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Asian Studies

Tibet’s Linguistic Minorities in the Twenty-first Century: Survival or Assimilation

Date: 3:30pm PDT March 20, 2014 Location: Miller Hall

Miller Hall

Tibet’s population is diverse in complex and multifaceted ways. This presentation will focus on one aspect of this diversity - that of language - but will also explore the social, historical, and political conditions in which this diversity exists, and the new contexts that are now threatening this diversity. At present, the Tibetan Plateau is home to about thirty-five non-Tibetan languages that are spoken nowhere else in the world. The first years of the twenty-first century, however, have seen the appearance of multiple pressures on these languages, and it is currently unclear which, if any, of Tibet’s non-Tibetan languages will survive into the next century. This presentation will explore the complex and sometimes unexpected contemporary social and political factors that are now impacting these languages. In order to better understand the changes currently taking place, I will also look into Tibet’s history to examine the extent to which the present moment represents a rupture from, or continuity with, prior historical trends. In taking this broad view of Tibet’s minority populations, informed by an understanding of the region’s history, as well as contemporary society and politics, we can peer into the future, and perhaps learn what awaits these languages - survival or assimilation?

Asian Studies

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