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Cultural Anthropology

Truth, Fear, and Lies: Exile Politics and Arrested Histories of the Tibetan Resistance

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Abstract

Narratives of the Tibetan resistance army are not a part of national history in the Tibetan exile community. Drawing on stories by veterans of the resistance to the Chinese invasion and the explanations they give of its absence in Tibetan national history, I argue that this history has been “arrested” because of the challenges it poses to normative versions of history and community and, in turn, to internal and external representations of Tibet. This practice signifies the postponing of narrating certain histories until a time in the future when the dangers they pose to sustaining a unified Tibetan community in exile has receded. This practice of historical (un)production offers insight into temporality and subjectivity, plural identities in the face of national hegemony, and why history might be considered a combination of truth, fear, and lies.

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