School of Global Affairs Seminar
Tibetan Refugees Defending Indian Borders: Stories and Narratives of Retired Tibetan Soldiers of the Indian Army
Ru-Yu Lin,PhD Scholar,Institute of Development Studies- University of Sussex.
This talk will begin with asking: Why did Tibetans come to India and why they joined the Indian Army? What made the Tibetan monks and youngsters leave the monastery and herds joining the Chittagong and Kargil wars that are not theirs? How did three generations of political refugees who could own no properties survive and thrive in a nearly 60 years protracted displacement? The presentation is based on 30 life-stories of the retired Tibetan soldiers who served in the Indian army from the mid-1950s to late 1990s. It is an oral history project that began in 2016; the original motivation was to write down the stories of the first-generation refugee at various settlements before they perish. The talk will share the analyses of the generational and regional differences of why Tibetans chose to join the army, their experiences working and living in the army and fought in wars; also, how they went through the identity transfiguration and narrating roles to overcome hardships and justifying the sufferings. The narratives included in the talk are meant to deliver the voices and accounts of these “freedom fighters,” reflect the function of relationships, faith, and return the honour of their services, from the academic lenses of trauma, healing and performativity.
Bio: Ru-Yu Lin is a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; most people call her Iris. Her Sociology Master's thesis was an ethnography on the construction of national identity as a refugee in a charity school in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Built on that eight months fieldwork, she continued to work with Tibetans in three Rehabilitation and Resettlement Camps in Karnataka since 2013, mainly on the livelihoods and wellbeing of non-citizens in a non-state-dominant refugee governance framework. Her many years' fieldwork has so far taken the shape of a children's book in Tibetan, a few conference papers and one book chapter in English. She is a proud adopted daughter of a soldier’s family in Mungod, and she is from Taiwan.