In his post Not only freedom: the dark ethnic side of the Tibetan Buddhist revolt, anthropologist Gabriele Marranci challenges mainstream images of Tibetans as peaceful and writes about Tibetan racism, ethno-nationalistic dreams, and attacks against muslims in Tibet.
Both the mass media, academics, and even anthropologists specialised in Tibetan Buddhism, have hidden what Marranci calls the ‘dark ethnic side’ of the revolt.
The Muslims in Tibet have been the target of Buddhist Tibetan violence for some time now, especially since 9/11. During the recent protests in Tibet there were anti-muslim attacks:
The mosque in Lhasa was burnt and destroyed, shops and the possessions of Muslim Tibetans smashed, a family burned alive in their own shop, terror and terrorism have affected this community because of a pernicious form of ethnic (Buddhist) nationalism
Marranci points to the paper Close Encounters of an Inner Asian Kind: Tibetan-Muslim co-existence and conflict in Tibet past and present by Andrew Fischer. According to Fischer, the tensions are primarily the cause of ‘economic’ differences and opportunities:
During the 1990s Ethnic Tibetan Buddhist started to fear that the economic success of Muslim Tibetans (particularly their restaurants and shops), would have undermined the economic, and so social, status of the Buddhist Tibetans. The Buddhist monks began a campaign against the economic activities of Tibetan Muslims, which epitomised in the 2003 boycott of Muslims’ businesses and saw also violent actions against innocent Muslim Hui families
Since the beginning of the revolt in March, demonstrations against China are held in all those countries through which the Olympic torch is passing. From the politicians, to the public, from Hollywood to Bollywood, from the scholars (with few exceptions) to the students, from the Trade Unions to the Industrial associations: all show indignation against the ‘oppression of the Chinese government’. Yet they ignore the dark side of this ‘revolt’ which is not so different from that in 2003.
Meanwhile monks and lamas are just stoking the fire in the hope of not just a free Tibet but also an ethnically clean one!
First of all it seems like he is treating all the tibetans as a homogenous group which they are not. My second thought is that he to easily explain the attack on the muslim store and family with ethno-nationalism. It is to much functionalistic in my ears.
@ roy-arne varsi
functionalistic only as an attempt to demonstrate a nationalistic faction of buddhists? it begs the question, why go through the trouble?
im not sure marranci set out to crush the notion that buddhists are an all omni-philanthropic group, so much as to detail cases contradicting the idea since such events get very little to no coverage.
to the idea that buddhists can be vicious to the philanthropic concepts of ethics is hardly shocking to me as buddhists are still homo-sapien sapiens
This really isn’t a good piece, and certainly isn’t ‘anthropology’ as I would recognise it (apparently he’s in a theology department). As far as I can tell from Doc Marranci’s blog, he’s never been to Tibet (despite his endless trumpeting of his ‘method’) and has only read one article on the topic, whose conclusions look rather different from the way Marranci portrays them. So I wonder if he’s really an academic. While there certainly were anti-Hui attacks in the March protests, there is no evidence whatsoever that they were instigated by the monks or the Dalai Lama, which is just Beijing-inspired fantasy. This is about economic competition, not religious ethnic cleansing.
Also, Marranci does a fine job of self-aggrandising himself as the only person (apart from Fischer) who knows about this, when it’s actually long documented by a variety of Tibet anthropologists, just ones who actually read some books rather than spending all their time looking at press cuttings. Read the original Fischer article, not Marranci’s histrionic persecution polemics.
Marranci is an anthropologist and as you can read on the about-page he has specialised in studying muslim communities and the anthropology of Islam. He criticizes the mainstream media coverage and yes, he is not the only one. I’ve read several related pieces recently actually, mostly not written by journalists, but by academics. Marrancis’ posts are generally well researched
London Review of Books have some open letters in response to zizek’s move
Yak Herder sounds like Free Tibet Campaigner-AHA. This guy is in denial about Tibet and Tibetans-big time! If that is you pal, how can you claim you are an expert when you only went to Tibet for a short trip in the 1990’s? You certainly know how to talk the talk, but did you ever really walk the walk? Leave Marranci alone and get back to your lost campaign! People in Tibet don’t benefit from your campaign, so get real. Marranci is only stating the truth-hurts so bad, doesn’t it?
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