New book: The Battle for Fortune, by Charlene Makley

The Battle for Fortune: State-led Development, Personhood and Power among Tibetans in China
by Charlene Makley (Professor of Anthropology, Reed College)
©2018 Cornell University Press

Anthropologist Charlene Makley is already known for her work on the gendered and ambivalent processes of state-led economic development, cultural politics of ethnicity, nationalism, and monastic revival in the northeast Tibetan area of Labrang (The Violence of Liberation: Gender and Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Post-Mao China, 2007).
She began working on this new project in the early 2000s, just after China’s central leaders launched the Great Develop the West campaign (Ch. Xibu Da Kaifa), producing new dilemmas for Tibetans as circulations of people, money and information intensified in the frontier zone. For this project, she moved to a new, but historically related research site in Rebgong, a few mountain passes to the northwest of Labrang and site of the famous Geluk-sect Buddhist monastery of Rongwo. She carried out the primary fieldwork for this research in 2007-2008, during the tumultuous period leading up to and beyond the widespread Tibetan unrest that spring, the massive Sichuan earthquake, and the great spectacle of the Beijing Olympics. In this research, she deepens her analysis of state-local relations in the frontier zone in the wake of the 2008 state of emergency. This is achieved by bringing linguistic anthropological approaches to personhood, governance and authority into dialogue with recent interdisciplinary debates about the very nature of human subjectivity and relations with nonhuman others (including deities and material objects).
(Adapted from the author’s webpage.)

“The analysis in The Battle for Fortune is fresh, original, and packed with insights. It is based on fieldwork in a region that is very difficult to work in, conducted during an extremely politically sensitive time. The Battle for Fortune also makes significant interventions into much broader sets of inquiries on development, capitalism, and anthropological inquiry writ large.”
— Emily T. Yeh, University of Colorado at Boulder
(from the publisher’s page)

Cite this blog post
Nicolas Sihlé (2018, February 26). New book: The Battle for Fortune, by Charlene Makley. The Himalayas and beyond. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from

Nicolas Sihlé

Nicolas Sihlé, a sociocultural anthropologist, is researcher at the Center for Himalayan Studies, a research unit of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) based in Villejuif (France). He specializes on Tibetan religion and society, and is the author of Rituels bouddhiques de pouvoir et de violence : La figure du tantriste tibétain [Buddhist rituals of power and violence : The figure of the Tibetan tantrist] (Brepols, 2013). His current work focuses on post-Mao socioreligious transitions in and around the famous communities of non-monastic specialists of tantric Buddhism in northeast Tibet (Amdo), and more generally on the comparative anthropology of Buddhism.

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