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Emotions in Exile: Insights of a History of Emotions of the Tibetan Diaspora in India


· Frederik Schröer Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin / Freie Univerity Berlin (Berlin, Germany)


07/28 | 11:40-12:00 UTC+2/CEST


“We have failed to give the emotions the attention they deserve,” states the 1962 Report of the Committee on Emotional Integration of the Indian Ministry of Education (1962: 1), and goes on to remind its readers of the central role of emotions in nation building. Emotions have been a driving force and key concern in the political, social, and religious history of twentieth-century South Asia. Casting a fresh glance beyond the well-trodden paths of national histories, this paper proposes a new perspective on the role of emotions in South Asia by focusing on the history of the Tibetan diaspora in India. Using the concept of feeling community, it probes how the larger processes of nation building or the Nehruvian “emotional integration” were refracted against vernacular emotional and religious concepts and cosmologies in the formation of the Tibetan community in exile. Special attention will be paid to the role of “negative” emotions such as suffering as both meaning-makings and practices in community formation. The context of the Tibetan diaspora will highlight how the religious valence of these emotions was renegotiated in the encounter with South Asian modernity. Special attention will be paid to their complex temporal structuring in the relations between exile and homeland, tradition and modernity. Through perspectives on the role of emotions in diasporic practices of belonging in emplacement, protest, and education, the importance of the history of emotions for South Asian studies in general and studies of migration and diaspora in particular will be shown.