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Wesleyan University

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Tibet/Bhutan: Tibetan and Himalayan Studies


Achieving peaceful dialogue between Chinese and Tibetans is the crux of the Tibetan community in exile’s strategy to regain its homeland. Yet despite the recognized importance of cross-cultural communication the Tibetans, ideologically unwilling to separate “China the Oppressor” from “China the Neighbor” or even, potentially, “China the Co-Collaborator,” have largely avoided studying their adversary. Although increased literacy in Chinese language, knowledge of Chinese history and understanding of Chinese culture would enable the Tibetans to engage with China more effectively and productively, few initiatives exist in exile that facilitate the spread of such information. Receiving only a basic overview of Chinese history and culture under the education system in exile, those individuals seeking to learn more must often look past formal education and embrace less-conventional learning tools such as discussion groups, extracurricular language acquisition, and the arts.

In addition to analyzing how China has been characterized, perceived, and approached in exile, both formally and extramurally, this paper contains a practical exploration of the extent to which artistic expression, specifically film, can serve as a valuable tool for disseminating information about China and encouraging Sino-Tibetan friendship. Using prominent Chinese films as a platform for discussion among young, intellectual Tibetans, I investigated the Tibetan conceptualization of China in exile. After analyzing the product of these discussions, I contend that film serves as an extremely effective and largely underutilized means of educating Tibetans about China. It would be in the Tibetan community’s best interest to take advantage of the opportunities this method provides and continue to employ the arts as an educational tool.


Film and Media Studies | International and Intercultural Communication | Peace and Conflict Studies


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