Between Homelessness and Homecoming: Three Generations of Tibetan Exile in India

Spring 2015 Grant Recipient

Graduate Student

Swati Chawla(History) How have five decades of exile shaped the ideas of belonging, (up)rootedness, and religious tradition in the Tibetan diaspora? The proposed research aims to answer this question by studying recent innovations within the Buddhist female monastic tradition through the Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP), and by analyzing relationships to space and time in agricultural, craft-based, monastic, and "scattered" refugee settlements in India and Nepal. The TNP considers exile in India as an opportunity for nuns to reconfigure their position in Tibetan society; India is also imagined both as a place of refuge, and as the first home (of Buddhism). By using wall graffiti, protest songs, online signature campaigns, and "Free Tibet" merchandise as sources, my work redresses the scholarly neglect of these ephemeral and mostly non-textual materials that characterize the everydayness of Tibetan life in exile.