Authenticity and Dependent Origination in a Portrait of a Tibetan Woman


  • Cameron David Warner Aarhus University




Portrait, migration, France, self, authenticity


This is an ethnographic portrait of Tsering, a Tibetan refugee who is seeking asylum in France under a false name, age, and marriage. The portrait is assembled and disassembled through employing three successive perspectives: first, second, and third persons. In sum, this multiple portrait challenges the notions of the relationship between selfhood and authenticity as Tsering asserts that her truest self is an inauthentic one, that comes into view when three factors emerge in dependence upon each other: being Tibetan, being a refugee, and being mutable. Tsering's articulation of her selfhood is compared to Buddhist notions of dependent origination in order to question when and how anthropologists of Tibet and the Himalayas utilize culturally derived explanatory frameworks such as “near concepts.” Finally, Tsering and her daughters' concerns for the ethics of their inauthenticity are viewed in light of Buddhist arguments for the relationship between dependent origination and compassion.

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How to Cite

Warner, C. D. (2023). Tsering: Authenticity and Dependent Origination in a Portrait of a Tibetan Woman. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 43(1), 131–147. https://doi.org/10.2218/himalaya.2023.8896

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