Meet My Country: Bhutan, With Kunga Tenzin Dorji (Supe)
Season 2, Episode 1
Journalist and Musician Kunga Tenzin Dorji, known as Supe, talks about his homeland Bhutan – the landlocked country located in the Eastern Himalayas. Until the 1960s, the kingdom of Bhutan was isolated from the rest of the world. When Bhutan started to open up, it did not modernize blindly, as Supe points out. The tiny nation wedged between India and China was able to preserve its national identity, which remains visible in the country’s cultural heritage, and in its political and socio-economic systems.
3:50 The geopolitical realities of Bhutan and its national identity
6:43 The changes Bhutan has undergone since the 1960s and the role of the media
22:14 Bhutan’s main challenges and its infamous happiness index
19:26 Supe's recommendations for a place to visit, food to try, and what to read and watch
Your host: Denise Staubli, Program Manager, Asia Society Switzerland
Moderator: Simona Grano, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at the University of Zurich (UZH)
Speaker: Kunga Tenzin Dorji (Supe), freelance journalist and musician
Production: Denise Staubli
Phobjikha Valley – a spectacular wide valley in Bhutan at an elevation of 3’000 meters, where you also find the very endangered black-necked cranes
Ema Datshi – the national dish of Bhutan
Anthony Bourdains’ series Parts Unknown on Bhutan, who gives a good assessment of Bhutan
The History of Bhutan, by Karma Phuntsho
So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas, by Barbara Crossette, for a better understanding of geopolitics of Bhutan
The Circle of Karma, by Kunzang Choden, fiction and quite revealing about Bhutan’s society and culture
Asia Society Switzerland webcast A Closer Look at Bhutan with Kunga Tenzin Dorji and Dr. Simona Grano, July 1, 2021
Kunga Tenzin Dorji (Supe), a self-confessed jack-of-all-trades, is a freelance journalist who received the Jigme Singye Wangchuck Prestigious Journalism Award (2016). He contributes to various publications, writes scripts, narrates documentary films and hosts a talk show on Radio Valley 99.9 FM. He is also one of Bhutan’s best-known rock musicians and has acted in several films.
Dr. Simona A. Grano is Senior Lecturer at the University of Zurich (UZH) and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at UZH. She completed her Ph.D. in Chinese Studies at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy. She has held research positions and taught China Studies and Taiwan Studies at her alma mater, at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and at the National Cheng'chi University in Taiwan. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong and is a research fellow of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT), in Tübingen, Germany as well as a research associate of SOAS for the year 2021. Simona's regional expertise centers on the People's Republic of China as well as on Taiwan and Hong Kong.