Display Cabinet of the Exile : A Discourse Analysis of the Tibet Museum in Dharamshala


ŠPIRK Martin

Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description While in exile, the Tibetan elites have been trying to shape their new identity for decades. These identities are often constructed and expressed through various discourses that include, but are not limited to, motives such as nonviolence, emphasis on human rights, territorial and state independence, or the preservation of a unique culture and religious tradition. The paper analyses specific expressions of these identities and political rhetorics that the CTA (Central Tibetan Administration) puts at work through visual and textual materials. These are exhibited in the Tibet Museum located near the main temple of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. This institution's self-presentation and agenda are based on themes such as oppression and violence, sacrifice and self-immolation, long-awaited independence, and a rich Tibetan history and religious traditions, mostly linked to the Dalai Lama. The paper demonstrates that this self-presentation seeks to create a suitable instrument and strategy for survival on the battlefield between two dueling political rhetorics: Chinese and exiled Tibetan propaganda. The paper explores key topics, complexity, contradictions, and blind spots of interpretative repertoires through discourse analysis. In short, it shows the power/knowledge relations within the mentioned institution that works with visual display. As sources for this pilot study, materials from field research in Himachal Pradesh (2017, 2019) and other collected materials, including over 28 exhibitions and other audiovisual materials, exhibited in the Tibet Museum since its inauguration in 2000, are used.
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