Tibet Lost in Translation: Power Politics, Language and the Mechanics of International Order Transformation Between the Sinosphere and Westphalia, 1890-1937
Cheney, Amanda Jaclyn
How did Tibet become part of the modern Chinese state? This dissertation examines China and Tibet during the transition from the Sinosphere to Westphalia as illustrative cases of how individual political entities experience transformation in the nature of international order. My analysis assumes that there are no predestined connections between norms and institutions of different international systems. Thus, I contend that the status of an individual state is a function of the linguistic codes, expertise and diplomatic practices used to establish connections between its former status and the new international order. The most important asset individual polities can possess is knowledge of the rules of the ascendant order as this gives them greater control over the way that they are rendered legible in the new system, which, in turn, determines whether they will survive as an independent state or be subordinated by another nation. These conclusions are drawn from investigation of Anglo-Chinese-Tibetan relations during the transition from East Asia’s historical Sinocentric world order to the contemporary global Westphalian state system using fine-grained, multilingual, textual analysis of archival records collected during 15 months of fieldwork in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (Taiwan), India and the UK. My findings demonstrate the agency of individual actors within structural change and the extent to which command of discourse can empower weak actors to punch above their weight.
International relations; Asian history; discourse; international order; Tibet; international law; Political science; sovereignty; china
Carlson, Allen R.
Tuttle, Gray; Evangelista, Matthew Anthony; Mertha, Andrew
PHD of Government
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis