The Chinese army invaded the nation of Tibet in 1959, under the pretext of liberating a backwards people from their masters. They began an efficient genocide of Tibetan people and their culture that continues to the present day. The persecuted Tibetans fled to neighboring countries, and eventually the rest of the world, seeking to escape the harsh regime that had been imposed on them. There are now an estimated 150,000 exiled Tibetans around the world, each acutely aware of the decline of their culture in its home. (SaveTibet.org). The pressure Tibetan refugees feel to preserve their culture and fight for the independence of their people back home is incredible. This unnatural pressure is placed on top of the ordinary struggles all migrants face in finding an identity in a new home. The ultimate response of US Tibetan refugees to this burden has been a split into a mainstream Tibetan culture, essentialized to a simple message designed to engender Western support, and a hidden back stage world of Tibetan culture in which the difficulties and complexities of exiled life are truly faced.


Fisher, Lisa


Sociology and Anthropology


Social and Cultural Anthropology


Tibetan refugees, Strategic Essentialism

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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