Yale Himalaya Initiative

environment | livelihood | culture

The Mirage Effect of Tibetan Landscape: Geopolitics, Imagination and Post-Orientalism

Event time: 
Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Luce 202 See map
34 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Dan Smyer Yu

Professor and Founding Director

Trans-Himalayan Studies, Yunnan Minzu University, China

Tibet has a frequent appearance in global discourses of humanitarian issues, climate changes, environmental conservation, peace building, creative arts, and New Age Spirituality in the twenty-first century. This talk, based on one of the themes in the author’s book, is intended to critique how the power-representation discourse adopted from Edward Said’s Orientalism is utilized in the context of modern Tibetan studies. Through case studies of perceptions of Tibet in China and the West, it proposes a post-Orientalist perspective from which the unique landscape of Tibet is understood as the foundation for a type of topophilia, which antecedently triggers what scholars characterize as “imagination,” “fantasy,” or “hallucination.”

Dan Smyer Yu is Professor and Founding Director of Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies at Yunnan Minzu University, a core member of the Transregional Research Network (CETREN) at University of Göttingen, and a Research Group Leader at Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity (on leave 2014-15).  He received his doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Davis in 2006, specializing in trans-regional studies of ethnic relations, religious revitalizations, Sino-Tibetan Buddhist interactions, and globalization. His recent publications include The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (monograph, Routledge 2011) and Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (monograph, De Gruyter 2015). His current research directions are trans boundary governance of natural and human heritages, water and religious diversity, religion and peace building, comparative studies of secularism in the greater Himalayan region. He is also a documentary filmmaker. His widely screened films include Embrace (50 min. Tibetan mountain culture and ecology 2011) and Rainbow Rider (55 min. Tibetan Buddhism in China 2013).

Pictures from the event: click here