"Cultural Genocide" and Tibet

By Sautman, Barry | Texas International Law Journal, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

"Cultural Genocide" and Tibet


Sautman, Barry, Texas International Law Journal


"[I]n ten years there won't be a Tibet anymore."

Samdhong Rinpoche, president, Tibetan exile parliament (now Kalon

Tripa, chief minister of the cabinet), 19941

"Tant de gens se sont crus traques et ont ecrit une litterature de traques sans tracas." [So many people have believed they were persecuted and have written a literature of persecution, without any persecution taking place.]

Jean Genet2

I. INTRODUCTION

In the 1930s, the sociologist Karl Mannheim famously described ideologies as instruments for use in political action by ruling groups that seek to retain or regain power. Ideologies, he adjured, should be approached critically to gain what insights they possess, but should never be confused with reality, which Mannheim deemed to be a socially and historically determined set of meanings.3 While nationalism may not be independent of such host ideologies as liberalism, conservatism, and fascism,4 it is a Mannheimian ideology because of its association with political myth.5 Nationalists are so myth-prone that their academic defenders strain to reconcile mythmaking with standards of intellectual integrity. A leading proponent of liberal nationalism contends that if nationalist myths suppress what is negative in the history of a nation, they do so to facilitate moralizing that encourages its members to live up to ancestral virtues.6 A conservative defender of nationalism argues that even deliberate falsehoods should be condoned where mythmaking is essential to a merited nationalist project.7

Nationalism is often based upon what Liah Greenfeld calls ressentiment, the cognitive dissonance between a conviction that a people should be well placed in the hierarchy of nations and the fact that it is not.8 Ressentiment is displayed as righteous anger at the purported victimization of a people by a powerful state. While examples of national oppression abound and give rise to many legitimate grievances, claimed aggrievance is ubiquitous among nationalist movements and serves the main function of an ideology, which is mobilization.9 Nationalists often seek to activate their nation or putative nation and garner international support by invoking "nationalist myths" of moral grievance-even where there is no clear pattern of ethnic oppression or where some deleterious policies exist alongside countervailing practices.10 The nationalist penchant for magnifying ethnic particularities in order to reinforce national identities,11 combined with the not uncommon nationalist practice of hyperbolizing moral grievance, leads to the political mystification that Mannheim wrote about and that the Tibet case exemplifies.

The ideology of the Tibetan emigre leaders headquartered in Dharamsala, India centers on the notion that Tibet has been occupied by China for five decades and has thereby experienced a particularly destructive form of colonialism.12 The Dalai Lama has stated that "Tibet was an independent country before its occupation by China.... There is no justification claiming that Tibet was 'part of China' as Peking claims today."13 He has further said: "Fundamentally, the issue of Tibet is political. It is an issue of colonial rule: the oppression of Tibet by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and resistance to that rule by the people of Tibet."14 This position is upheld even though every state in the world recognizes that Tibet is part of China, and no state deems Tibet a colony.

Emigre leaders attribute a malign purpose and effect to all actions of "the Chinese" in Tibet but do so especially where Tibetan culture is concerned. The Dalai Lama has stated: "The Chinese authorities view Tibet's distinct culture and religion as the source of threat of separation. Hence as a result of deliberate policies an entire people with its unique culture and identity are facing the threat of extinction."15 Emigre leaders claim that the impetus for their demarches to China is "to preserve the unique cultural identity of Tibet.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Cultural Genocide" and Tibet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.