Before Self-Immolation: Tibetan Monks on the World Stage, Circa 2008

  • John Whalen-Bridge


Tibetan monks and laypersons protested throughout 2008 in the “Flame of Truth” campaign, shadowing the Olympic torch that was being passed from city to city. The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) organized this high-profile protest, which latched onto the publicity generated by the Olympics in Beijing. It got the world’s attention, but lasted only as long as the Olympics (“Tibetan Parliament’s Press Conference”). “Google Trends” provides a visual indication of worldwide interest in a given topic by representing periods of greatest interest as spikes in a graph, dating back to Google’s beginning in 2004. Search a term such as “Tibetan protest,” and the resulting graph will show when the term was most widely searched by Google users (See Figure 2.1).


Soft Power Hunger Strike Buddhist Monk Beijing Olympics Tibetan People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 5.
    See J. Watts’s “Hundreds of Monks,” 2008Google Scholar
  2. Hutzler’s “Reporters’ State-Led Visit,” 2008Google Scholar
  3. “Monks on the March,” 2008Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    For the argument that all people perform all the time, see Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    See Nhat Hanh’s Being Peace, 1987; Sulak, 2005; King, 2005; Moon, 2004; and Chodron, 2007. Robert Aitken-roshi cofounded the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in 1977; Aitken, 1996.Google Scholar
  6. 18.
    I have also benefited from reading Nau’s honors thesis entitled Killing for the Dharma: An Analysis of the Shugden Deity and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism, 2007.Google Scholar
  7. 23.
    See T. Norbu’s “Tibet: The Third Pole and the Himalayas,” 2013.Google Scholar

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© John Whalen-Bridge 2015

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  • John Whalen-Bridge

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