The Newsletter 69 Autumn 2014

On top of the world

Jeff Kyong-McClain

Reviewed publication:
Harris, C.E. 2012. The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics, and the Representation of Tibet, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ISBN: 0226317471 (hb)

Clare E. Harris begins Museum on the Roof of the World by juxtaposing two striking quotes, one from a member of the British imperialist Younghusband Expedition of 1904, who declares: “Every Tibetan … ought to be in a museum,” and the other from a Chinese blogger in 2008, who threatens that the Chinese will put Tibetan culture in a museum, “if you [Tibetans] behave badly”. Harris’ point is hard to miss: for some British then and some Chinese now, museums were/are understood to be effective tools of control over the Tibetan population.