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Rehearsing the State: The Political Practices of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile

ISBN: 978-1-118-66122-2
240 pages
December 2015
Rehearsing the State: The Political Practices of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (1118661222) cover image


Rehearsing the State presents a comprehensive investigation of the institutions, performances, and actors through which the Tibetan Government-in-Exile is rehearsing statecraft. McConnell offers new insights into how communities officially excluded from formal state politics enact hoped-for futures and seek legitimacy in the present.

  • Offers timely and original insights into exile Tibetan politics based on detailed qualitative research in Tibetan communities in India
  • Advances existing debates in political geography by bringing ideas of stateness and statecraft into dialogue with geographies of temporality
  • Explores the provisional and pedagogical dimensions of state practices, adding weight to assertions that states are in a continual situation of emergence
  • Makes a significant contribution to critical state theory
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Table of Contents

List of Figures viii

Series Editors' Preface ix

Acknowledgements x

Note on Transliteration xiii

1 Introduction 1

2 Rethinking the (Non)state: Time / Space / Performance 17

3 Setting the Scene: Contested Narratives of Tibetan Statehood 40

4 Rehearsal Spaces: Material and Symbolic Roles of Exile Tibetan Settlements 61

5 Playwright and Cast: Crafting Legitimacy in Exile 92

6 Scripting the State: Constructing a Population, Welfare State and Citizenship in Exile 116

7 Audiences of Statecraft: Negotiating Hospitality and Performing Diplomacy 145

8 Conclusion: Rehearsing Stateness 171

References 190

Index 216

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Author Information

Fiona McConnell is Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Oxford. She is co-editor of Geographies of Peace (2014) and Diplomatic Cultures and International Politics forthcoming), and sits on the Board of Directors of the Tibet Justice Centre.
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‘This is much more than yet another account of controversy about Tibet's status. By looking in from the 'margins' of the state system Rehearsing the State offers a brilliant illumination of sovereignty everywhere.’

James D Sidaway, Professor of Political Geography, National University of Singapore


‘This fascinating book provides both an in-depth account of the workings of the Tibetan government in exile and a new way of thinking about the state and stateness. Drawing on dramaturgical ideas of performance, rehearsal and play, Fiona McConnell unsettles established understandings of the relationships between state, sovereignty and territory. In the process she not only reveals much about the political geographies of the Tibetan diaspora, but also shows how an apparently marginal geopolitical phenomenon can shed new light on questions of government, citizenship and political authority.’

Joe Painter, Professor of Geography, University of Durham, UK

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