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Afterword: Why Kham? Why Borderlands? Coordinating New Research Programs for Asia


This special issue of Cross-Currents is dedicated to Kham, or Eastern Tibet, which, according to the European Research Council grant supporting these articles, can be called a “Sino-Tibetan Borderlands.” But why should East Asianists, including readers of this journal, care about Kham, and does it in any way help us to conceive of the region as a “borderlands”? The first question was on my mind in May 2015 as I participated in the first of two workshops devoted to Kham; the second was raised by rightfully skeptical participants—most of them experts on Kham—at the February 2016 conference in Paris that concluded this project. The two questions are related, I believe, and this afterword suggests that one possible answer to both lies in using local Kham history to push the boundaries of global borderlands studies. My goal is to argue for an approach that both frames the complexities of Kham for outsiders, including myself, and provides one (but certainly not the only) option for coordinating the diverse research agendas of Kham specialists...

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