Ma Lihua

Ma Lihua
b. 1953, Jinan, Shandong
A prolific author on modern Tibet, Ma volunteered to work in Tibet upon college graduation in 1976 and has since called it her home. A long-time editor of Xizang wenxue [Tibetan Literature] and currently the vice-chair of the Writers’ Association of Tibet, she has played a critical role in promoting a new cadre of modern Tibetan literature-in-Chinese.
Ma began her creative career as a lyrical poet celebrating the natural splendour and the enduring human spirit of the snow land. She later added to her humanistic idealism a pronounced cultural-relativist strand and produced three volumes of essays documenting her field trips to rural Tibet and her reflections on Tibetan culture and society, all now collected in Traversing Tibet (Zouguo Xizang, 1994). The first of the trio has been translated into English as Glimpses of Northern Tibet. But her romanticism and relativism proved untenable as she had to confront the question of how the ‘enlightened’ intellectual can romanticize the ‘primitive’ Tibet when many rural Tibetans are struggling for survival and in dire need of modern education, health care, and economic development.
The second half of the 1990s saw her publication of a volume on modern Tibetan literature and another on the history of the scientific research of the Tibetan Plateau. She now oversees the Internet Xizangwang (TibetWeb) that fosters public awareness of Tibetan culture and society. Her life and work embody much of the ambivalence of Chinese intellectuals who work in Tibet.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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