Introduction to "Frontier Tibet: Trade and Boundaries of Authority in Kham"

Stéphane Gros, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Geographical location of Kham. Created by Rémi Chaix, based on data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).

The contributions in this issue focus on the period from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, when this “frontier Tibet” [Kham] formed a middle ground in which local communities, the central Tibetan government (Ganden Phodrang), the Chinese imperial government (Qing), and later the republican authorities negotiated means of accommodation and established new institutions and practices. Against this historical background, the articles address questions of economic history, cultural interchange, and political legitimation and contestation at critical historical junctures. They show in particular how historical developments in trade and commerce are interlaced with notions of wealth and value, and linked to political control and authority. Together they bring new, ethnographically oriented historical studies into the arena of theoretical approaches to borderlands and corridors of contact...