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Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit


Tuesday 31 May  

Robert Barnett

University of London & King’s College, London

Contradictory resettlement along the Tibetan borders: Yimin shibian and its legacies

Summary: Rulers of China have used demographic relocation as a policy tool for several centuries, sometimes for economic or social reasons and sometimes for military or defensive purposes, as in the case of the bingtuan. Currently, most relocation in China is associated, at least rhetorically, with poverty alleviation and involves moving people from "remote" areas to cities, towns or main roads. However, the most prominent version of relocation in Tibet today does exactly the opposite: it moves people to border areas, including places where human habitation is more or less unprecedented. There they enter into a "military-civilian partnership" not wholly unlike earlier forms of defensive relocation. This presentation discusses this latest form of demographic politics, currently the top policy priority in the region, and its wider implications.

Bio: Robert Barnett is a writer and researcher on modern Tibetan history, policies and culture. His books and edited volumes include Conflicting Memories, with Benno Weiner and Françoise Robin (2020); Forbidden Memories, with the Tibetan author Woeser (2020); Tibetan Modernities: Notes from the Field, with Ronald Schwartz (2008); and Lhasa: Streets with Memories (2006). Currently Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and an Affiliate Lecturer at King’s College, London, he was the founder-director of Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University in New York from 1999 to 2018. 

Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 - 16:30 to 18:00
Event location: 
Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF