It is clear that the recent wave of self-immolations and protests taking place in southern Amdo and northern Kham in eastern Tibet is a reflection of an extreme form of defiance in response to an increasingly repressive atmosphere. The atmosphere is epitomized by the intensification of patriotic education campaigns in monasteries and is framed within a broader political context of discriminatory rule by authorities who generally see only variants of assimilation as the solution to the so-called ‘Tibet Question.’ However, it is less clear why this particular form of protest – self-immolation – is happening in this particular part of Tibet. The explanation is probably not found in differences of governance styles across this eastern Tibetan region, which has been fragmented, absorbed and ruled by the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and the Tibet Autonomous Region. Additionally, there are large Tibetan areas in these provinces, under similar conditions of rule, where self-immolations have not taken place. Rather, local histories in these Tibetan areas need to be carefully considered, especially with respect to the evolving fusion between religious faith, political dissidence, and rapid dislocating social change.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Tibet, political economy
Persistent URL
Series ISS Staff Group 4: Rural Development, Environment and Population
Journal Cultural Anthropology
Fischer, A.M. (2012). The geopolitics of politico-religious protest in Eastern Tibet. Cultural Anthropology, (Hot Spot Forum online 4), 1–6. Retrieved from