(2006) JLP 53-54: 77-99




Fernanda Pirie




The dominating nature of the legal and judicial control exercised by the Chinese government over the Tibetan pastoralists of Amdo masks a host of complex relations by which they maintain order. Rather than analysing the relations between them in terms of domination and resistance, it is suggested that there is both adaptation and resistance among the pastoralists to the new normative landscape and both acceptance and avoidance by them of new structures of authority. The two do not coincide and the issues of norms and authority must be kept separate in order to explain why the pastoralists rely on government officers to determine boundaries and prevent conflict, on the one hand, while regarding them as without authority to resolve their feuds, on the other. Moreover, in adjusting to the government of the Chinese state the pastoralists do not always pursue their political interests, rather allowing their responses to be shaped by fundamental ideas about the nature of order and the sources from which it can and should be sought.