Divergent Refugee and Tribal Cosmopolitanism in Dharamshala

  • Stephen Christopher Tokyo Metropolitan University
Keywords: Scheduled Tribe Dalit (STD), ethno-commodification, mobility, Tibetan diaspora, Gaddi


This article analyses the divergent, and occasionally overlapping, trajectories of Tibetan refugee and Gaddi tribal cosmopolitanism in Dharamshala, North India. In a place self-consciously branded as cosmopolitan, where Tibetan ethnocommodification is the primary symbolic currency, practices of inclusivity can broadly give way to Gaddi exclusions. Cosmopolitanism as an ordering ideology and set of intercultural competencies, often predicated on the dyadic relationship between Tibetan refugees and international tourists, propels Gaddi resentments and coarsens intergroup sociality. This does not mean, however, that Gaddis are forever consigned to tribal backwardness and reactionary forms of communal aspiration. Gaddis have forged an alternate, grounded cosmopolitanism based on cultural skills fostered through pastoral transhumance, seasonal labour migration corresponding with foreign tourists and ongoingethnopolitical redefinition of what it means to be tribal itself. By seeing past utopian propaganda and dystopian exaggerations about Dharamshala, a richer tapestry of group relations emerges which reveals divergent cosmopolitanisms in the promotion of shared struggles for state recognition and cultural preservation.

Author Biography

Stephen Christopher, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Stephen Christopher is a lecturer at Tokyo Metropolitan University. He is the Himalayas editor at the Database of Religious History at the University of British Columbia. Email: Stephen.Christopher110@gmail.com.


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