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Tibet: The Washington Perspective

Official US policy toward Tibet has been indifferent at worst and equivocal at best. Although this policy appears to be changing under pressure from the US Congress and other governments, Tibet in the eyes of the State Department remains somewhat of a bothersome orphan whose demands for attention are more trouble that they are worth. In September, when the Dalai Lama visited Washington as a guest…

Tibet: An Introduction

The foreword of the recent Highlights of Tibetan History, a history of Tibet written by Wang Furen and Suo Wenqing and published in Beijing with a view to convincing the world that Tibet has always been part of China, shows in the first line the confusion that is causing so much trouble: "The Tibetans, a nationality of the Chinese nation." How can a people be "one of the nationalities of a nation…

The Persistence of Traditional Medicine in the Modern World

Traditional medicine has been gradually forced underground in many societies due to pressure from missionaries and governments who perceived such practices as witchcraft. Contrary to those beliefs, however, traditional medicine has proven to be quite effective in treating both chronic diseases and psychological problems, especially those associated with stress, which frequently stem from social…

The Monastery as a Medium of Tibetan Culture

The Buddhist monastery has traditionally served as a primary locus for the generation and preservation of Tibetan culture, both material and intellectual. That function of the monastery has been gravely threatened by the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 and the subsequent oppression and destruction during the periods of "liberation" and of the Cultural Revolution. After a brief period of modest…

The Legal Status of Tibet

Recent events in Tibet have intensified the dispute over its legal status. The People's Republic of China (PRC) claims that Tibet is an integral part of China. The Tibetan government-in-exile maintains that Tibet is an independent state under unlawful occupation. The question is highly relevant for at least two reasons. First, if, Tibet is under unlawful Chinese occupation, Beijing's legal-scale…

The Hagahai: Isolation and Health Status in Papua New Guinea

The Hagahai are a recently contacted group of seminomadic hunter-horticulturalists living in the fringe highlands of Madang Province in Papua New Guinea. Although occasional explorers and miners probably walked through their territory in the Schrader Mountains as early as the 1930s and several attempts were made to census them during the 1970s, the Hagahai effectively remained hidden from mission…

The Chinese View of Tibet - Is Dialogue Possible?

During my first trip to China, in the summer of 1978, I was often surprised by how profoundly what the individual sees is influenced by the circle of meaning through which he or she unconsciously interprets events. As a student of rural China and its recent process of collectivization, I was, for instance, enthralled by my first sight of the Chinese countryside. But as our Japanese-made bus…

Reflections on a Riot

The sharp crack of bullets, fired to suppress Tibetan unrest, is not an unusual sound in Tibet; but it is unusual for tourists to hear them, as hundreds like firecrackers or little explosions coming from the overturned, burning police jeeps. Then came the screams, panic, people limping off and children being carried away by their parents. The series of demonstrations began on September 27, when…

Hmong Relocated in Northern Thailand

In 1982, the government of Thailand proposed a new, highly structured program for hill tribe peoples to bring the hill tribes under political control. The total number of tribal people in Thailand is estimated conservatively at 500,000 (Thailand, Division of Development and Public Welfare 1982), although the press has recently quoted estimates as high as 700,000-1,000,000. The Royal Forest…

An Outline of Tibetan Culture

Anyone who knows the Tibetan language and has firsthand experience of Tibetan people knows the utter distinctness of the Tibetan culture. But to demonstrate this fact it is helpful to think back to ground principles. What is a "national culture"? A nation is more than a state, which is more than a tribe, which is more than a clan, which is more than a family. The only common political unit larger…

Hmong Refugees and the US Health System

Although many Americans would prefer to forget about the Vietnam conflict, many of today's controversial issues stem from that era. One of these issues is the increased Southeast Asian refugee population in the U.S. One of the major problems refugees face upon their arrival to this country is conflict with the US medical system. This conflict arises from misunderstanding and mistrust from both…

A Chinese Press Conference on Tibet

The 13th National Congress of the Communist party of China opened in Beijing on 25 October 1987. During the period of time the congress was in session, televised press conferences were held, attended by both foreign and domestic correspondents. On the night of October 31, the subject of the press conference was the situation in Tibet. As an eyewitness to the demonstration in Lhasa on October 1…

Health Care Among the Culina, Western Amazonia

The Culina village of Moranaua sits on a ridge overlooking the upper Purus River in the state of Acre, western Brazil, near the Peruvian frontier. Relatively isolated, with only occasional outside contact from passing boats, the population at Maronaua enjoys wider access to game and horticultural land than do other Culina villages on the Purus or the Envira rivers. This relative isolation and…

The FUNCOL Program for Primary Health Care, Colombia

In January 1984 I visited two indigenous communities in the Llanos area of eastern Colombia and prepared an evaluation of the primary health care program sponsored by the Foundation of Colombian Communities (FUNCOL). The report outlined the objectives and organization of the program and assessed its effectiveness. The overall conclusion was that the program had been well accepted and was…

Health Care Among the Ngawbere in Panama

The implementation of a health post infrastructure in rural Panama from 1972-1973 onward began to fulfill a long-felt need for adequate medical care among Ngawbere. The implications of government control have left Ngawbere cautious about who is "in charge" of their health care needs. First to receive help with the infrastructure were Ngawbere in Bocas del Toro Province, who have been more…

Primary Health Care: A Papua New Guinea Example

In 1978 the Alma-Ata conference on Primary Health Care inspired a revolution in international health policy by endorsing primary health care (PHC) as the official policy of the World Health Organization (WHO). Noting deplorable health conditions among the world's poor, especially the rural poor, the Alma-Ata declaration stressed the urgent need for a reallocation of health-related expenditures in…