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The Blank Canvas Of Tibet

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Chapter Summary

The basic elements of the history of Western interest in Tibet are by now relatively well-known. According to Donald Lopez, the Western perspective on Tibet that gained in momentum during the seventeenth century, and which served as the discursive apparatus of legitimation for Catholic missionary activity, sought to characterize the Tibetans as a lost people in need of both the guidance of Roman Catholicism and Christian salvation. According to Michael Foucault, power never simply denies something without inadvertently creating something else, and the annexation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1950 is a case in point. That is, although it resulted in even more stringent restrictions on Western access to that country than had previously existed in terms of the 1904 Convention, it also gave rise to the idea of Tibet as a blank canvas.

Keywords: blank canvas; Catholicism; Christian; Donald Lopez; Tibet; Western interest



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