Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies

Overview

In the past century, the Western view of Tibet has evolved from an exotic Shangri-la filled with golden idols and the promise of immortality, to a peaceful land with an enlightened society now ravaged by outside aggression. How and why did our perception change? How accurate are our modern conceptions of Tibet?

Imagining Tibet is a collection of essays that reveal these Western conceptions. Providing an historical background to the West's ever-changing relationship with Tibet, ...

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Overview

In the past century, the Western view of Tibet has evolved from an exotic Shangri-la filled with golden idols and the promise of immortality, to a peaceful land with an enlightened society now ravaged by outside aggression. How and why did our perception change? How accurate are our modern conceptions of Tibet?

Imagining Tibet is a collection of essays that reveal these Western conceptions. Providing an historical background to the West's ever-changing relationship with Tibet, Donald Lopez, Jeffrey Hopkins, Jamyang Norbu, and other noted scholars explore a variety of topics - from Western perceptions of Tibetan approaches to violence, monastic life, and life as a nation in exile, to representations of Tibet in Western literature, art, environmentalism, and the New Age movement.

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Editorial Reviews

Orville Schell
"Imagining Tibet brings together some of our most thoughtful scholars to ruminate on the ways that mythology has become merged with what we take to be the reality of Tibet. A rich kaleidoscope of insights on this fascinating subject."
Melvyn C. Goldstein
"This illuminating collection of essays will be of interest to all Tibet-watchers, whatever their political or intellectual persuasion."
Tsering Shakya
"This important book shows how Tibet's realities are represented by others; it should be read by everyone interested in the origin and subtext of such fascination and imagery."
Religious Studies Review
"An important discussion of the western mythology of Tibet as Shangri-La. It includes three papers on foreign missionaries and scholars of Tibet, eight works on the western and Chinese views of Tibet as other, eight commentaries, and a synthesis by the editors. It also includes a foreword by Tsering Shakya, a bibliographic reference, biographical data, and a useful index. A delightful book."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861711918
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 7/10/2005
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thierry Dodin is a Tibetologist who has taught at the University of Bonn and recently served as director of the Tibet Information Network in London.

Heinz Raether works as a Tibetologist at the Universities of Ulm. He lives in Dusseldorf, Germany.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Preface xi
I. Missionaries and Scholars
The Image of Tibet in the West before the Nineteenth Century 3
Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Missionary Images of Tibet 21
Tibet Images among Researchers on Tibet 47
II. The Sight of the "Other"
"Truth," Perception, and Politics: The British Construction of an Image of Tibet 67
Tibetan Horizon: Tibet and the Cinema in the Early Twentieth Century 91
Old Tibet a Hell on Earth? The Myth of Tibet and Tibetans in Chinese Art and Propaganda 111
Tibet, Theosophy, and the Psychologization of Buddhism 151
The Role of Tibet in the New Age Movement 167
The Image of Tibet of the Great Mystifiers 183
Not Only a Shangri-la: Images of Tibet in Western Literature 201
The Development in Perceptions of Tibetan Art: From Golden Idols to Ultimate Reality 223
III. Standpoints
Tibetan Monastic Colleges: Rationality versus the Demands of Allegiance 257
"Violated Specialness": Western Political Representations of Tibet 269
"Orientalism" and Aspects of Violence in the Tibetan Tradition 317
Tibetan Culture As a Model of Ecological Sustainability 331
Tradition, Modernity, and Environmental Change in Tibet 339
Shangri-la in Exile: Representations of Tibetan Identity and Transnational Culture 357
Behind the Lost Horizon: Demystifying Tibet 373
Buddhism in the West and the Image of Tibet 379
IV. Final Considerations
Imagining Tibet: Between Shangri-la and Feudal Oppression: Attempting a Synthesis 391
Bibliography 417
List of Contributors 453
Index 459
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