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Beyond Assimilation: The Tibetanisation of Tibetan Education in Qinghai

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China's minority education in general – and Tibetan education in particular – is often viewed as a hegemonic tool designed to assimilate minorities, seeking to integrate them into Han culture and society, while at the same time marginalising them through discourses of cultural inferiority and backwardness. The aim of this article is to go beyond seemingly straightforward portrayals of minority education (and especially of Tibetan education) as a device for sinicisation by analysing the historically situated, complex and often contradictory dynamics of how it has facilitated the simultaneous expression and suppression of different aspects of Tibetan 'culture' and language. Through an evaluation of the development of Tibetan-medium education in Qinghai province, it is demonstrated that minorities are not just passive victims at the hand of a dominant state, but strategising agents who can creatively explore and expand the political and cultural space within which they operate.


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