Modernizing Traditions on the Roof of the World: Displaying ‘Liberation’ and ‘Occupation’ in Three Tibet Museums | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2045-5836
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5844



This article investigates the representational interplay between tradition and modernity in three museums about Tibet: the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, China; the Qinghai Tibetan Culture Museum in Xining, China; and the Tibet Museum in Dharamsala, India. Analyzing how each museum displays Tibetan heritage, three modalities of representing Tibetan culture and Tibet’s disputed ‘liberation’ are identified – triumphant modernization, spectacular sacralization, and catastrophic witnessing. Each modality reproduces, counters and complicates dominant Chinese narratives concerning Tibet’s history, culture and political status. Also discussed are the implications of these practices for displaying contested cultural narratives in contemporary China.


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