By Alex McKay

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Rather the articles illustrate the wide range of contemporary academic understandings of Tibetan history and the many and varied means by which we may interpret the subject. Collectively, these volumes do represent a new, more worldly, understanding of Tibet; one which reflects the emergence of secular-liberal critiques of that society. There is less emphasis on the archetypal religious figures (such as Padmasambhava and Tsong Khapa), that have dominated earlier, Buddhist textual-based histories, and there is more concern with the wider movements within society, albeit that studies of Tibet in its wider regional context are sadly lacking.

As they reflect the still-apparent contrast between the European scholars' emphasis on careful philology and textual criticism and the New World scholars' concern for culture, identity and non-elite perspectives. This is also, with few exceptions, a history drawn by those working in the English language. With academic studies of Tibet appearing in a dozen or more languages, the latter restriction eliminates a considerable number of excellent studies by, in particular, French, German and Tibetan scholars.

Of growing importance is another journal, Lungta. Now published in Switzerland, this originated from the Amnye Machen Institute in Dharamsala, which enjoyed considerable intellectual influence among Tibetans and Western scholars during the 1980s and 1990s. The base for cultural historians such as Tashi Tsering and Jamyang Norbu, the institute pursues a liberal agenda with a nationalist element and has drawn further attention to regional and cultural elements of Tibetan history and culture. From the mid-1980s onwards, scholars were able to gain access to Tibetan regions under Chinese control.

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