The Making of Modern Tibet

The Making of Modern Tibet

The Making of Modern Tibet

The Making of Modern Tibet


By utilizing previously ignored archival material from three continents and drawing conclusions focused on the available documentation, The Making of Modern Tibet is the first successful attempt to reach beyond the polemics so often generated in Tibet studies to present a clear and accessible history of this fascinating country. This new edition is enriched by striking photographs and a comprehensive updating of the issues that have emerged since the publication of the first edition.


I completed the research and writing for this book sometime late in 1985, and it was published early in 1987. Much has changed since then, and much, unfortunately, has not.

Tibet has changed considerably. All ethnic minorities now make up nearly 9 percent of China's population. Like the rest of China, Tibet has experienced a return of a market economy, and, coupled with the continuing financial investment by the government in Beijing, economic development is in evidence almost everywhere. Along with a higher material standard of living, especially in the cities, has come a huge influx of ethnic Chinese, particularly in Lhasa, resulting in greater ethnic tensions. Greater openness has also meant the appearance of tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year. Less restrictions have also allowed for more public demonstrations of Tibetan nationalism followed, inevitably, by harsh responses from the authorities. There is now a very different look and feel to Tibet from a decade ago.

A small number of scholars are now permitted to conduct research in Tibet, albeit with considerable constraints. Compared to a decade ago, there are substantially more published sources in Tibetan, Chinese, and English, although there are few actual government documents and these are limited to texts that demonstrate some historic Sino-Tibetan relationship.

Also, in recent years the subject of Tibet has become a worldwide phenomenon, thanks to a concerted campaign on the part of the Dalai Lama's administration to garner support for its cause. This campaign has resulted in an outpouring of published materials in a host of languages and has awakened the international media to the issue of Tibet and its relations with China. While this campaign has generated considerable heat and an army of supporters for the Dalai Lama, it has generated very little light on the subject of Tibet's history because its intent is to . . .

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