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ERIC Number: EJ878396
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 24
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1085-4568
We Could Be Heroes: Mythico-History, Diasporic Nationalism, and Youth Identity among Tibetan Refugees in Nepal
Balakian, Sophia
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v16 p123-146 Spr 2008
In her book on the national cosmology of Hutu refugees in Tanzania, "Purity and Exile," Liisa Malkki argues that in the modern age of nation-states, culture and identity are conceived in fundamentally territorial terms. Thus, being "out of place" disrupts and threatens national identity which attempts to appear pure, whole and natural. The "[v]iolated, broken roots" of displacement "signal an ailing cultural identity and a damaged national identity". This theory of diaspora, of communities outside of their "original" place, the place they call their homeland, is the fundamental basis upon which this study rests. This paper examines the way one diasporic community negotiates the local boundaries of its host country and community, and constructs and expresses a national identity and national cause outside of the territory that defines it. Like the refugees of mass violence in Malkki's study, the community presented here, Tibetan refugees in Nepal, also defines itself in light of a specific history of violence and subjugation. The force of the violence experienced by individuals, and collectively experienced by members of the community produced profound trauma and a particular way of constructing their identity as a group whose cultural and physical survival is at risk, threatened from the outside. The purpose of this paper is to examine the local conditions of Tibetan refugee life in Nepal, and discover how this community constructs its identity as Tibetan. The author's research finds that they seek resources outside of their host nation, from an international network of Western supporters, and eventually define themselves globally. However, the certainty of belonging for exiled Tibetans is ultimately challenged. While the Tibetans embraced the Western aid workers and sponsors as "second parents," ultimately, intermarriage with westerners, for example, was feared and seen as challenging the natural order of national identity. (Contains a bibliography.)
Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China; Nepal; Tanzania