As global phenomena, diasporas offer a unique and intriguing lens through which identity can be understood. Cultural identity is not a definable concept; identities may shift in relative importance over time as political agents prioritize one element over others to serve different political means. This study attempts to understand the formation and negotiation of cultural identity within the Tibetan diaspora. Since the Chinese invasion in 1959, a regular stream of Tibetan people have fled Tibet into neighboring countries such as India, Nepal and Bhutan. Through the Tibetan US Resettlement Project, 1,000 Tibetans were granted visas and invited to immigrate to the United States in the early 1990s. Since then, the population of Tibetan immigrants in exile has grown exponentially. In the diaspora, the creation of community cultural centers has been invaluable to the preservation of Tibetan cultural identity. Using data collected at the Tibetan American Foundation of America in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the original placement sites for newly arrived immigrants, and a combination of two anthropological and political theoretical models, this study critically assesses the success of the Foundation in helping immigrants negotiate a new identity within the United States.


Kardulias, P. Nicholas


Sociology and Anthropology


Social and Cultural Anthropology


identity, diaspora, Tibet, United States, culture, negotiation, preservation

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Martha R. Oster-Beal