Indiana University Bloomington
Choose which site to search

Carole McGranahan "Love and Empire: The CIA, the Dalai Lama, and Arrested Histories of the Tibetan Resistance Army"

On September 12th, 2014, Dr. Carole McGranahan from the University of Colorado, Boulder, gave a talk entitled “Love and Empire: The CIA, the Dalai Lama, and Arrested Histories of the Tibetan Resistance Army,” hosted by the Center on American and Global Security.

Dr. McGranahan explains that the history of the Chushi Gandruk (CG) resistance army and its role in the Tibetan Uprising of 1959 is largely unrecognized by the diaspora Tibetan community. The lack of recognition by the Dalai Lama as well as the wider community stems from a variety of reasons, including intra-Tibetan regional dynamics, contravention of the dominant narrative of Tibetan resistance, and the involvement of the CIA in training members of the CG.

During the 1950’s and 60’s, members of the CG were given extensive military and survival training in Colorado by the Central Intelligence Agency. Even at the time, the hope was primarily to “cause trouble” for the communist Chinese government, rather than secure actual independence for Tibet. However, in interviews, both CG and CIA veterans expressed mutual respect for one another, and CIA trainers made clear the personal importance of the CG’s resistance to them. Sympathy is a key aspect of humanitarian imperial ventures such as this, working to establish affinity and sincerity as a relation of power.

In 2010, the United States finally acknowledged the role of the CIA in training members of the CG. During a small ceremony, attended primarily by CIA and CG veterans and their families, heartfelt speeches were given on both sides, with the son of one CIA trainer saying “[my father] could not help but fall in love with you.” Since the ceremony, there has been a movement among members of the Tibetan diaspora community recognize the role played by the Chushi Gandruk in the Tibetan Uprising of 1959.

You can listen to our podcast of this event here.