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[book] Common Ground

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Lan Wu. Common Ground. Tibetan Buddhist Expansion and Qing China’s Inner Asia. Columbia University Press, 2022.

«The Qing empire and the Dalai Lama-led Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism came into contact in the eighteenth century. Their interconnections would shape regional politics and the geopolitical history of Inner Asia for centuries to come. In Common Ground, Lan Wu analyzes how Tibetan Buddhists and the Qing imperial rulers interacted and negotiated as both sought strategies to expand their influence in eighteenth-century Inner Asia. In so doing, she recasts the Qing empire, seeing it not as a monolithic project of imperial administration but as a series of encounters among different communities.

Wu examines a series of interconnected sites in the Qing empire where the influence of Tibetan Buddhism played a key role, tracing the movement of objects, flows of peoples, and circulation of ideas in the space between China and Tibet. She identifies a transregional Tibetan Buddhist knowledge network, which provided institutional, pragmatic, and intellectual common ground for both polities. Wu draws out the voices of lesser-known Tibetan Buddhists, whose writings and experiences evince an alternative Buddhist space beyond the state. She highlights interactions between Mongols and Tibetans within the Qing empire, exploring the creation of a Buddhist Inner Asia. Wu argues that Tibetan Buddhism occupied a central—but little understood—role in the Qing vision of empire. Revealing the interdependency of two expanding powers, Common Ground sheds new light on the entangled histories of political, social, and cultural ties between Tibet and China.»

New Book: Forging the Golden Urn

000000_urnMax Oidtmann. Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet.

«In Forging the Golden Urn, Max Oidtmann ventures into the polyglot world of the Qing empire in search of the origins of the golden urn tradition. He seeks to understand the relationship between the Qing state and its most powerful partner in Inner Asia—the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. Why did the Qianlong emperor invent the golden urn lottery in 1792? What ability did the Qing state have to alter Tibetan religious and political traditions? What did this law mean to Qing rulers, their advisors, and Tibetan Buddhists? Working with both the Manchu-language archives of the empire’s colonial bureaucracy and the chronicles of Tibetan elites, Oidtmann traces how a Chinese bureaucratic technology—a lottery for assigning administrative posts—was exported to the Tibetan and Mongolian regions of the Qing empire and transformed into a ritual for identifying and authenticating reincarnations. Forging the Golden Urn sheds new light on how the empire’s frontier officers grappled with matters of sovereignty, faith, and law and reveals the role that Tibetan elites played in the production of new religious traditions in the context of Qing rule».