Tsering Shakya

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 
 

Postdoctoral Fellows

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
Social Inequality and Resource Management: Gender, Caste and Class in the Rural Himalayas (2015)

The management of irrigation water and other resources, as practiced by traditional farming communities in developing countries, is often presented as a model of an equitable system – especially when compared to systems managed by states. This study demonstrates that the resource management practices in two Himalayan farming communities are, in fact, inequitable in terms of local gender, caste and class roles. This thesis examines inequalities in the social organization of irrigation systems in two villages in Spiti Valley in India’s Himachal Pradesh state. Its key finding is that the social organization of irrigation management, particularly in terms of farmers’ gender, class and caste backgrounds, is best understood as part of a broader division of labor for farming and related resources (such as for the management of fodder, dung and firewood), which are all embedded in the local socio-economic structure. This finding, which is based on participatory observation and interviews with farmers, as well as an analysis of historical and legal documents, underlines the importance of studying management of different resource sectors relationally rather than compartmentally. In particular, this study identifies key functional linkages between the social organization of farming and different resource sectors and develops theoretical approaches to the study of resource management in rural communities.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Communist Party Authority: The Fundamental Problem of Dalai Lama Leadership (2016)

Tibet has been under the administrative control of the People’s Republic of China since 1950. The Seventeen-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, signed in 1951, promised autonomy to Tibetans, as well as the freedom to practice their religion, Tibetan Buddhism. In practice, however, the PRC has not allowed this autonomy or freedom of religion to Tibetans within its borders. The identity of the Tibetan people is largely based on their strong religiosity, manifested in their reverence of their leadership institutions: the Dalai Lama and to a lesser extent, the Panchen Lama. As the PRC government has sought to suppress religion and control religious practices, it has exerted a stricter level of control over the religions perceived as ‘foreign,’ of which Tibetan Buddhism is one. This strict control of ‘foreign’ religions (specifically their leadership institutions) has manifested in the defamation and coercive manipulation of the Dalai and Panchen Lama institutions, in order for the Chinese Communist Party to maintain its control over Tibet. This thesis asks why the CCP perceives the control of these leadership institutions as necessary for achieving its broader policy goals. Through an in-depth review and analysis of relevant literature, this thesis will argue that the strong religiosity of Tibetans and the corresponding politico-religious power wielded by the Dalai and Panchen Lama leadership institutions are perceived as threats by the CCP. The power of Tibetan Buddhism and its leadership institution, as well as the identity they instill in Tibetans, threatens not only the CCP’s control over the resource-rich region, but also its legitimacy as the unique governing power over a secular, unified China. To the Chinese government in Beijing, allowing the Dalai and Panchen Lamas the freedom to return to Tibet, whether in body or just through the worship of Tibetan Buddhists, would be tantamount to losing its control over the entire region.

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