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Contemporary China Initiative: At the Edge of China—life in a Tibetan town

Monday, September 27, 2021 at 4:45pm to 6:15pm

Virtual Event

At the Edge of China—life in a Tibetan town is the focus of this talk by our guest speaker Barbara Demick, journalist, and author (Eat the Buddha, Penguin Random House, 2021).  Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has exhibited zero tolerance for any slippage at the edges of the empire. The mass incarceration of the Muslim population of Xinjiang and the rollback of Hong Kong’s autonomy have grabbed the most attention. Tibet is experiencing the same erosion of its identity, even if the Party is proceeding more carefully.

Barbara Demick looks at life in Ngaba (Aba in Chinese), a small Tibetan county, which became the engine of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule with a wave of self-immolations that started in 2009. Ngaba is the subject of Demick’s newest book, Eat the Buddha, which was listed among the best non-fiction of 2020 by the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Economist, and NPR, among others. 

In the Cornell Contemporary China Initiative’s seventh year, our guest speakers and host Allen Carlson critically examine, the question “What is China?”

This topic is explored in the series through utilizing an inter-disciplinary perspective and making use of both historical and contemporary lenses. In so doing it will touch upon some of the most pressing and significant political and social issues now facing “China” and the rest of the world.  In this context, particular attention will be paid to contested places, with special consideration of how they are placed within (or without) what is considered to be China. And will shed light on the impact such practices and processes have had on those living in these regions.

Hosted by Allen Carlson, CAPS Director, and Michael J. Zak, Chair, Cornell University | CCCI Director for Fall 2021

Cosponsored by the East Asia Program and The Levinson China and Asia-Pacific Studies (CAPS) Program.

The lecture series complements Professor Carlson’s course of the same name:

CAPS 3967 / ASIAN 3395 / GOVT 3967


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Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, East Asia Program, Asian & Asian American Center, China and Asia-Pacific Studies, Cornell China Center

University Themes



asian, cascal, migration, Einaudi, Einaudi Center, racial justice, capscal, govtcal



Cornell Contemporary China Initiative
Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Amala Lane


Barbara Demick

Speaker Affiliation

Journalist, author

Dept. Web Site

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