Past Event

MTSP Postdoc Talk: Historian’s Time Loop: A Reflection on Field Research in the Sino-Tibetan Borderland

November 10, 2021
10:00 AM - 11:15 AM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
Zoom Webinar

SpeakerMarnyi Gyatso, Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University

Moderator: Gray Tuttle, Leila Hadley Luce Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies, Columbia University

This talk focuses on the production of historical knowledge on the Sino-Tibetan frontier, including reference materials by local officials at the turn of the twentieth century, the accounts of western explorers and missionaries, the field research of Chinese Republican-period scholars, and missions carried out by Chinese officials and scholars in the 1950s and post-1978 period. These sources all retain parallel narratives, as do interviews with local knowledge holders. Based on fieldwork in dozens of Tibetan villages in eastern Amdo, Marnyi Gyatso demonstrates that local Tibetans and outside investigators repeatedly trained each other in the past century, creating a pool of coherent narratives—a time loop for historians of several generations.

Marnyi Gyatso is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University and co-author of Shépa: The Tibetan Oral Tradition in Choné, with Bendi Tso, Mark Turin and Naljor Tsering (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, forthcoming). Working both in the field and archive, Dr. Marnyi Gyatso studies political, social and economic interactions between China and Inner Asia, in particular, the experiences of different ethnocultural groups across the eastern Tibetan Plateau from the fourteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. His current book project examines the resilience of the Tibetan tsowa society and its systems in the course of China’s transformation from empire to nation-state.

This event is organized by the Modern Tibet Studies Program at Columbia University and co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Contact Information

Lauran Hartley