Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Inscribing Empire: Sovereignty, Subjectivity and Sino-Tibetan Relations 1720-1820

My research centres on the Tibetan lay elite as an empire builder and their life writing practice as a site where concepts of empire, sovereignty and subjectivity were negotiated. Drawing upon Tibetan and Chinese literary and archival sources, I trace the trajectory of the biographical practice of Tibetan ministers and lay elites and contend the first century of Qing rule in Tibet (1720-1820) was a continuous process of dynamic interaction between the imperial centre and the periphery, where notions of sovereignty and subjectivity were being negotiated through inscriptional practice. I refer here to the literary inscription through which Tibetan elites brokered their position as subjects of the empire. The central argument of this project is that the form of the Tibetan autobiographical narrative mirrored changes over time in the structures, processes, and idioms of empire. As such, the relationship between autobiographical accounts and empire was reciprocal. Just as changes in the geographical and cultural landscapes of empire came to be recorded in autobiographical writings, such writings imagined, mapped, and produced empire. Furthermore, Tibet autobiographical accounts formed a textual space in which narratives of subjectivity and interiority were preserved, and changing notions of sovereignty and authority were articulated and contested.