CHS-IRGS Webinar |The Politics of Language Oppression: Tibet, China and the World

The Centre of Excellence for Himalayan Studies and the Department of International Relations and Governance Studies (IRGS) are jointly organising an online seminar that features a talk by Dr Gerald Roche, Associate Professor of Politics at La Trobe University, Australia, on the theme The Politics of Language Oppression: Tibet, China and the World" on Wednesday27 March  20243 PM on MS Teams

Abstract of the talk: This presentation will provide insights based on extensive research in Tibet, drawing on work I did while living in Qinghai Province from 2005 until 2013, and subsequent fieldwork in the Region from 2013 to 2018. I focus in particular on language oppression: how specific populations are coerced into giving up their languages and shifting to dominant languages. A key aspect of the research that I will discuss entails acknowledging Tibet’s linguistic diversity: Tibetans in China Speak dozens of languages, not simply a single Tibetan language that we typically read about in scholarship, journalism, and activism. By focusing on the smaller indigenous languages spoken in Tibet, my research has revealed the complex contours of language oppression politics in the region. These include not only assimilatory policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but also the policies and practices of Tibetan nationalists within and outside China, and counter-intuitive alignment between competing super-power rivals, the US and China. The research reveals the ongoing harms of the CCP’s assimilatory policies in Tibet, and how failures of critique and resistance are exacerbating these. My presentation will also give insights into recent developments in ethnic politics in China, and more broadly into the complexities of language oppression politics globally in the twenty-first century.