The criminalization of Tibetan women and nuns in Asia’s borderlands: Design

This research will involve conducting semi-structured interviews with Tibetan migrants and refugees currently residing in communities in exile in India and Nepal. By using relationships in various communities in exile, this research will incorporate interviews with migrants who left Tibet during, or around the time of the initial Chinese occupation in the late 1950’s, and newly arrived refugees in India or Nepal. While there is a focus on the experience of Tibetan women and nuns, interviews will be undertaken with Tibetan men to assess any differences.

Given the historical context, this research proposes to use an oral history methodology and narrative analysis to document and examine the experience of Tibetan women on the Nepal border. It is widely documented that Tibetan history and experience is closely linked with national history, and as a result, personal experiences are construed to fit within a particular historical framework (McGranahan, 2005). While this research proposes to contribute to the wider Tibetan history, the use of oral history allows for the inclusion of specific perspectives, particularly those that may differentiate from embedded historical expectations. This is important, as both Barnett (2010) and McGranahan (2005) have highlighted, individual stories, or histories are often shaped around the general Tibetan experience.

Interviews will be semi- structured, and will aim to document the overall experience of Tibetans on the border. However, within this narrative, this research aims to address the following questions:

  1. What is the experience of Tibetans, and specifically Tibetan women and nuns on the Nepal border? and
  2. What are the historical, political and cultural factors that shape this experience?