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Among the conflicts to break out during the Cultural Revolution in Tibet, the most famous took place in the summer of 1969 in Nyemo, a county to the south and west of Lhasa. In this incident, hundreds of villagers formed a mob led by a young nun who was said to be possessed by a deity associated with the famous warrior-king Gesar. In their rampage the mob attacked, mutilated, and killed county officials and local villagers as well as People's Liberation Army troops. This groundbreaking book, the first on the Cultural Revolution in Tibet, revisits the Nyemo Incident, which has long been romanticized as the epitome of Tibetan nationalist resistance against China. Melvyn C. Goldstein, Ben Jiao, and Tanzen Lhundrup demonstrate that far from being a spontaneous battle for independence, this violent event was actually part of a struggle between rival revolutionary groups and was not ethnically based. On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet proffers a sober assessment of human malleability and challenges the tendency to view every sign of unrest in Tibet in ethno-nationalist terms.
List of Illustrations
Explanation of Romanization, Brackets, and Abbreviations
1. The Cultural Revolution in Tibet
2. Gyenlo and Nyamdre in Nyemo County
3. Gyenlo on the Attack
4. Destroying the Demons and Ghosts
5. The Attacks on Bagor District and Nyemo County
6. The Capture of the Nun
Appendix 1. The Nun's Manifesto
Appendix 2. Leaflet Publishing the Text of a Speech Criticizing the Regional Party Committee
Appendix 3. The Truth about the Struggle to Seize the Power of the Tibet Daily Newspaper Office
Melvyn C. Goldstein is John Reynolds Harkness Professor of Anthropology and the Co-Director of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case Western Reserve University. Ben Jiao is Deputy Director of the Contemporary Tibetan Research Institute at the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, Lhasa. Tanzen Lhundrup is Deputy Director of the Social and Economic Institute at the Beijing Tibetology Center, Beijing.
"A heart-pounding narrative interspersed with the cool, distant voice of analysis. From the first page, the reader is graphically immersed in the chaotic world of the Cultural Revolution."—Buddhadharma
“A vital contribution has been rendered to the literature on both modern Tibet and the Cultural Revolution.”—Journal Of Asian Stds (Jas) / Se Asia & Western Pacific
“Highly commendable for offering insight into this period.”—Journal Of American History
"This brave manuscript is the first in any language to look at the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. The material is refreshingly new, coming from the authors' extensive interviews and oral histories collected in recent years. This is extremely valuable, as Tibet is not always accessible to western writers. It is indeed remarkable that the authors have been able to solicit views from both sides of the factional struggle, so that we have now a clear contour of the tragic 1969 Nyemo Incident. This contribution cannot be overstated."—Uradyn E. Bulag, author of The Mongolia-Tibet Interface: Opening New Research Terrains in Inner Asia
"This is an important, accessible, and riveting description of a controversial and significant episode in modern Tibet history that scholars have not previously been able to access."—Robbie Barnett, Columbia University