Unrest in Tibet: what do variations in the incidence of protest and conflict tell us about the dynamics of political integration?

Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, the University of Melbourne 

Dr Ben Hillman

5.30-7.00pm Thursday 31 August, 2017
Old Geology, Theatre 2, University of Melbourne, Parkville

In 2008 a wave of political unrest broke out across Tibetan regions in China. Characterized by street protests, inter-communal violence, and, later, by self-immolations, the political mobilisation was the most widespread since the annexation of Tibetan areas in the first decade of the People’s Republic of China. And yet, although the unrest spread far and wide across the Tibet Plateau, not all areas were affected. This seminar draws on recent fieldwork in eastern Tibet to provide tentative answers to the question “why have some Tibetan localities mobilized politically while others have not?” Findings challenge previous scholarship on this subject, and shed light on political developments in Tibetan areas, including the dynamics of integration, and the efficacy of China’s nation-building project.

Ben Hillman is a senior lecturer in the Crawford School of public policy at the Australian National University. He studies political development in Asia, with a particular focus on China and Indonesia. Ben is especially interested in the role of informal institutions in public policy making, and in policies and mechanisms for promoting political inclusion and protect minority rights. His forthcoming book will be published in Chinese, Shangrila Inside Out: Ethnic Diversity and Development (Yunnan People’s Publishing House). He has recently co-edited (with Gray Tuttle) Ethnic Conflict and Protest in Tibet and Xinjiang: Unrest in China’s West (Columbia University Press, 2016), and previously authored Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-state Resilience in Rural China (Stanford University Press, 2014).