Tsering Shakya

Born in Lhasa, ཚེ་རིང་ཤཱཀྱ།Tsering Shakya fled to India with his family after the Chinese invasion. He then won a scholarship to study in Britain, and was later to graduate from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with a B.A. Honours in Social Anthropology and South Asian History. He received his M.Phil. in Tibetan Studies in 2000 and Ph.D. June 2004.

Today, Tsering is a world renowned and widely published scholar, on both historic and contemporary Tibet. His most expansive work to date The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947 (Pimlico, London 1999) was acclaimed as “the definitive history of modern Tibet” by The New York Times, and “a prodigious work of scholarship” by the UK’s Sunday Telegraph. The book is the first comprehensive account of Tibet’s recent history. In researching the book Shakya interviewed many leading Tibetan politicians and drawn on numerous unpublished sources. Tsering was able to draw upon his unrivalled network of official and unofficial contacts in government, academia, religious circles and the media throughout Tibet and China, and across Asia, Europe and the U.S, including numerous, previously unpublished sources. The book received wide recognition and is now regarded as a standard text on the history of modern Tibet.

Tsering Shakya’s work relies upon relationships of trust and confidentiality built up over many years. In April 1990, Tsering was the Convenor of the first International Conference on Modern Tibet Studies, held at the University of London and attended by scholars from China, India, Europe and the U.S. He went on to teach at the Centre of Refugee Studies at Oxford University, England, and was later to become a research fellow in Tibetan Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University (1999-2002).

As an independent consultant and widely respected analyst, Tsering has addressed the European parliament and is regularly invited to advise Western governments on Tibet/China policy. As well as fulfilling various public-speaking engagements Tsering has, since the early 1990’s, contributed to many television and radio programs, both location documentaries and studio-based discussions. He currently works off-air for Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibet news service and on-air, every fortnight, presenting an international current affairs ‘slot’ on RFA, while also making regular appearances on the BBC and CNN.

Tsering Shakya’s published works include Fire Under the SnowThe Testimony of a Tibetan Prisoner (Harvill Press, 1997), which has sold over 400,000 copies in more than 20 languages. He was also co-editor of the first anthology of modern Tibetan short stories and poems, Song of the Snow LionNew Writings from Tibet (University of Hawaii, 2000). Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947, edited by Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya, (Serindia Publications, London, 2003) is a study of the relationship between senior British colonial officers and Tibetan elite as depicted in rare, previously unpublished photographs taken by members of the British Mission in Lhasa. Tsering’s feature articles have been published in numerous international journals and magazines, including Time and New Left Review. He is currently engaged in a major research project on the shift in use of the Tibetan language, and how contemporary literature is used as a voice of resistance in present-day Tibet.

Tsering is the author, here, of “The Waterfall and Fragrant Flowers: The Development of Tibetan Literature Since 1950,” and the translator of Dhondup Gyal‘s “Waterfall of Youth“.