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In the 1950s, thousands of ordinary Tibetans rose up to defend their country and religion against Chinese troops. Their citizen army fought through 1974 with covert support from the Tibetan exile government and the governments of India, Nepal, and the United States. Decades later, the story of this resistance is only beginning to be told and has not yet entered the annals In the 1950s, thousands of ordinary Tibetans rose up to defend their country and religion against Chinese troops. Their citizen army fought through 1974 with covert support from the Tibetan exile government and the governments of India, Nepal, and the United States. Decades later, the story of this resistance is only beginning to be told and has not yet entered the annals of Tibetan national history. In Arrested Histories, the anthropologist and historian Carole McGranahan shows how and why histories of this resistance army are “arrested” and explains the ensuing repercussions for the Tibetan refugee community.Drawing on rich ethnographic and historical research, McGranahan tells the story of the Tibetan resistance and the social processes through which this history is made and unmade, and lived and forgotten in the present. Fulfillment of veterans’ desire for recognition hinges on the Dalai Lama and “historical arrest,” a practice in which the telling of certain pasts is suspended until an undetermined time in the future. In this analysis, struggles over history emerge as a profound pain of belonging. Tibetan cultural politics, regional identities, and religious commitments cannot be disentangled from imperial histories, contemporary geopolitics, and romanticized representations of Tibet. Moving deftly from armed struggle to nonviolent hunger strikes, and from diplomatic offices to refugee camps, Arrested Histories provides powerful insights into the stakes of political engagement and the cultural contradictions of everyday life.


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In the 1950s, thousands of ordinary Tibetans rose up to defend their country and religion against Chinese troops. Their citizen army fought through 1974 with covert support from the Tibetan exile government and the governments of India, Nepal, and the United States. Decades later, the story of this resistance is only beginning to be told and has not yet entered the annals In the 1950s, thousands of ordinary Tibetans rose up to defend their country and religion against Chinese troops. Their citizen army fought through 1974 with covert support from the Tibetan exile government and the governments of India, Nepal, and the United States. Decades later, the story of this resistance is only beginning to be told and has not yet entered the annals of Tibetan national history. In Arrested Histories, the anthropologist and historian Carole McGranahan shows how and why histories of this resistance army are “arrested” and explains the ensuing repercussions for the Tibetan refugee community.Drawing on rich ethnographic and historical research, McGranahan tells the story of the Tibetan resistance and the social processes through which this history is made and unmade, and lived and forgotten in the present. Fulfillment of veterans’ desire for recognition hinges on the Dalai Lama and “historical arrest,” a practice in which the telling of certain pasts is suspended until an undetermined time in the future. In this analysis, struggles over history emerge as a profound pain of belonging. Tibetan cultural politics, regional identities, and religious commitments cannot be disentangled from imperial histories, contemporary geopolitics, and romanticized representations of Tibet. Moving deftly from armed struggle to nonviolent hunger strikes, and from diplomatic offices to refugee camps, Arrested Histories provides powerful insights into the stakes of political engagement and the cultural contradictions of everyday life.

30 review for Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Paylor

    Eye-opening and a fresh perspective on life in the Tibetan exile community.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Two theocracies are fighting over a huge land inhabited by some people still living the Middle Ages. The people's suffering is gold to people like Carole McGranahan, they can even build a career out of this. And the information? Who cares? For Carole McGranahan what's clear is that's not clear what Tibet is or how the names are transliterated. So there you have it reader: more doubt before you go. The essence of this book, as found on page 63: > Differences are sometimes made to appear as dissent Two theocracies are fighting over a huge land inhabited by some people still living the Middle Ages. The people's suffering is gold to people like Carole McGranahan, they can even build a career out of this. And the information? Who cares? For Carole McGranahan what's clear is that's not clear what Tibet is or how the names are transliterated. So there you have it reader: more doubt before you go. The essence of this book, as found on page 63: > Differences are sometimes made to appear as dissent. Is she talking about China? Is she talking about the Westerners? When is sometimes? How often is sometimes? Who or what makes them appear as dissent? But are they really dissent? A text suffering so much from the ignorance multiplied by the author's ambition to seem she knows what she is talking about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marc Menz

    Learned a lot about the Tibetan resistance to Chinese aggression - and a lot of it was quite surprising. My limited knowledge was about the peaceful resistance of the Dalai Lama for the past 30 years. I had no idea the CIA was involved in training paratroopers, nor that a 15 year guerrilla war was at play. Sad state of affairs, and a challenging and emotional read at times - particularly with what is going on now with the Uyghers. Seems like history repeating itself, but this time so much more r Learned a lot about the Tibetan resistance to Chinese aggression - and a lot of it was quite surprising. My limited knowledge was about the peaceful resistance of the Dalai Lama for the past 30 years. I had no idea the CIA was involved in training paratroopers, nor that a 15 year guerrilla war was at play. Sad state of affairs, and a challenging and emotional read at times - particularly with what is going on now with the Uyghers. Seems like history repeating itself, but this time so much more repressive with China being much more powerful. The book itself can be quite dry at times, however it's well written and researched, with some detailed accounts of actual struggle by Tibetan war veterans and refugees. As the author notes, these are mostly memories that are both trying to be repented, yet don't want to be entirely forgotten. It's a strange and beguiling history, surely one of the most unique cultural stories the world over. It's a shame that Tibetan culture and history doesn't get the attention it deserves.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Can't recall the last time I read through a 200+ page academic title in two days. I guess I did have the free time - but the book is simply written well. It doesn't give a clear structure at the beginning, but does something better - it keeps you page turning. By the end the arguments are driven home. Chapter 9 is especially enlightening about violence vs non-violence in the Tibetan exile community and the strains that nonviolence have placed on its resistance veterans and their struggle. Can't recall the last time I read through a 200+ page academic title in two days. I guess I did have the free time - but the book is simply written well. It doesn't give a clear structure at the beginning, but does something better - it keeps you page turning. By the end the arguments are driven home. Chapter 9 is especially enlightening about violence vs non-violence in the Tibetan exile community and the strains that nonviolence have placed on its resistance veterans and their struggle.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    another step into the real Tibet In the now greater literature about the realities of Tibetan history this book is a good contribution for the truth and realities of a humanized Tibet. Although too technical at certain moments it is an honest effort to free the narrative about unknown heroes, sacrifices, painful losses and small gains of resisting the powerful forces of Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, and the subsequent obscure life in refugee camps in India, Nepal, and some countries i another step into the real Tibet In the now greater literature about the realities of Tibetan history this book is a good contribution for the truth and realities of a humanized Tibet. Although too technical at certain moments it is an honest effort to free the narrative about unknown heroes, sacrifices, painful losses and small gains of resisting the powerful forces of Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, and the subsequent obscure life in refugee camps in India, Nepal, and some countries in the West. It is a painful but real story that needs to be known both by survivors and their families, and by all that feel for their plight. It adds reality to the myth of Sangrila and frees real stories to enter local and world history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Shapiro

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alec Balstad

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tenzin Tsagong

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen (NerdifiedJen)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tsering Samdrup

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emma Simpleman

  13. 5 out of 5

    Yungdung Samten

  14. 4 out of 5

    Les

  15. 5 out of 5

    GZwick

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ghalib

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marnie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Noryang

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Weis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julia Fink

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Saggau

  23. 5 out of 5

    tenzin

  24. 4 out of 5

    William Southwell-Wright

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tenzin Deckyi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anshuman Swain

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alina Odom

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emi

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Cook

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