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‘Tibetanness’ Under Threat?
Inner Asia Book Series
Uradyn E. Bulag
The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/ias
‘Tibetanness’ Under Threat?
Neo-Integrationism, Minority Education and Career
Strategies in Qinghai, P.R. China
Cover illustration: Dawa's performance during the Tibetan department graduation ceremony,
June 2008. (Source: author.)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
‘Tibetanness’ under threat? : neo-integrationism, minority education and career strategies in
Qinghai, P.R. China / by Adrian Zenz.
pages cm. -- (Inner Asia book series ; volume 9)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-90-04-25796-2 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Tibetans--China--Qinghai Sheng. 2. Tibetans-Education (Higher)--China--Qinghai Sheng. 3. Tibetans--Cultural assimilation--China--Qinghai
Sheng. 4. Nationalism--China--Qinghai Sheng. 5. Cultural pluralism--China--Qinghai Sheng.
This publication has been typeset in the multilingual “Brill” typeface. With over 5,100 characters
covering Latin, IPA, Greek, and Cyrillic, this typeface is especially suitable for use in the
humanities. For more information, please see www.brill.com/brill-typeface.
ISBN 978-90-04-25796-2 (hardback)
ISBN 978-90-04-25797-9 (e-book)
Copyright 2013 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Global Oriental, Hotei Publishing,
IDC Publishers and Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.
Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV
provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center,
222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA.
Fees are subject to change.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Notes on Transliteration
List of Figures
Education, Market and Language
Sinicisation, Hybridity and the ‘End-of-Tibetanness’
Structure, Agency and Strategy in Minority Education
Gauging Factions and Groupings Within the ‘Educated Tibetan
2. Tibetans in Qinghai Province: An Analysis of Recent
Contextualising the Fieldwork Setting
Qinghai’s Ethnic Landscape
Economic Developments, Market Reforms and the
Qinghai’s Tibetan Education Situation
3. ‘Harmonious’ Solutions to the Nationalities Question
Minority Rights Part I: Legal Frameworks and Political Trends
Chinese for Jobs: The Rising Force of Pragmatism
Minority Rights Part II: Han Centre-Periphery Models Past
Wenming, Suzhi, Kexue: Cultural Control and Strategic
Contradictory ‘Harmony’: Gauging the Core Tensions within
the State’s Minority Work Approach
4. Beyond Assimilation: The Tibetanisation of Tibetan Education
Making History: The Tibetanisation of Tibetan Education
From Tibetanisation to Re-Tibetanisation
Tibetanisation in the Midst of Adversity: An Analysis
of Enabling Factors
The 2010 ‘Qinghai gangyao’ Educational Reform Initiative:
Threat to Tibetan Education?
QUN Campus Dynamics: ‘Tibetan Worlds’ in the Midst
Conclusions: Sinicisation Through Minority Education
5. The Structural Dynamics of Finding ‘Adequate’ Employment in
Graduate Employment Statistics and Trends
Examining Minority Graduate Employment
Obligations, Anxieties, Preferences: The Significance of
Formal Government Employment
Corruption and Language in Government Recruitment
Conclusions: Career, Language and Ethnicity
6. Language, Career and ‘Helping My People’: Students’
Education and Employment Strategies
Learning “My Mother Tongue”: Education, Ethnicity and
“Facing Reality”: Pragmatist Strategies and Chinese-Medium
Creative Approaches to the Dilemma: Track Mixing
The Ethnically-Concious Alternative: Venturing
Career and ‘Tibetanness’ Between Isolation and Engagement
7. Authenticity, Hybridity and ‘In-Betweenness’: ‘Tibetanness’
Between Danger and Doubt
Hybridity and Ethnic Authenticity
‘Tibetanness’, Purity and Mixing
Authenticity and Linguistic Purity: The Case of Dawa
Hybridity, Ambiguity and Confusion
To Regret or To Not Regret? Dealing with ‘In-Betweenness’
Conclusion: Digital ‘Tibetanness’, Instrumental-Primordialism,
and the Battle Against Hybridity
8. Between Development and ‘Backwardness’: The Struggle
for ‘Modern Tibetanness’
Tibetan Discourses of Tibetan Modernity
Contrasting Perspectives on Tibetan Development
The Function and Significance of Discourses of Tibetan
Religion as Science: The Significance of Buddhism-Science
‘Modern Tibetanness’: Concluding Thoughts
9. Conclusions: Marketisation and the ‘End-of-Tibetanness’?
Education, Career, and Minority School Success
Marketisation versus Protectionism: How Can ‘Tibetanness’
Ethnicity versus Market: The Possibility of Ethnic
Hybridisation: The Beginning of the ‘End-of-Tibetanness’?
The Complex Way Ahead
This work would have been impossible without the personal support so
generously given by many people In particular, I am profoundly indebted
to my beloved wife Rachel, who lovingly took care of her family at home
day after day throughout the many years it took to complete this work.
Much gratitude is also due to my parents, who funded my PhD in Social
Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.
On the academic side, this work would have been impossible without
the close involvement of my supervisor Dr Hildegard Diemberger. I would
also like to thank Dr Uradyn Bulag for encouraging me to turn my PhD
thesis into a book manuscript, Brill’s anonymous reviewer for all the helpful comments, and especially Dr Andrew Fischer, who not only provided
many helpful insights but took significant amounts of time to answer
many questions and review my statistical analysis.
The true heroes of this research are undoubtedly its main ‘actors’—the
Tibetan students and educators who allowed me to be part of their lives,
and several of whom generously entertained me (and in some cases our
Author with wife, daughter and a group of close Tibetan student friends, June 2008
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