Peripheral Alternatives: Media and Tibetan Nationalism in the Chinese Tibetosphere

Li, D. 2017. Peripheral Alternatives: Media and Tibetan Nationalism in the Chinese Tibetosphere. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster School of Media and Communication

TitlePeripheral Alternatives: Media and Tibetan Nationalism in the Chinese Tibetosphere
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsLi, D.

This thesis examines the media use in the spreading of Tibetan nationalism in the Chinese Tibetosphere, the struggling land of national politics situated between the two power centres of China and the exiled Tibet. For individual Tibetans on the ground, the small pieces and specific details in everyday life dominate their thoughts and reduce the national motions and political propagandas into the torrent of everyday ordinariness. Conducting the one-year ethnography on Tibetans’ everyday use of Chinese mainstream media (official media) and alternative media (traditional Tibetan communicative platforms, small media and social media) in Tibet Autonomous Region, the study sheds new light on Tibetan nationalism and everyday politics in Tibet, expanding our understanding of individual Tibetans’ positions in the current Sino-Tibetan conflicts. Observing Tibetans creatively and critically using both Chinese mainstream media and alternative media, this research reveals that there is no single force fostering Tibetanness (being Tibetan), nor are the ordinary people mere passive receivers of political gulfs and elite motivations; rather, they are moving between the two power centres on the basis of their own demands: they are restricted and influenced by both parties but not completely attached to any. The drifting, grafting and relocating of Tibetanness is interpreted within the broad context of socio-economic changes in this research. Meanwhile, given the rise of digital capitalism and the resonance between Tibetan nationalism and other active nationalisms in this more connective world, by highlighting cosmopolitan presence with Tibetan presence and Chinese presence in Tibetanness, this research develops Anderson’s Imagined Communities and defines Tibetan nationalism as part of ‘the fifth wave’ of nationalism in the dual system of the nation-states and world capitalism. Juxtaposing with the demand for ‘the right to the centre’ for Tibetans who are living on the edge of the Chinese state and the market economy, this thesis argues to mark the positions of both Tibet and China in the nation-state system and world capitalism, thus to understand Tibetan nationalism and the Sino-Tibetan conflicts in the world context and complex.

Publication dates
PublishedSep 2017

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