), and the mass amounts of Han Chinese being offered employment and paid to move to Tibet by the Chinese government.

Another part of this situation that I find both interesting and upsetting about this situation is our part in it. Unfortunately, I believe that our consumerism is feeding a monster, and that those in power are for now turning a blind eye to the atrocities. China is such a major player in the world market, that no nation that depends on its production would dare challenge the Chinese government's dealings. China's economy, on the other hand, would not have nearly as much to lose from a falling out with the U.S. since, as an article from U.S.-China Today about the Southern California port which handles most of the trade between our two nations explains,

"At the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports alone, the Los Angeles Customs District trade deficit was $83.5 billion in 2006. U.S. imports from China were valued at $104.7 billion and U.S. exports to China were valued at $21.3 billion."

It is as dismal and delicate of a situation as every one that we've talked about so far, but I will later explore possible solutions to the problems I've presented here. As we've talked about before in class, I still believe it is possible to realize anything that we can believe in, and I'm seeing that same hope and strength in the Tibetan struggle.


  1. Sarah, I love that you took notice of where the writings about Tibet were published. I honestly hadn't even thought of doing that concerning my topic. I also heard a Tibetan man speak in my Human Geography class, so either that is a huge coinscidence or I heard the same man speak- either way, I am excited to read what you find!

  2. I agree with Taelor: Smart thinking to look at the places of publication. As for the inevitability of colonialism, you could be right. After all, aren't parents practicing hegemony? What about teachers? Aren't we all, in some way? As for Tibet, though, they certainly are colonized, perhaps in both the traditional way, and via neo-colonialism. Let me know if I can help. I look forward to reading your paper.