History as Propaganda
Tibetan Exiles Versus the People's Republic of China
By (author) John Powers
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History as Propaganda by John Powers
Book DescriptionDespite Chinese efforts to stop foreign countries from granting him visas, the Dalai Lama has become one of the most recognizable and best loved people on the planet, drawing enormous crowds wherever he goes. By contrast, China's charismatically-challenged leaders attract crowds of protestors waving Tibetan flags and shouting "Free Tibet!" whenever they visit foreign countries. By now most Westerners probably think they understand the political situation in Tibet. But, John Powers argues, most Western scholars of Tibet evince a bias in favor of one side or the other in this continuing struggle. Some of the most emotionally charged rhetoric, says Powers, is found in studies of Tibetan history. History is viewed by both sides as crucial to their claims, and both invest a great deal of energy in producing works that purport to tell the "truth" about Tibet's past. Powers shows that the two sides' views are mutually incompatible and that both sides sincerely believe what they say. Both are operating within a particular psychological context in which certain assumptions guide their inquiry and predetermine their conclusions. Both are so thoroughly convinced of the utter rightness of their paradigms that they cannot even imagine that someone might sincerely hold the opposing view, and so they accuse their opponents of deliberately lying and covering up the "facts" and the "truth." Both reflect the vastly different cultural myths of the societies that produced them. Chinese sources begin with the notion that China is at the center of the world and is the only civilized society, with a mandate to rule over all other countries. Tibetan records are thoroughly infused with Buddhist imagery and presuppositions, and the underlying narrative is the diffusion and glorification of religion. Powers examines works on Tibetan history by Tibetan and Chinese authors that have been produced in English for Western consumption. He finds some of their claims absurd, others highly implausible, some humorous in an unintended way. Both narratives are fraught with internal contradictions and inconsistencies. And even the most ridiculous notions, Powers notes, are often reflected in works by contemporary Western academics. Powers's impartial examination of the competing narratives will help us to better understand the issues involved in debates about Tibetan history-why apparently arcane vestiges of the past are so important to both Tibetan and Chinese nationalist narratives.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780195174267
(242mm x 163mm x 20mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 28-Oct-2004
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author John Powers
Buddha Party, Hardback (November 2016)
The Buddha Party tells the story of how the People's Republic of China employs propaganda to define Tibetan Buddhist belief and sway opinion within the country and abroad.
Scriptures of the World's Religions, Paperback (April 2014)
Brings together the world's most influential sacred texts. This text includes chapters on the twelve major religious traditions as well as two chapters on indigenous religious practices.
Bull of a Man, Paperback (April 2012)» View all books by John Powers
A study of various aspects of the early Buddhist tradition. It focuses on the figure of the Buddha and his monastic followers to show how they were constructed as paragons of masculinity, whose powerful bodies and compelling sexuality attracted women, elicited admiration from men, and convinced skeptics of their spiritual attainments.
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Author Biography - John Powers
John Powers is a Reader at the Centre for Asian Studies and Histories at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is the author of numerous books, including A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2000) and Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (1995).
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