Yudru Tsomu (Sichuan University), " Rise of a Political Strongman in Dergé in the Early Twentieth Century: A Story of Jagö Topden"

Durée : 00:30:01 -Réalisation : 20 février 2016 -Mise en ligne : 20 février 2016
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This paper discuses rivalry for the throne of Dergé between 1890 and 1940. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, internecine feuds created a power vacuum serious enough to invite intervention from Qing and Lhasa authorities. To bolster the royal family’s position, the nobility not only sought alliances with the Qing and later with the nationalist regime in China, they also established close ties with Lhasa. But outside powers eventually undermined the royal family’s authority and lead to its downfall.

Feuding created an opportunity for subordinate headmen to vie for power. This phenomenon is well illustrated by the ascendancy of Jagö Topden, who emerged as the charismatic strongman in Dergé in the first half of the twentieth century. He displayed masculine qualities of a leader while Queen Jamyang Pemo was feminized as weak. Jagö Topden proved to be an adept player of politics and was able to gain popular support from the local population, who were tired of the instability. My paper explores the reasons for the crisis in royal succession, the culture of machismo, and the local network of alliances based on kinship and trade that enabled Jagö Topden to emerge as the paramount political figure in Dergé. The ascendancy of Jagö Topden exposes the precarious state of the King’s rule. Jagö Topden may have been aware of the ideological and social changes in China. He effectively adopted the populists’ cause of social reform and thus was able to wrest power away from the Dergé royal family and position himself as the paramount authority in Dergé. Had it not been for the victory of Communists and the establishment of PRC, Jagö Topden might well have become the new ruler of Dergé.

International conference “Territories, Communities, and Exchanges in the Sino-Tibetan Kham Borderlands,” Februray 18-20, 2016. This conference is an outcome of a collaborative ERC-funded research project (Starting grant no. 283870).

For more information, please visit the project's Website:


Langue :
Franck Guillemain (Réalisation)
Conditions d'utilisation
Droit commun de la propriété intellectuelle
Citer cette ressource :
CNRS – Service audiovisuel d'ARDIS (UAR2259). (2016, 20 février). Yudru Tsomu (Sichuan University), " Rise of a Political Strongman in Dergé in the Early Twentieth Century: A Story of Jagö Topden". [Vidéo]. Canal-U. (Consultée le 25 mars 2023)

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