Current Project

    Amdo Tibet, Middle Ground between Lhasa and Beijing: Early Modern Institutional and Intellectual Developments, 1578-1878

    Tibet was already a part of the global world in the early modern period, contrary to the claims of Tibetan nationalists and Chinese Communists, who describe Tibet as a tradition-bound society prior to 1950. Deploying Richard White’s concept of the “Middle Ground” in the context of two mature civilizations—Tibetan and Chinese—encountering one another, this project examines how the intellectual and economic centers of Tibet shifted east to Amdo, a Tibetan cultural region the size of France in northwestern China. This project focuses on three dramatic areas of growth that defined early modern Tibet: 1) the advent of mass monastic education, 2) the bureaucratization of reincarnate lamas’ charisma, and 3) the development of modern conceptions of geography that reshaped the way Tibet was imagined.

    (The project won a Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship of the American Council of Learned Societies, 2010)