1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Mingyun Zhang


My dissertation research explores the interrelatedness between economy and religion on the Tibetan Plateau. I examine how contemporary Tibetan entrepreneurship emerges and develops against the backdrop of China’s Opening Up the West campaign, and how a younger generation of Tibetans (age 18-35) consciously navigate the labyrinth of ideologies and moral orders, and strive to cultivate ethical “selves” through their engagement in business. I especially focus on young Tibetans’ engagement in social entrepreneurship and the practice of common good, and explore the types of social ties that develop among them. I argue that entrepreneurship has become a new form of the sacred that unites people on one level, and differentiates them on another (e.g. by leading to the emergence of new elites) at the historical moment of China’s economic restructuring.


Global development studies, modernization and secularization, neoliberalism, conceptions of space and place, indigenous knowledge and cosmology, cultural transformation, mass media and social media studies.