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Hope and Sorrow: Uncivil Religion, Tibetan Music Videos, and YouTube

TitleHope and Sorrow: Uncivil Religion, Tibetan Music Videos, and YouTube
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWarner, CD
JournalEthnos: Journal of Anthropology
KeywordsChina, media, Music, religion, Tibet, YouTube

Tibetan activists and their supporters are interpreting the lyrical and visual symbolism of contemporary Tibetan music videos from China as a call for Tibetans to return to a shared Tibetan identity, centered around religious piety and implied civil disobedience, in order to counter fears of cultural assimilation. As the popularity of some videos on social-networking sites dovetailed with the 2008 protests in Tibet, viewers employed a progressive hermeneutical strategy which demanded a sectarian political interpretation of the lyrics and imagery of the most popular videos out of Tibet. Within China, Tibetans have begun to add these videos to the growing canon of an emerging uncivil religion, which emphasizes Tibetan cultural, linguistic, and religious autonomy within China. Through comparing online and offline ethnography, this article explores the relationship between offline and online worlds and the connections between Tibetans in China and their supporters.