Robert Barnett et al., "Conflicting Memories: Tibetan History Under Mao Retold : Essays and Primary Documents" (Brill, 2020)


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After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, history under him was retold: for example, the Cultural Revolution was rebranded as “Ten Years of Chaos” and its policies were deemed “ultra-left.” In comparison to these changes in national narratives, how was the local history of Tibet under Mao retold after his death and in the subsequent decades of economic reform?

To answer this question, the edited volume Conflicting Memories: Tibetan History under Mao Retold (Brill, 2020) explores the writings of a range of both Han-Chinese and Tibetan writers, including official historians, unofficial autobiographers, memoirists, filmmakers, fiction-writers, and oral raconteurs. In addition to providing translated extracts from their work, the volume contains chapters of essays by renowned scholars of modern Tibetan history discussing the narratives produced, what types of people were producing them, what means they used, what aims they pursued, and in what ways did Tibetan accounts differ from those of Han-Chinese writers.

Robert Barnett is currently a Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and an Affiliated Lecturer at King’s College, London. He founded and directed the Modern Tibetan Studies program at Columbia University in New York from 1999 to 2018 and was the author and editor of a number of books on modern Tibet.

Françoise Robin teaches Tibetan language and literature at Inalco (French National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations). She has been engaged in Tibetan studies for the last 25 years, observing the evolution of Tibetan society under the political, economic, linguistic, and cultural domination of China. Her Ph.D. was the first to explore contemporary Tibetan Literature and its relevance to our understanding of today’s Tibetan society.

Benno Weiner is an Associate Professor of Chinese History at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier, which came out in 2020 with Cornell University Press. His other writings include, most recently, an essay entitled “Centering the Periphery: Teaching about Ethnic Minorities and Borderlands in PRC History,” which was published by The PRC History Review.

Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. candidate in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation is a digital humanities project mapping the history of transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting early twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.

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