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CAW: Central Asia and Tibet II

Workshop with Federica Venturi, visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology

Thursday, February 27, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
11372 Bunche Hall

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The Great Game in Tibet: A View from the Sources

This workshop, the second in a series on the role of Tibet within a wider Central Asian context, will focus on the 19th century, a period in which the history of Asia cannot be contemplated without giving appropriate attention to the extensive competition between Russia and Britain for influence over Central Asia. The rivalry between these two states involved soldiers and spies, diplomats and traders, government attachés and local collaborators; in addition, it implicated the higher political échelons in London and St. Petersburg, as well as Calcutta, Lahore, and Delhi. Britain, anxious to protect India from a possible Russian advance, labored to maintain Tibet as a large buffer state between Russia’s new imperial possessions in Central Asia and the subcontinent. In so doing, however, it had to open discussions both with the Tibetan government and the Qing administration, that resented British interference in what they considered their sphere of influence.

After a brief presentation on the Great Game in general, in the workshop we shall read and analyze a set of three letters-one penned by the 13th Dalai Lama, one by a British diplomat, and one by a Russian diplomat-that exemplify the different discourses advanced by each party and illustrate a set of complex geo-political circumstances that have ramifications still today.This is the second meeting of a two-part workshop on Central Asia and Tibet. It will include a discussion of Tibet as a pivotal component of the Great Game played between Russia and Great Britain for predominance in Central Asia in the 19th century.

RSVP IS REQUIRED. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

This is the second meeting of a two-part workshop series. Part I will be held on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 6:00 PM. It will discuss the various cultural exchanges that might occur among the various ethnic and social groups that gravitated around the Silk Road through a group reading of a Tibetan manuscript from Dunhuang which purports to narrate the travels of five Uyghur envoys, sent by their king to investigate neighboring people.

Federica Venturi is a researcher at the CRCAO, CNRS in Paris and a visiting scholar in the Anthropology Department at UCLA for the 2019-2020 academic year. Her work centers around various aspects of Tibetan history, including the sanctioning of violence for political reasons by Tibetan Buddhist hierarchs and how the relation between politics, economics and religion affected the history of holy places in Tibet. She has published several articles and a monograph on Tibetan holy places, as well as articles on different aspects of the Tibetan army. In addition to her contributions on the history of the Tibetan army, she is working on a history of the monastery of Sa skya.

The Central Asia Workshop is an interdisciplinary discussion group sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia. The goal of the workshop is to encourage graduate student research on Central Asia by creating a space where students and interested faculty can discuss research, theory and ideas with others who have experience or interest in the region. The workshop is a forum for exploring recent research and classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives that inform work in Central Asia. Weekly discussions are led by members on a rotating basis, and topics are determined by group interests.

For information about joining the Central Asia Workshop, contact the organizers at caw@international.ucla.edu.

The workshop is open to graduate students, faculty, and researchers. RSVP is required.