Published: Feb. 23, 2022

Emily Yeh's paper was awarded “AAG-Kaufmann Best Paper for Geography and Entrepreneurship” for 2022. 

Emily YehThe cultural politics of new Tibetan entrepreneurship in contemporary China: Valorisation and the question of neoliberalism


Over the past decade, new forms of Tibetan entrepreneurship have emerged and proliferated in China, at the intersection of a national push for entrepreneurship in response to a slowing economy, the closure of non-governmental organisations in Tibetan areas, declining state-sector employment, and state concerns about stability. This paper explores the rise of these new Tibetan entrepreneurs in relation to two inter-related concerns. First, it contributes to geographers’ calls for comparative studies of culturally specific meanings of entrepreneurship across the Global South. It explores the cultural politics of Tibetan entrepreneurship – active debates about what it means to be a proper Tibetan, in terms of religious commitments and cultural pride, in relation to money-making activities. Second, it analyses these in relation to critiques of neoliberal subjectivities associated with entrepreneurship. One of the key themes of Tibetan entrepreneurship is the effort to create economic value in the service of cultural value and a sense of self-worth for Tibetans living in rural areas. Thus, elements of the neoliberal self are sutured together with a sense of responsibility to Tibetan communities and historically sedimented idioms to form an entrepreneurial subjectivity that is broadly oriented to the project of revalorising Tibetan places and people.

Emily T. Yeh 2022. “The cultural politics of new Tibetan entrepreneurship in contemporary China: Valorisation and the question of neoliberalism”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 47(1): 139-152.

Thanks to a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the AAG announced two annual awards for promising research studying geography and entrepreneurship: one for best paper and one for best student paper. The purpose of this award program is to identify innovative research in business, applied or community geography that is relevant to questions related to entrepreneurs and their firms as well as to practitioners and policymakers. Research that has direct practical implications and that addresses pressing environmental, economic and/or social problems is especially appropriate for these awards. The awards will be presented at the AAG Annual Meeting.


Two awardees receive a check for $1,500, complimentary meeting registration, and a complimentary ticket to the AAG Awards Luncheon. The runner up for each award will receive complimentary registration and a complimentary ticket to the AAG Awards Luncheon. Award winners and runners up will be invited to present their research in a session highlighting geography and entrepreneurship.