Immigrant Ambassadors: Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora

Synopsis

The Tibetan diaspora began fifty years ago when the current Dalai Lama fled Lhasa and established a government-in-exile in India. For those fifty years, the vast majority of Tibetans have kept their stateless refugee status in India and Nepal as a reminder to themselves and the world that Tibet is under Chinese occupation and that they are committed to returning someday.

In the 1990s, the U. S. Congress passed legislation that allowed 1,000 Tibetans and their families to immigrate to the United States; a decade later the total U. S. population includes some 10,000 Tibetans. Not only is the social fact of the migration- its historical and political contexts- of interest, but also how migration and resettlement in the U. S. reflect emergent identity formations among members of a stateless society.

Immigrant Ambassadors examines Tibetan identity at a critical juncture in the diaspora's expansion, and argues that increased migration to the West is both facilitated and marked by changing understandings of what it means to be a twenty-first-century Tibetan- deterritorialized, activist, and cosmopolitan.