Jamyang Norbu

Tibet watchers know him as one of the most incisive and prolific commentators on the political scene, a writer with strong opinions but also the wide reading and intellectual depth to back them up, sometimes fiercely.
International Herald Tribune

Jamyang Norbu is the author of The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes which won the Crossword Book Award, India’s equivalent of the Booker Prize, and has been published in ten languages. He is also the author of Warriors of Tibet and Performing Traditions of Tibet. The latter reflects his work as the director of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA). He has also written a number of plays as well as a traditional Tibetan opera libretto. Norbu served as a director of the Tibetan Centre for Advanced Studies (the Amnye Machen Institute), which was twice awarded the Poul Lauretzen Freedom Prize of Denmark.

A collection of Norbu’s political essays have been published in a volume, Illusion and Reality. A second collection, Shadow Tibet, is to be released soon. He is also the author of Rangzen Charter: The Case for Independent Tibet. His most recent book, Buying the Dragon’s Teeth, deals with the darker side of China’s economic success. Norbu has written guest essays for Newsweek, op-eds for Canada’s Globe and Mail, reviews for the Japan Times, and others.

Norbu is a former member of the Tibetan resistance movement (Chushi Gangdruk) in Mustang on the Nepal-Tibet border. He currently lives in Tennessee, US, with his wife and two daughters.

Jamyang Norbu on TibetWrites

Articles [23]

  • After the Dalai Lama With so much energy and spirit, perhaps the Dalai Lama can begin to accomplish in life what many fear can happen only after his death. 28 October 2002
  • Barefoot Experts Even in the 90s rural Chinese had been so turned off by such official health-care that they were reverting to treatment by traditional “witch doctors”. 11 June 2008
  • Black Annals: Goldstein and the Negation of Tibetan History (part I) What made many in the Tibetan world stand up and pay attention to Professor Melvyn Goldstein’s A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State was the unmistakable impression that here was a radical reinterpretation of Tibetan history. 20 July 2008
  • Black Annals: Goldstein and the Negation of Tibetan History (part II) Goldstein provides us a detailed thirteen-page account of the “Tibet Improvement Party”, which wanted to bring about a “revolutionary restructuring of the Tibetan government and society. 1 August 2008
  • China: Towards Democracy or Fascism? China has not met even the minimum of requirements to qualify for acceptance as a democracy. 27 December 2007
  • Cinema and Tibet: A Brief Historical Overview We would have to consider Khyentse Norbu’s Phorpa (The Cup) to be the first proper full-length Tibetan feature film, the work of eminent lama Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche. 27 September 2004
  • Deconstructing Ngabo (in 1980) Since the politics of Dharamshala now seem to be a equally shrouded in mystery and silence as those of the most uncommunicative totalitarian nation, 4 February 2010
  • Don’t Stop the Revolution! Dharamshala’s hope, of course, is that if the crisis is stopped it could go back trying to negotiate with Beijing. In spite of all that has happened in Tibet our leaders completely fail to see that this will never happen. 5 April 2008
  • The Forgotten Anniversary This piece was written to remind Tibetans of the forgotten anniversary of our national revolution. All Tibetans need to be reminded of this, especially those who made it into exile. 27 December 2007
  • Freedom Wind, Freedom Song: Dispelling Modern Myths about the Tibetan National Flag and National Anthem The entire business of countries having specific “national” flags is in itself a fairly recent development, and a quite artificial one at that. 27 December 2007
  • The Girl and the Golok Chiefs An account by Lodey Lhawang, mother of Jamyang Norbu, of her family, and a family trip in Tibet about 1927 when she was nine years old. 27 December 2007
  • Grab that Torch! In Beijing’s case one important reason for hosting the Olympics is, without doubt, to rehabilitate its image; to reprogram people’s memories about the past. 16 April 2008
  • It’s not the economy, stupid! In spite of the unmistakable political message from Lhasa, there were attempts in the Western media to interpret the protests largely in economic terms – Tibetan dissatisfaction growing from the absence of economic opportunities. 29 June 2008
  • The Jewel in the Ballot Box: Electing a New Dalai Lama It is vital that we have a strong and unquestionably genuine democratic government that can unite all Tibetans to face and overcome such attacks on their religion and sacred institutions and ensure that the 15th Dalai Lama returns safely to his own people. 8 January 2008
  • Karmapa and the Cranes If we want to be non-violent, we should be so out of genuine moral conviction, not as a roundabout way to ingratiate ourselves with the Chinese Communist dictators. 28 May 2008
  • Make it a Burning Issue The world media has given the Tibetan immolations the absolutely minimum attention it is possible to give to a major news story, without actually opening itself to the charge of deliberately and cynically ignoring the issue altogether. 10 November 2012
  • Non-Violence and Non-Action This article seeks to point out to our leaders and friends that the complexities of human affairs call for a more eclectic and robust approach to the Tibetan problem than the current pacifist inertia. 27 December 2007
  • Rite of Freedom “When my turn comes to go on hunger-strike I have decided to make it more effective.” — Pawo Thupten Ngodup 27 December 2007
  • Silent Struggle Biography of Lhamo Tsering, Tibetan resistance leader, chief liaison officer between the CIA and the rebel forces, and Minister for Security at CTA. 27 December 2007
  • Some Memories of Great Lotsawa Gedun Chophel Memories by Lodey Lhawang, mother of Jamyang Norbu, of the great scholar and poet Gedun Choephel. 28 December 2007
  • Tibet’s Next Incarnation? By combining the power of the head of government and the head of state, as it appears to have happened in the case of the “Sikyong”, there has been a profound and fundamental change in the Tibetan political system — with no real discussion of the issue. 29 April 2013
  • Tibetan tales: old myths, new realities “None of us there had any doubts about the genuineness of the oracle. Perhaps it’s just that their days are over, and it’s another sort of world now.” 27 December 2007
  • The Wandering Goddess: Sustaining the spirit of Ache Lhamo in the Exile Tibetan capital The revival of Lhamo (Tibetan opera) in exile Tibetan society, and a history of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts 27 December 2007

Newspeak and New Tibet: The Myth of China’s Modernization of Tibet and the Tibetan Language

Reviews [3]

  • Acme of Obscenity Review of The Making of Modern Tibet by Tom Grunfeld: In the hate/propaganda genre there is a sub-class of publications, which through their authors’ skill in providing a superficial gloss of scholarship or professed objectivity to their work, render them capable of great mischief. 18 August 2008
  • Discussing Tibet, Without BS Review by Warren Smith of Jamyang Norbu’s China’s Tibet? Autonomy or Assimilation: The final result of the Tibet issue will be that Tibetans themselves will determine their fate, or they will be unable to do so. 13 August 2008
  • Made in China Review by Warren Smith of Jamyang Norbu’s Buying the Dragon’s Teeth: It is characterized by his usual superb writing style and should be read for its analysis of China’s human rights abuse alone. 1 December 2004
  • The Incredible Weariness of Hope Review of Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land by Patrick French: French’s failing is that he does not even allow for the possibility of Tibetan independence. All he does, in essence, is tell Tibetans to give up hope. 27 December 2007


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