Commoners and Nobles: Hereditary Divisions in Tibet

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by Heidi Fjeld

Written by one of the few scholars who has been able to conduct long-term fieldwork in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, this study explores how Tibetans manoeuvre within two contradictory value systems – values associated with traditional Tibet on the one side and socialist China on the other – balancing between ideals and pragmatism. It asks how and why the social categories of pre-communist Lhasa persist and are made relevant in daily life despite decades of Chinese rule and the comprehensive restructuring of Tibetan society. More specifically, particular attention is given to the former nobility of Lhasa and their ascribed role as custodians of Tibetan culture.

"This is a fascinating study. Heidi Fjeld has opened a window into contemporary Tibetan life and demonstrated how Chinese policies intended to dampen nationalism among the Tibetans have done just the opposite" - Tom Grunfeld.

Heidi Fjeld is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Oslo, and a Tibetan and Himalayan studies enthusiast.

Publication year: 2004
190 pp / 221mm x 142mm
9 figures
ISBN: 978-87-91114-17-5, Hardback

NIAS Press