Bollywood, Tibet, and the spatial and temporal dimensions of global modernity

Anna Morcom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While Bollywood is established as global popular culture, its journey into Tibet has been an idiosyncratic and complex one. Unlike the well-known manifestations of transnational Bollywood, in Tibet, Bollywood is not underpinned by an Indian diaspora or indeed Islamicate-based crossovers in the cultural and linguistic expression of romance. Furthermore, there is no legal import of Bollywood films or music into China's still protectionist cultural market, and zero attempts by Bombay producers to target China as yet.

This ethnographically-based article describes Bollywood in Tibet in live and recorded performing arts, analyzing in historical perspective the legal and illegal flows of people and goods, as well as other ties between Tibet and India and South Asia that drive this fashionable corner of Tibetan popular culture. This article also explores how Bollywood (and India) slot into the context of Chinese multiculturalism as an exotic and also erotic other.

The article as a whole highlights the historical as well as the modern forces of globalization, seeing the roots of Bollywood in Tibet as lying in ancient ties between Tibet and India and also Nepal, as well as in modern tourism and trade. This points to the fluidity of cultural topographies and trajectories in the pre-modern world. The article also emphasizes how far the globalization of Bollywood is due to specific regional and national issues, most notably, the nationalist project of the PRC which brought into being exile Tibet in India and Nepal as a kind of collateral damage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-172
JournalStudies in South Asian Film and Media
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009

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