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HomeEuropean NewsAndré Lacroix: I.T.A.S. and the state of Tibetology

André Lacroix: I.T.A.S. and the state of Tibetology


Mr Lacroix is a retired School Professor, and creator of Dharamsalades.

He additionally realised the interpretation of The Battle for Fashionable Tibet by Tashi Tsering, William Siebenschuh and Melvyn Goldstein.

A global Tibetology convention organised by the I.A.T.S. will quickly be held in Prague.
Are you acquainted with the Worldwide Affiliation for Tibetan Research?

To be trustworthy, earlier than you advised me about it,
I did not know the Worldwide Affiliation for Tibetan Research, I.A.T.S. in English.
I knowledgeable myself this morning on the query and I seen that it was an affiliation which had been based in Oxford in 1979, and I say 1979 is unusual, it’s exactly the 12 months when Deng Xiaoping, wanting to place the Tibetan downside behind him, had organized high-level conferences between representatives of Dharamsala, subsequently representatives of the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Individuals’s Republic of China. These negotiations lastly failed due to the Tibetan negotiators’ calls for. They wished to create, it was not a request, it was a declare, to create a larger Tibet which might have reduce off China from 1 / 4 of its territory, which clearly was an inadmissible declare for the Chinese language representatives.
I additionally observe {that a} following assembly of this affiliation was held in Narita, Japan in 1989, that’s to say the exact 12 months throughout which the Dalai Lama acquired the Nobel Peace Prize. There are weird coincidences, and I additionally found that it was at this assembly in Japan that the affiliation wrote its statutes, and amongst these statutes is the truth that the members co-opt one another, which makes me apprehend that the work now held in Prague by this affiliation isn’t imbued with essentially the most full objectivity. I am afraid it is roughly tainted by anti-Chinese language emotions.

In your opinion, what is sweet Tibetology?
Whom do you take into account as a mannequin Tibetologist?

Ideally, Tibetology ought to after all embody historical past, the research of texts, the research of the philosophy, myths, legends, faith, religions. As a result of it’s typically believed that there’s solely Buddhism in Tibet, whereas there, the pre-existing faith was the Bön faith, of which there are nonetheless apparent traces immediately. So, all from a perspective that doesn’t masks the geopolitical dimension, as a result of it’s sure that for the reason that finish, the autumn of the Manchu empire, Tibet as been on the crossroads of all of the imperialist makes an attempt of the West, the Russians, the British and so forth, it has at all times been a part of the Chinese language empire which is at the moment denied by the individuals of the Worldwide Marketing campaign for Tibet. However it’s a historic actuality.
By benefiting from the intense difficulties of the younger Chinese language Republic from 1911, which was a sufferer of the warlords after which from the wrestle between communists and nationalists, the Japanese invasion and so forth, China couldn’t preserve its management over this distant Tibetan province. The British took benefit of this to make it a type of protectorate which was unilaterally declared by the thirteenth Dalai Lama as an unbiased Tibet, nevertheless it’s an independence that has not been acknowledged by anybody. So when Mao got here to energy, he merely recovered this province which for a time had escaped management due to the numerous difficulties of the younger Chinese language Republic. However, for me, a real Tibetologist, the paragon of Tibetology is Melvyn Goldstein who actually is a grasp who fluently speaks Tibetan, who has been to Tibet dozens of occasions and travelled it in all instructions, he’s a really rigorous historian who clearly is aware of Tibetan who is aware of the historical past and has revealed research that are actually authoritative on the query. So all of the little monographs are good to take, which reinforce and nuance, however I discover that the necessities on Tibet have been stated. In any case, he wrote a masterful guide that we are able to by no means do with out.


The Covid epidemic has disrupted worldwide research and exchanges, do you assume that this epidemic has influenced Tibetan research?

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It’s sure that the impossibility of travelling there actually didn’t contribute to a greater data of the state of affairs on the spot. Alternatively, insofar as many of those Tibetologists are students who research texts and so forth, who talk with one another by videoconference, and so forth, I do not know if it influenced the research a lot, I do not know, however, after all it is at all times higher to go and see what is going on on. As a Tibetan proverb says: higher to seeing as soon as than to listen to 100 occasions, and that is very true, whenever you go there, you might have one other, a very completely different understanding than whenever you simply learn.

What do you consider the brand new era of Tibetologist, is there a optimistic change of their mentality?

Sadly no, in comparison with the good Tibetologists to whom I refer, I’m pondering of individuals like Melvyn Goldstein who most likely is the best Tibetologist on the earth, who fluently speaks Tibetan, who roamed Tibet in all instructions and who has a real Geopolitical imaginative and prescient, who has an infinite historic dimension. He’s a gentleman who’s, I imagine, about my age, that’s to say, he’s an aged man, I’m pondering of Tom Grunfeld and so forth. I am unable to consider anybody exactly, perhaps I am not informing myself nicely sufficient, however I don’t see numerous adjustments.
Possibly Barry Sautman who’s youthful however in any case I discover that, it is usually one thing that struck me, it’s that Tibetology, good Tibetology it should be acknowledged, is sadly fairly often Anglo-Saxon. French Tibetology, for instance, is sort of lamentable. INALCO, the Nationwide Institute of Oriental Language and Tradition in Paris, I might say, is a nest, with a number of exceptions, of people that don’t even disguise the truth that they’re towards Communist China and whose research are tainted by this anti-Chinese language sentiment. It is fairly lamentable. I might point out the names of Françoise Robin, Katia Buffetrille, Anne-Marie Blondeau and so forth. These are usually not fairly dependable personalities.

What do you consider the numerous students of Tibetan who’ve by no means been there? Is it attainable for these individuals to specific an actual goal opinion?

For my part, it should be very tough. I am not saying it is inconceivable, however it could take somebody who’s extraordinarily curious, who actually needs to be told with out prejudice and who’s a polyglot, who handles Chinese language, Tibetan, English, French, German and so forth. So perhaps, however does this type of character exist? I have no idea. In any case, it is positive that whenever you set foot someplace, you instantly have one other imaginative and prescient than what you merely discover in books. Myself, once I for first time went to Tibet, I believed, primarily based on the Lonely Planet, a comparatively dependable journey information, this information was speaking about cultural genocide. Then, eyes like saucers once I first set foot there and I noticed the omnipresence of monks and so forth. I requested myself, however what is that this journey information speaking about? And it was from that second that I began to check, specifically Melvyn Goldstein, who has actually completed masterful works on the historical past of Tibet from the origins to the current day, with this fairly outstanding side on historical past and geopolitics.

Internationally, the overwhelming majority of consultants on Tibet have lengthy believed that the Chinese language authorities has an unfair coverage towards ethnic minorities.
Having visited Tibet a number of occasions, what do you assume?

Sadly, consultants, typically those who’re known as to our media, are consultants who’re steeped within the Atlantic local weather, which implies that China stays the primary menace, and I imagine every part may be defined by the truth that the US are slowly loosing their hegemony, they can not settle for it, they subsequently want an enemy to attempt to saving their management. They realise nicely as they don’t seem to be silly that this management is shifting in direction of China, they do every part to gradual it down. How ought to I put it? It’s a bipartisan wrestle the place Democrats are as hostile in direction of China as Republicans.


Do you assume the convention in Prague will deliver some optimistic and apolitical outcomes for the sphere of Tibetology?

I attempted to seek out out what matters had been going to be coated however could not discover them on the web. I solely discovered the convention timetable and which convention rooms et cetera, however I do not know who’s invited to talk.
I do not know what matters might be coated, there’ll certainly be some very attention-grabbing matters throughout this convention, however I can not inform.
I am nonetheless cautious normally of the atmosphere, which is more likely to be fairly anti-Chinese language.

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