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Workshop: Tibetan Borderlands

Workshop: Tibetan Borderlands

Martin Lavicka09 Feb 2015Leave a comment

Date: February 28, 2015 (Saturday)

Venue: Department of Asian Studies, Palacký University Olomouc, Křížkovského 14, Olomouc, room: 2.05

Registration online: here

Registration deadline: February 24, 2015

For practical information regarding transportation and the exact location of the Department of Asian Studies please visit here.

Abstracts can be viewed here.

There is a certain ambiguity concerning the perception of the peripheral areas of “ethnographic Tibet.” Tibetans themselves view these areas as locales of purity, of pristine habits and manners, yet at the same time as barbarian and dangerous.

There are locations along these border regions where foreign enemies could appear, and where barbarians follow their strange habits. But the borderlands also contain the “hidden lands” (sbas yul), which preserve an untouched purity of religion and society. Such hidden lands first appeared following the Mongol incursions of the 13th century: this in turn gave rise to a millenarian movement, rooted in the belief that the deteriorated manners in the rest of Tibet would be rejuvenated due to the original and uncorrupted teachings preserved in the pure lands of the peripheral locations.

Critical researchers might find the ambiguity inherent in the Tibetan Borderlands to be manifest on many different levels. On the one hand, the weak control of the central government allowed certain ancient cultural features to be preserved in the borderlands. On the other hand, the borderlands were places of contact between Tibetans and other neighbouring peoples. They mark not only cultural, but also political boundaries, and at the same time create a milieu in which unique local customs, language patterns, settlement forms and social communities can emerge. Such peculiar societies, with their rich cultural and religious traits, are a rewarding subject of research within the field of Tibetan Studies.

Workshop participants:

  • Diana Lange (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)
  • Gerald Kozicz (Technical University, Graz, Austria)
  • Elliot Sperling (Indiana University, Bloomington, USA)
  • Shen Weirong (Renmin University, Beijing, China)
  • Tsering Thar (Nationalities University, Beijing, China)
  • Charles Ramble (University of Oxford, UK)
  • Dan Berounský (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
  • Stevan Harrell (University of Washington, USA)
  • Xaver Erhard (Leipzig University, Germany)
  • Katia Buffetrille (EPHE, Paris, France)
  • Jarmila Ptáčková (Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic)


  • 09:00 – 09:10             Opening of the workshop
  • 09:10 – 09:40             Gerald Kozicz (Technical University, Graz, Austria)
    • Stupas, latos, tsatsakhangs: a preliminary report on the cultural topography of Hunder
  • 09:40 – 10:10             Diana Lange (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)
    • Tashilhunpo in the Nubra Valley: A preliminary report on the visual representation of cultural interactions between Tibet and Ladakh
  • 10:10 – 10:40             Elliot Sperling (Indiana University, Bloomington, USA)
    • Some notes on the history of Songpan
  • 10:40 – 11:00             Coffee break
  • 11:00 – 11:30             Shen Weirong (Renmin University, Beijing, China)
    • A recently discovered early Chinese biography of dPal ldan bkra shis (14th to 15th Century), A Tibetan lama from Amdo. New perspectives on the interaction between Ming China and Tibet.
  • 11:30 – 12:00             Tsering Thar (Nationalities University, Beijing, China)
    • The inscriptions on precipices at Li wer hermitage in Gyalrong
  • 12:00 – 12:30             Daniel Berounský (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
    • Some notes on the cult of the local deities in Amdo
  • 12:30 – 13:30             Lunch break
  • 13:30 – 14:00             Xaver Erhard (Leipzig University, Germany)
    • Liminal encounters: Representation of Liberation in contemporary Tibetan Literature from Amdo
  • 14:00 – 14:30            Jarmila Ptáčková (Oriental Institute of the CASc, Prague, Czech Republic)
    • Being a Tibetan nomad in modern China. Observations from Amdo
  • 14:30 – 15:00            Stevan Harrell (University of Washington, Seattle, USA)
    • Cultural Landscapes and Idealized Landscapes in Jiuzhaigou
  • 15:00 – 15:20             Coffee break 
  • 15:20 – 15:50             Katia Buffetrille (EPHE, Paris, France)
    • Tibetan “Borderlands” as a new center? Preliminary remarks
  • 15:50 – 16:20             Charles Ramble (EPHE, Paris, France)
    • The concepts of mtshams and mtha’: reflection on the significance of borders and margins in Tibetan religion and politics


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