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Population and Society in Contemporary Tibet

Rong Ma

Publication Year: 2010

This extensive survey documents Tibetan society over five decades, including population structure in rural and urban areas, marriage and migration patterns, the maintenance of language and traditional culture, economic transitions relating to income and consumption habits, educational development, and the growth of civil society and social organizations. In addition to household surveys completed over twenty years, the book provides a systematic analysis of all available social and census data released by the Chinese government, and a thorough review of Western and Chinese literature on the topic. It is the first book on Tibetan society published in English by a mainland China scholar, and covers several sensitive issues in Tibetan studies, including population changes, Han migration into Tibetan areas, intermarriage patterns, and ethnic relations.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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List of Tables

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pp. vii-xi

List of Figures

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

As China began to open its doors to the West in the early 1980s, the United States and China began a formal bilateral program of academic and educational exchange. Professor Rong Ma and I were among the early beneficiaries of this new opportunity. I was able to start anthropological field research in Tibet (the Tibet Autonomous Region of China) and Rong Ma was able to begin M.A. and Ph.D. ...

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pp. xvii-xviii

As a child I dreamed of visiting Tibet, a mysterious land with a unique landscape, culture, and religion. Only when I started teaching at Peking University in 1987 did that dream become a reality. I was involved in a cooperative research project supported by the Institute of Sociology and Anthropology at Peking University and the China Tibetology Research Center. Therefore, I particularly thank two founders ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Tibet has become a symbol of heaven on Earth in the Western imagination, the Shangri-La in clouds at the top of the Himalayas. Steeped in the mysterious religion of Tibetan Buddhism, it is a land of peace, harmony and compassion with no concern for money or material things. This is the image of Tibet in the West (Klieger, 2006: 215), where industrialization and modernization have led to political stability, ...

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2. The Geographic Distribution and Changes in the Tibetan Population of China

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pp. 17-39

For a long time the size of the Tibetan population has been a mystery because of limited data sources and the unreliability of records. I’ve tried to put together information gleaned from data on the Tibetan population throughout history published in books and articles at different times. This chapter is a review of the relevant literature, especially literature in Chinese before the 1950s ...

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3. The Han Population in the Tibetan-inhabited Areas

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pp. 41-70

There are many unresolved issues surrounding the question of the Han population in the Tibetan areas. How many Han people were there in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China in the past and how many are there today? When did they move there? What role has the government played in these migrations? What has been their impact on the local social, economic and cultural changes in Tibet? Conflicting ...

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4. Analysis of the Population Structure in the Tibetan Autonomous Region

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pp. 71-96

The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is unique among regions in the TIA when it comes to population analysis because of the availability of accurate data. Similar data for other Tibetan-inhabited areas are not recorded separately from province-wide data, or are provided only for administrative units, making analysis for these The TAR is situated in southwestern China and covers an area of 1.2 million ...

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5. Migration in the Tibetan Autonomous Region

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pp. 97-135

Migration is a major research field in population studies. When people change their residence from one place to another, their movements may be aimed at crossing a certain geographic boundary (e.g. from a mountain to a plain), crossing an economic boundary (e.g. from an agricultural area to a pasture), crossing an administrative boundary (e.g. from one province or nation to another), or changing their residence ...

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6. Economic Patterns and Transitions in the Tibetan Autonomous Region

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pp. 137-189

In the past several decades, studies about Tibet have attracted substantial attention. In general, they have concentrated primarily on history, religion and traditional culture, as well as on Han settlement, ethnic relations and human rights (Pye, 1975; Dreyer, 1976; Grunfeld, 1987; Goldstein, 1989a). Tibet’s economic situation has received only limited attention, however (Fischer, 2005; Sautman and Dreyer ...

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7. Income and Consumption of Rural and Urban Residents in the Tibetan Autonomous Region

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pp. 191-240

Income and consumption are among the most important indicators of people’s economic lives. Four points are usually taken into account in the study of income and consumption. First, they should be studied together because the level of income affects — even determines — the patterns of consumption. Second, they need to be examined at both the micro and macro levels. Individual and family income ...

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8. Tibetan Spouse Selection and Marriage

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pp. 241-272

Family is the basic unit of human society and families are formed through a variety of marriage patterns. By studying marriage patterns and family formation we can discern the fundamental models and networks of human organization as well as social stratification and mobility within a society. The norms and values of societies and communities also can be determined in an indirect way through examining ...

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9. Educational Development in the Tibet Autonomous Region

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pp. 273-326

Development of all human societies has been closely related to the development of knowledge, including what we nowadays classify as the humanities, social sciences, sciences and technology. Knowledge is conveyed to the populace and passed on to future generations through various forms of education. Accordingly, education is a key indicator of the social development of any society. But education is also a ...

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10. Residential Patterns and Social Contacts between Han and Tibetan Residents in Urban Lhasa

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pp. 327-356

One of the key goals of our surveys in the TAR and other Tibetan areas since 1988 has been to evaluate the current state of Han-Tibetan relations and to analyze the factors influencing that relationship. Since the first street demonstration in Lhasa in 1987, Han-Tibetan relations have been of considerable concern in China. Since then, official Chinese documents and reports have tended to emphasize the financial ...


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pp. 357-367


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pp. 369-384

Glossary of Terms

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pp. 385-386


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pp. 387-390

E-ISBN-13: 9789888053766
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622092020

Page Count: 408
Illustrations: 23 b/w illus
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 743276067
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Population and Society in Contemporary Tibet

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Subject Headings

  • Tibet Autonomous Region (China) -- Population.
  • Tibet Autonomous Region (China) -- Social conditions.
  • Tibet Autonomous Region (China) -- Economic conditions.
  • Migration, Internal -- China -- Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Marriage -- China -- Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Education -- China -- Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Human geography -- China -- Tibet Autonomous Region.
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