Digitizing Dharma: Computer-Mediated Mobilizations of Tibetan Buddhist Youth

By David Drissel.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Prior to the advent of the Internet, e-mail, and other information technologies, there was very little sustained communication between Tibetan Buddhist youth living in Chinese-dominated Tibet and their ethno-religious cohorts in the Diaspora. Recent years have witnessed a dramatic expansion of global networks linked to the Tibetan freedom movement, fueled in large measure by enhanced levels of computer-mediated interactions between Tibetan youth and sympathetic activists living in a wide variety of geographic locales. The role of the Internet and other information technologies in stimulating and facilitating cross-border political activism by Tibetan young people is explored in depth by this paper. The ways in which youth-based social movement organizations (SMOs) have framed the values, goals, and tactics of the Tibetan freedom movement in cyberspace are assessed. Computer-mediated discourses articulated by Tibetan teenagers and young adults who were mostly born and raised in the Diaspora - dubbed “Generation Exile” - are analyzed and compared to that of older activists in the movement. The subject matter of SMO websites and selected excerpts from blogs, social networking sites (e.g., MySpace, Facebook), and other online interactions involving Tibetans and interested parties are surveyed and evaluated.

Keywords: Tibetan Freedom Movement, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhist Youth, Computer-Mediated Communication, Generation Exile, Tibetan Diaspora, Great Firewall of China, Online Activism, Internet, Social Movement Organizations, Micro-Mobilization, Dalai Lama, Tibetan Youth Congress, Students for a Free Tibet, Framing Theory, Information Technologies, Social Networking, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Beijing Olympics, Tibetan National Uprising, Shangri-La

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.79-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 626.029KB).

Prof. David Drissel

Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, IA, USA

David Drissel is a professor of social sciences at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His undergraduate work included a double-major in political science and sociology and his graduate studies focused on comparative politics, international relations, and social change and development. Research interests include the global politics of Internet governance, transnational social movements, post-communist/post-socialist countries in transition, computer-mediated communication and society, youth subcultures and social deviance, and the utilization of interactive media and popular culture in mobilizing social networks. Professor Drissel is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has studied extensively in China and the Czech/Slovak Republics, among many other countries. He is an alumnus of the Oxford Roundtable in Great Britain, where he presented a paper on Internet governance. A frequent speaker and conference participant, he has had several papers published in various academic journals and compilations.


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