History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles Versus The People’s Republic of China

Despite Chinese efforts to stop foreign countries from granting him visas, the Dalai Lama has become one of the most recognizable and best loved people on the planet, drawing enormous crowds wherever he goes. By contrast, China’s charismatically-challenged leaders attract crowds of protestors waving Tibetan flags and shouting "Free Tibet!" whenever they visit foreign countries. By now most Westerners probably think they understand the political situation in Tibet. But, John Powers argues, most Western scholars of Tibet evince a bias in favor of one side or the other in this continuing struggle. Some of the most emotionally charged rhetoric, says Powers, is found in studies of Tibetan history narratives. (Amazon)
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The essence of perpetual conflict

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 06/30/2018

History as Propaganda is a well written and usable story of the on-going nature of conflict in Tibet. BY dissecting the dueling narratives, the author begins to unravel the history of conflict in Tibet but also the essence of conflict anywhere. He also reminds us of the potency of struggle as a weapon
There was much I was unfamiliar with in this book from the importance over time of relationships with the Mongols, the cooperation and collaboration of Tibet with various Dynasties, and finally the relentless spewing of narratives on both sides that will not cease even if self-interest is sacrificed.
several ideas for lesson plans sprung to mind as I was reading. ONe is the metaphor of the 5 fingers of the hand which the Chinese government uses to illustrate the importance of each sub-group. This would be an easy and effective way to teach the idea of shared vs. separate histories and could be applied anywhere in the world.
Another idea has to do with the nature of conflict itself. Tibet as presented in this book, is an excellent starting point to understanding conflict all over the world. The use of language, stories, people and events told within separate frameworks can help illuminate struggle in Israel, Ireland, Bosnia, Yemen, and our own government.

Informative look at arguments about 'the Tibet Question'

Field of Interest/Specialty: World History
Posted On: 06/04/2018

History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles vs the People’s Republic of China by John Powers is an interesting look into the different perspectives that the Tibetan and Chinese people and governments have towards  'the Tibet Question.' Though both sides have diametrically opposed positions regarding the Sino-Tibetan relationship, they both use history as a tool to fuel and legitimize their claims. The book provides a novice-friendly and readable account of the history of the region and gives equal time to all sides. It also delves into the historiography of the Tibet Question for Tibetan, Chinese, and Western authors. Links can also be drawn from the struggle over Tibet to modern Chinese claims in other regions, such as the South China Sea. Powers clearly explains that in the Chinese mind, any land that was once under the control of the Middle Kingdom [or its tribute states] is thought to be eternally theirs. 
As Powers says, the sources he interprets "reveal a great deal about how Tibetans and Chinese view themselves and their countries, and how their divergent versions of history help to form their respective national narratives.”This book is a great look into how history differentiates from the past, and how the past can be used to inform the present. It is also useful for understanding how the Chinese have viewed themselves throughout history and how their history informs their present day decision making.