Tourism Practices, Heritage Policies, and Anthropological Sites
Conclusion: The Politics of Travel 121
Conclusion The Politics of Travel Unlike tropical islands, mountainous places such as Tibet were not desira- ble destinations in the European and American imagination until relatively recently. The Darwinian revolution and a radical transformation of the aesthet- ics of nature and especially mountains were required before this could happen. And, once desired, these places, much like tropical islands, were valued because they were idealized as separate from modernity. Writing in the wake of the British occupation of Lhasa in 1905, L. Austine Waddell asserted that the purpose of the invasion was not to overthrow the existing Tibetan political order, but to provide British protection to a “charming land and interesting people” (1906: 448). What is puzzling is how, despite his own descriptions of the abject material poverty he encountered, Waddell, much like other travelers to Tibet in the years before the post-1949 Chinese occupation, could reach such a conclusion. He writes that “the real mind of Tibet seems to me to be more authentically expressed in the words of the Cardinal of Lhasa than in the superstitions of the monks and the people” (ibid). This illustrates the paradoxi- cal way in which an idealized Tibet has come to substitute for Tibetans as actually existing beings in the minds of many Europeans and Americans. No matter what realities foreigners encounter, either in person or through films, books, and essays, ‘Tibet’ is forever a land outside of the everyday reality of their lives. The world we inhabit is one in which people...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.