Dear Guests and Speakers,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Gendun Chopel Centennial Conference and the Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library. This is the first international conference to be held here at the library, which opened in March of this year.
Gendun Chopel has attracted wide interest as a scholar, writer, artist, philosopher, charismatic adventurer, political figure, and controversial thinker. Trained as a religious man, he challenged tradition while steeped in it. He traveled widely and applied his broad mind and broad talents to a range of topics. He is often referred to as the first modern Tibetan scholar and takes center stage in the discussion, and debate, on what Tibetan modernity means.
Latse Library seeks to display the richness and diversity of contemporary Tibetan society and to provide a venue for its exploration and celebration. Gendun Chopel’s ideas and example have both inspired and challenged those who form contemporary Tibetan society, and those who grapple with its contours. I can therefore think of no topic more fitting to launch our conference facility.
This conference brings together academic experts, acquaintances of Gendun Chopel, artists and those with a personal interest to examine and contribute to the legacy of this extraordinary figure. You have come from all over the world to be here. The library is intended to be a forum for open inquiry and worldwide exchange on Tibetan cultural issues, for people from all walks of life and professional backgrounds. This conference is part of that exchange, and I am thrilled to see such broad participation. I can honestly say that the response has exceeded our expectations.
I would like to extend a special thank you to those who have shared materials for exhibition here at the library, which include many of Gendun Chopel’s personal effects, writings, and works of art. I am especially pleased to announce that we have on display here twenty-seven watercolors previously unknown or thought to have been lost. This special collection adds to the rich knowledge and experience assembled here, for what promises to be a fascinating few days.