No peace of mind : The Tibetan diaspora in India

Abstract: The study deals with senses of collective and individual belonging among Tibetans, in relation to 'home', 'homeland' and 'diaspora'; it discusses how conflicting ways of constructing notions of collective identity makes it relevant to see the Tibetan diaspora as a Geography of conflict. The point of departure is that the diaspora is affected by many internal conflicts. The diaspora situation per se creates conflicts, just because an internal unity is supposed, or imagined, both within the group and from surrounding communities. Groups and individuals who do not recognise themselves in this unity, for various reasons, creates (or are accused of creating) conflicts within the diaspora. Many of the conflicts are connected with Tibetan diaspora politics. Another conflict regards the means of liberation struggle (armed versus non-violence) in the fight against the Chinese for a free Tibet. Schooling is another sensitive issue, as it highlights questions of the future: Should it prepare for a life in India, or in Tibet in the future? Personal experiences of the homeland and of life in the diaspora seem to be an important component behind the individual notion of what it means to be Tibetan. The 'homeland' is a notion rather than a territory, an arena of myths, visions, memories and dreams, which will never answer to the expectations of a geographical 'homeland'. The author suggests that it is possible to see the diaspora as a permanent conflict per se. Individuals may come to peace with their lives in the diaspora, but as members of a collective 'the legacy of suffering', and a growing alienation between Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, are obstacles to attaining 'peace of mind'. The Chinese/Tibetan conflict lives in the diaspora in the form of conflicting ways of identifying, and through the obligation to suffer, but also in the sense of living a life apart from each other ('dispersed' in its true sense), something that the infrastructure of India does not allow anyone to forget. In this perspective the diaspora implies a continuation of the Chinese-Tibetan conflict, to live in the diaspora is to live the conflict.

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