Melvyn Goldstein

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Melvyn C. Goldstein
Born 8 February 1938
New York City
Residence Cleveland, Ohio
Citizenship United States
Nationality US
Fields Anthropology
Institutions Case Western Reserve University
Alma mater University of Michigan
Known for Tibetology

Melvyn C. Goldstein (born 8 February 1938) is an American social anthropologist and Tibet scholar. His research focuses on Tibetan society, history and contemporary politics, population studies, polyandry, studies in cultural and development ecology, economic change and cross-cultural gerontology.

Education and career[edit]

Goldstein obtained a BA with a major in history in 1959, and an MA in history in 1960 from the University of Michigan. He pursued his research in anthropology at the University of Washington and was awarded a PhD in 1968. In 1968 he immediately joined the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University as an Assistant Professor. He became an Associate Professor in 1974 and full Professor in 1978. From 1975 to 2002 he was the Chairman of the Department of Anthropology. Between 1987 and 1991 he was the Director of the Center for Research on Tibet, and is still the Co-Director. From 1991 he has been the Professor (on secondary appointment) of the International Health, School of Medicine.[1] He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (Section 51, Anthropology) in 2009.

Personal background[edit]

Goldstein is an American scholar whose research focuses on Tibet. His research has been described as "nuanced";[citation needed] while he portrays pre-1950 Tibet as "de facto independent", he also portrays the old state as a feudal theocracy.[2] His A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State was awarded Honorable Mention for the Joseph Levenson Book Prize in 1989 by the Association for Asian Studies, but was denounced by Tibetan independence activist Jamyang Norbu for having "little account of honourable service, sacrifice or courage", and for documenting events in Tibetan history Norbu considers "shameful".[3] He married the daughter of the famous Tibetan scholar-official-aristocrat, Surkhang Wangchen Gelek.[4]


Goldstein has conducted research in different parts of Tibet[5] (mainly in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China) on a range of topics including nomadic pastoralism, the impact of reforms on rural Tibet, family planning and fertility, modern Tibetan history, and socio-economic change. He has also conducted research in India (with Tibetan refugees in Bylakuppe), in northwest Nepal (with a Tibetan border community in Limi), in western Mongolia (with a nomadic pastoral community in Khovd Province) and in inland China (with Han Chinese on modernization and the elderly).

His current projects include: an oral history of Tibet, Volume Three (1955–57) of his History of Modern Tibet series, and a longitudinal study of the impact of China's reform policies on rural Tibet (nomads and farmers). He has just completed an NSF study investigating modernization and changing patterns of intergenerational relations in rural Tibet began fieldwork in 2005.

Honours and recognition[edit]



  • A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 1: 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State. University of California Press. 1989, ISBN 0-520-07590-0
  • The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet and the Dalai Lama, University of California Press, 1997.
  • (with William Siebenschuh, and Tashi Tsering), The Struggle for Modern Tibet: The Autobiography of Tashi Tsering, Armonk, NY: M.E.Sharpe, Inc. 1997.
  • Chinese Edition of The Struggle for a Modern Tibet: the Life of Tashi Tsering, Mirror Books, Carle Place, NY., 2000.
  • A New Tibetan English Dictionary of Modern Tibetan, University of California Press, Pp. 1200, 2001.
  • (with Dawei Sherap, William Siebenschuh), A Tibetan Revolutionary. The Political Life of Bapa Phüntso Wangye, University of California Press, 2004.
  • A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 2: The Calm Before the Storm: 1951-1955, University of California Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-520-24941-7.
  • (with Ben Jiao, Tanzen Lhundrup), On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet: The Nyemo Incident of 1969, University of California Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-520-25682-8.

Journal articles[edit]

  • "Stratification, Polyandry and Family Structure in Tibet," in Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 27, No. 1: 64-74, 1971.
  • "Serfdom and Mobility: An Examination of the Institution of "Human Lease" in Traditional Tibetan Society," in The Journal of Asian Studies, May 1971, vol. 30, issue 3, pp. 521-534.
  • "Fraternal Polyandry and Fertility in a High Himalayan Valley in Northwest Nepal," in Human Ecology, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 223-233, 1976.
  • "Pahari and Tibetan Polyandry Revisited," in Ethnology, 17(3): 325-347, 1978.
  • (with P. Tsarong), "Tibetan Buddhist Monasticism: Social, Psychological and Cultural Implications," in The Tibet Journal, 10(1): 14-31, 1985.
  • "When Brothers Share a Wife," in Natural History, March, 1987.
  • "The Dalai Lama's Dilemma," in Foreign Affairs, vol. 77, No. 1, January/February 1998.
  • (with Ben Jiao, Cynthia M. Beall & Phuntso Tsering), "Fertility & Family Planning in Rural Tibet," in The China Journal, Issue 1, 2002.
  • (with G. Childs, Phujung Wangdui), "Beijing's 'People First' development initiative for the Tibet Autonomous Region's rural sector — a case study from the Shigatse area," in The China Journal, 2010, Vol. 63, pp. 59-78.
  • (with Cynthia M. Beall), "Changing patterns of Tibetan nomadic pastoralism," In Human Biology of Pastoral Populations, Leonard and Crawford (eds.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 131-150.

Book chapters[edit]

  • "Adjudication and Partition in the Tibetan Stem Family," in D. Buxbaum (ed.), Chinese Family Law and Social Change, University of Washington Press, 1978.
  • "The Revival of Monastic Life in Drepung Monastery," in Goldstein and Kapstein (eds.), Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival & Cultural Identity, pp. 16-52, 1998a.
  • "Introduction," in Goldstein and Kapstein (eds.), Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival & Cultural Identity, pp. 1-15, 1998b.
  • (with Cynthia M. Beall), "Changing patterns of Tibetan nomadic pastoralism," in Human Biology of Pastoral Populations, Leonard and Crawford (eds.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 131-150.
  • "Tibetan Buddhism and Mass Monasticism," in Des moines et des moniales dans le monde. La vie monastique dans le miroir de la parenté (ss la dir. de Adeline Herrou et Gisele Krauskopff), Presses universitaires de Toulouse-le Mirail, 2010.


  • (with Matthew Kapstein (eds.)), Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity, University of California Press, 1998.



  1. ^ a b CWRU (7 January 2013). "Curriculum vitae of Melvyn C. Goldstein (Revised 1-7-2013)" (PDF). Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  2. ^ John Powers, History as Propaganda, 2004
  3. ^ Jamyang Norbu (July 19th, 2008) Black Annals: Goldstein & The Negation Of Tibetan History (Part I)
  4. ^ My China eye: memoirs of a Jew and a journalist, by Israel Epstein, p 277
  5. ^ Powers 2004, pg. 21
  6. ^ The Daily (14 May 2012). "2012 Hovorka Prize goes to world expert on Tibet—Melvyn Goldstein". Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 


  • Powers, John. History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China (2004) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517426-7

External links[edit]