China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Digital technologies—broadly construed to include both hardware like mobile phones and digital cameras, and software applications like social media—are rapidly transforming the lives of people around the globe.This is particularly true in marginalized communities where the introduction of new technologies and new media simultaneously presents opportunities to push back against hegemonic representations, enables new forms of surveillance, and provides the state and market forces with new means to consolidate existing discourses. As Tibetan communities in China respond to a host of social changes including rapid economic growth, urbanization, and sedentarization policies, Tibetans across western China have enthusiastically adapted increasingly ubiquitous and affordable digital technologies to consider what it means to be Tibetan in a rapidly changing world by publicly negotiating and reworking attitudes toward language, traditional culture, the environment, and religion in innovative ways. Presenters on this panel examine emerging ways of being Tibetan in a digital world from a variety of perspectives including how social media has shaped the development of emergent practices of photo sharing and hip hop, as well as "analog" cultural forms like UNESCO-listed Tibetan opera traditions and literature. In doing so we not only offer insights into the Tibetan digital realm, but also provide new and often overlooked perspectives on understandings of China’s digital landscape, while also contributing to a broader understanding of indigenous and minority media work around the world.