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The Social Death of a Family : Empire, Exile, and the Politics of Tibetan History

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The Social Death of a Family : Empire, Exile, and the Politics of Tibetan History
Dans le cadre du séminaire « Rituels » (équipe TBACT)

Le 24 mars à 10h, Carole McGranahan (Université du Colorado) donnera une conférence au Collège de France, salle 1 sur

The Social Death of a Family : Empire, Exile, and the Politics of Tibetan History

What does it mean to proclaim the social death of a family ? Even more, what are the politics of social death when (1) family members are still living, and (2) the family in question is a powerful one ? This lecture focuses on the rise and fall of the sPang mda’ tsang/Pangdatsang family in twentieth century Tibet. In the span of one generation, the Pangdatsang family rose from an important trading family in eastern Tibet to the wealthiest traders in all of Tibet. Shrewd traders, Sakya sponsors, Gelukpa monastery backers, Dalai Lama devotees, government officials, renegade politicians, local chieftains, Kuomindang sympathizers, and anti-colonial Anglophiles who had disputes with the Tibetan government, British colonial officials, and Chinese communists alike, the three Pangdatsang brothers should’ve left a deep mark on Tibetan history. Instead, their inconvenient histories have faded into obscurity for a range of reasons, some obvious, some not, such that people now say—“Pangdatsang ? That family is no more.” In this paper, I explore the social and historical death of the Pangdatsang family through a focus on Yamphel, the elder brother and Tibetan Government Trade Agent, whose spat with Gyalo Thondup (the powerful older brother of the Dalai Lama) in the 1960s proved deadly in social and political terms for the entire family. I draw on documentary and oral sources, and both historic and ethnographic methods, to reconsider the Pangdatsang family’s place in twentieth century Tibetan history and memory.

Dr. Carole McGranahan is Associate Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Colorado, USA. She is the author of the book Arrested Histories : Tibet, the CIA, and Histories of a Forgotten War (2010) about the grassroots Chushi Gangdrug army. Dr. McGranahan is co-editor of Imperial Formations (2007) which considers empire beyond Europe, a forthcoming volume on ethnographies of U.S. empire, and an in-progress Tibet Reader which brings together contemporary Tibetan writings in translation. She is currently finishing a book about the Pangdatsang family, Tibetan politics of history, and British empire, and is in the middle of a new research project on refugee citizenship in the Tibetan diaspora.