The Modern Fate of the Historical Buddhist Kingdom of Muli
Preliminary Notes on a Study of Muli Traditions and Modernities
Monday October 18th
Woodburn Hall 116
The historical Buddhist kingdom of Muli covers a frontier region within China’s present-day Sichuan province, right on the border with Yunnan province. A crossroads of diverse ethnicities, cultures and languages, it is a place in which Tibetan culture has played a particularly important role in the formation of traditional identity. Since the 1930s, the Muli region has received little attention from either Tibetologists or Sinologists. As a result, little is known of Muli’s traditional political, social and territorial organisation, or the evolution of its cultural traditions; even less is known about its modern history, culture and literature. Lara Maconi has been pursuing a long-term project aimed at filling this gap, raising a variety of questions relating to Muli’s history, politics, culture and literature; and focusing on notions of agency, representation and memory. Her objective is to trace a cultural history of Muli focusing first on the Maoist and post-Maoist periods. In her talk she will pose the question “How is Muli Tibetan today?” In answering it she will present some preliminary materials, reflections and results of her research and fieldwork in the region in 2008 and 2009, based on relevant primary sources (mainly in Chinese, somewhat fewer in Tibetan) and on interviews with local political-cum-cultural actors.
Lara MACONI is a post-doctoral fellow (2009-2010) and lecturer at the INALCO Institute of African and Oriental Studies in Paris, where she has been teaching Tibetan classical grammar, the history of Tibetan literature, and literary theory. Her research focuses on contemporary Tibetan literature, especially works written in Chinese. Her recent and forthcoming works include “Au-delà du débat linguistique : comment définir la littérature tibétaine d’expression chinoise ? Autour des ‘spécificités nationales’ et des ‘spécificités régionales’ ” in Revue d’Études Tibétaines (2008); and Note dal Tibet (forthcoming), the Italian translation of Woeser’s famous Xizang biji西藏笔记 (2003).
Sponsored by the Department of Central Eurasian Studies with generous support and co-sponsorship from Indiana University’s Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center and East Asian Studies Center.