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Vicissitudes in the Past 70 Years – An Interview Record of a Tibetan Doctor, Gelek

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Vicissitudes in the Past 70 Years – An Interview Record of a Tibetan Doctor, Gelek

October 12
17:50 2021

Dr. Gelek, Tibetan, is an internationally renowned Tibetan scholar. He is the first Doctor of anthropology in the people’s Republic of China and the first Doctor in Tibetan history. He is now a visiting professor at the University of California and a visiting doctoral supervisor at Minzu University of China and Southwest Minzu University.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/8eulxatSViE

Gelek was born in the Tibetan area of Ganzi, Sichuan Province in 1950. He has experienced and witnessed the development and great changes of Tibet and the people in the past 70 years. Throughout 30 years of studying, he has grown from the lowest class in Old Tibet to the first Doctor in New China; after 20 years of academic research, he has grown into an authority in international Tibetan studies. Recently, Dr. Gelek received an exclusive interview and looked back on his course of growth with deep feelings.

Before liberation, Tibet implemented a serf system based on blood lineage. The serf class served the nobility as cheap labor from generation to generation. Gelek was born in such a serf family. Before five, he worked with his family for the local nobility. He worked hard during the day and slept in the corridor at night without any freedom and dignity. Until the liberation and reform of Tibet in 1956, Gelek grasped the opportunity to study for the first time in his life. So far, with the support of his mother and the subsidy of Chinese new government, Gelek overcame the difficulties such as material shortage and language barriers, and sequentially finished primary, secondary and university studies. He then successfully admitted to the Master’s degree of Southwest Minzu University, and became fascinated with academic research. During this period, he read a large number of Chinese and foreign books and thus got rid of the class concept and religious constraints formed since childhood. Therefore, he began to make determined efforts to intensively study the historical, cultural, ethnic and social problems of Tibet through academic research, so as to contribute intellectual support to the development of New Tibet.

Gelek, with his Master degree, continued to study while working, and successfully entered the Department of Anthropology of Sun Yat-sen University as a doctoral student in 1984. He then became the first Doctor of anthropology in New China and the first Doctor in Tibetan history. Since the 1990s, Dr. Gelek has organized and participated in academic research teams at home and abroad for many times. He went deep into the hinterland of Tibet to carry out investigations in the fields of Tibetan society, ethnic groups, environment and religion and obtain a large number of first-hand academic materials. He has accomplished the publications of 3 books and dozens of academic papers.

After the interview, Gelek said: “when I was young, my religion made me believe that my fate was doomed in the preexistence. As a serf, I was limited in a narrow space. Later, I finally had the opportunity to make a leap through learning. Who trained me? I’m just the epitome of this great change. It’s my pleasure to fight for this era all my life!”

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