Translating Tibet in the Borderlands: Networks, Dictionaries, and Knowledge Production in Himalayan Hill Stations

Emma Martin


British India’s imperial projects took a “Tibetan turn” in the hill-stations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in the late nineteenth century. These small, tightly packed places were global pinch points that offered a multitude of people, including British officers, Scottish missionaries, explorers from Japan, Germany, Mongolia, and plains India, Ukrainian spiritual seekers, and monastic scholars from across Tibet and the Himalayas, an opportunity to collaborate. By using the products of these scholarly encounters—namely the turn of the century volumes written in Darjeeling on the subject of Tibet—it is possible to trace out a series of entangled networks active in these spaces. It also becomes clear that the business of translating Tibet was not necessarily done in Tibet itself, but in the borderlands of British India, a process made possible by highly mobile people who had travelled and lived in this otherwise “out of bounds” place.


Tibet; Knowledge Production; Darjeeling; Kalimpong; Scholarly Networks; Philology

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