Exile from the Grasslands
Tibetan Herders and Chinese Development Projects
- PUBLISHED: December 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / Tibet, Anthropology, Environmental Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 188 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 17 b&w illus., 5 maps, 1 table
- SERIES: Studies on Ethnic Groups in China
- ISBN: 9780295748191
At the beginning of the new millennium, the Chinese government launched the Great Opening of the West, a development strategy targeted at remote areas inhabited mainly by indigenous ethnic groups. Intended to modernize infrastructure and halt environmental degradation, its tactics in western China have resulted in the displacement of pastoral Tibetans to urban residence and sedentary livelihoods, causing massive social and economic shifts and uncertainty and eventually leading to signs of discontent in ethnically Tibetan regions.
Based on more than a decade of fieldwork, Exile from the Grasslands documents the viewpoints of both the people affected—Tibetan pastoralists in Qinghai Province—and the Chinese officials charged with relocating and settling them in newly constructed housing projects. As China’s international influence expands, the welfare of its ethnic minorities and its handling of environmental issues are receiving close media scrutiny. Jarmila Ptáčkova’s study documents a politically and ecologically significant process that is happening—unlike events in Lhasa or Xinjiang—largely outside the view of the wider world.
Authors & Contributors
Jarmila Ptáčková is a researcher at the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Exile from the Grasslands is a monumental work for understanding the socio-economic and cultural transformation that has taken place in recent decades among Tibetan nomads in western China.- Inner Asia
[A] well-balanced account of Tibetan pastoralists’ responses to, and experiences of, Chinese development projects.- Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice
In a refreshingly clear fashion, the author untangles and traces the often-overlapping paths of policies from the top levels of the central government to the local levels ofimplementation. In this regard, Exile from the Grasslands will be a welcome addition for introducing undergraduate and graduate students to development policy in Tibetan areas of China.- China Quarterly
Ptáčková examines the competing explanations of why the grasslands have deteri-orated since the incorporation of Tibet into the Chinese state. What emerges from her analysis is a clear statement that while recent land-use activities by some pastoralists have contributed to the situation, the often unintended but nevertheless real conse-quences of Chinese state policies themselves and their inconsistent implementation and often contradictory goals are primarily to blame.- Journal of Anthropological Research
Promises to become a core text on the impacts of development policy in China and on modernization in Tibetan pastoralist societies. The scholarship is impeccable, offering a major contribution to knowledge about a place and a topic that are very difficult to research.- Nancy Levine, UCLA
Ptáčková discerningly combines extensive ethnography with unique access to government documents—revealing the mixture of well-intentioned policies, negative outcomes, and human desires involved in yet another radical transformation of Tibetan rural lives under the purview of an all-powerful state.- Toni Huber, author of Source of Life: Revitalisation Rites and Bon Shamans in Bhutan and the Eastern Himalayas