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Despite the influence of commodity exchange within Tibetan society, its historical processes are rarely to be found in “event history.” Commerce and Communities: Social and Political Status and the Exchange of Goods presents a collection of studies on various historically documented modes of exchanging goods in Tibetan societies, their evolution over time, and their impact on the status of the actors involved, be they individuals, social groups or political entities.
The contributions to this volume explore the theme of exchange not only from the perspectives of trade, monetary value, and economy; it also takes into consideration the religious, administrative, diplomatic and political aspects that are intertwined in the exchange of gifts and in trade activities. These perspectives are combined in their attempt to fill certain lacunae in the economic history of Tibetan societies, as well as furthering our knowledge of Tibetan social history during the period of the Ganden Phodrang government (1642–1959).
The volume covers not only a broad spectrum of perspectives on the exchange of goods, but also a wide range of Tibetan societies: the geographical scope of this volume extends from the Central Tibetan area to the eastern Tibetan-Chinese borderlands and the former Himalayan kingdom of Nepal.
Alice Travers is a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), in the East Asian Civilisations Research Centre (CRCAO), Paris, where she currently works on the social history of traditional Tibet in the 19th and 20th centuries and on the history of the Ganden Phodrang army (17th–20th c.). She has written her PhD dissertation and several published articles on the Tibetan aristocracy, the careers of officials in the Ganden Phodrang administration, the intermediate/middle classes of Central Tibet, and military history from a legal perspective.
Jeannine Bischoff is a doctoral student at the Department of Mongolian and Tibetan Studies of the University of Bonn. Her research focuses on Tibetan administrative documents concerning the rural communities attached to Kundeling monastery, in Central Tibet, before 1959.