Machek_cornerThe Machik Team comprising of founding sisters Dr. Tashi Rabgey, Dr. Lobsang Rabgey and Mrs. Tsering Dolma (Amala) along with Tenzin Nangkyi (Development Manager) was at the Institute to share their experiences and work in Tibet. Their participation here was part of the Machik-India 2016 Program. It was an inspiration to listen to them. Here is brief synopsis:

a) Monday, April 11, 2016- ‘Governance: New paradigm for Tibet Research.’

On April 11, Dr. Tashi Rabgey delivered a lecture as guest scholar to the Dalai Lama Institute.  Her two hour talk cum discussion had the audience rapt in thought and silence.  It was very relevant – in fact too relevant as well as painfully knawing . She spoke on the topic: ‘Governance: New paradigm for Tibet Research.’  It was based on her rich international academic exposure, practical work and field experiences in Tibet and her many years of personal research scholarship.  Her presentation was a new way of thinking and working for Tibet. Generally academics and academicians have no political colour and see through neutrality all the grey details of the issue. This is precisely what Dr. Rabgey did.

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As Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, Dr. Rabgey has led an academic policy research dialogue called the Tibet Governance and Practice (TGAP) Initiative.  This research initiative has been based on Dr. Rabgey’s insight that it is possible approach the academic study of the Sino-Tibetan dispute through a new paradigm – the governance paradigm.  The TGAP initiative was a seven-year academic dialogue that involved leading universities and institutions from around the world — including Harvard, UQÀM and McGill as key partners — as well as policy research counterparts from Beijing.

In her presentation at the Dalai Lama Institute, Dr. Rabgey drew on her analysis in an early policy monograph she co-athored, Sino-Tibetan Dialogue in the Post-Mao Era:  Lessons and Prospects, in order to explain how it is possible to develop constructive academic dialogue on core issues of the Sino-Tibetan dispute.

These include, for example, the core issue of the definition of “Tibet”.  What is the scope of the issue?  Though the TGAP initiative, it has been possible to establish with Chinese policy researchers that the proper scope of the issue is the entire Tibetan homeland, and not just the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).  To have Chinese policy researchers from Beijing to agree was a major development for the academic debate on the nature and substance of the Tibet issue.


Dr. Rabgey also explained how it was possible to develop this new academic process.  In a meeting of Tibet scholars in Oslo in 2008, Dr. Rabgey argued that a new approach for the study of the Tibet issue was necessary.  It was important to go beyond both the limiting discussions of “human rights” (which has been the prevailing discourse in the global context) and of “economic development” (which was the state discourse inside the People’s Republic of China).  Instead, she argued for a governance perspective that would put the problem of decision-making at the center of analysis.

To demonstrate her argument, Dr. Rabgey used insights from socio-linguistics to show how the concepts we use — for example, terms such as mi-rigs (nation/nationality) — determine and often limit what it is we are able to see and discern as politically meaningful.  By rethinking concepts such as “rights”, “development”, and “power”, Dr. Rabgey’s research has shown that a reframing of the issues can generate new political potential for the future of Tibet.

b) Saturday, April 16, 20116 –Film Screening + Discussion

The week-end program was conducted by Dr. Lobsang Rabgey and Tenzin Nangkyi with inputs by Mrs. Tsering Dolma

Films from Tibet Come Home:
In the evening on Saturday, Machik introduced viewers at the institute to a few different documentaries filmed by Tibetan filmmakers.“The Valley of Heroes” by Khashem Gyal moved many hearts and brought tears to many eyes. It was indeed an eye opening night.

c) Sunday, April 17, 2016 – Social Impact in Tibet through Innovation

Panel Discussion with Machik

A Panel Discussion was held with the Machik Team on Sunday. It was divided into four sessions.

  • Morning First Session – Innovative Civic Engagement: Reimagining Our futures
  • Morning Second Session -Tibetan Agency and Empowerment: Reimagining our Potential (Danger of single story)
  • Afternoon First Session -Perspectives on Contemporary Tibet:
  • Afternoon Second Session: Conclusion -Sharing Circle

This workshop was real inspiring and many students from outside colleges too come here to attend this workshop.

Conclusion: Their presentation really touched and moved our students as many are from Tibet and belonged to the regions Machik spoke about. This was not ‘some talk.’ It was real, relevant and well researched presentation. It subtly connected those from Tibet with their land and opened the reality of being here for Tibet. Machik did not talk about politics or religion. It was about how you can impact Tibet socially through education and research and people to people connection. This will be tough, but worth sticking out your neck. It is better to live for Tibet knowing that at every corner death awaits you.

staff writers
Samphel Dhondhen & Tenzing Sangpo