(Cornell University Press, 2020)
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In The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier, Benno Weiner provides the first in-depth study of an ethnic minority region during the first decade of the People’s Republic of China: the Amdo region in the Sino-Tibetan borderland. Employing previously inaccessible local archives as well as other rare primary sources, he demonstrates that the Communist Party’s goal in 1950s Amdo was not just state- building, but also nation-building. Such an objective required the construction of narratives and policies capable of convincing Tibetans of their membership in a wider political community.
However, as Weiner shows, early efforts to “gradually” and “organically” transform a vast multiethnic empire into a singular nation-state lost out to a revolutionary impatience, demanding more immediate paths to national integration and socialist transformation. This led in 1958 to communization, then large-scale rebellion and its brutal pacification. Rather than a voluntary union, Amdo was integrated through the widespread, often indiscriminate use of violence, a violence that lingers in the living memory of Amdo Tibetans and others.
“The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier is one of the few accounts in English of the relatively neglected watershed year of 1958, when the so-called Chinese revolution was actually brought to non-Chinese communities in the western frontier zone. Compellingly narrated, this book has remarkable contemporary relevance.”
– Charlene Makley, Reed College, author of The Battle for Fortune