Assistant Professor of Tibetan Buddhism Studies
Current research interests:
My primary research interests focus on the transnational, transregional, and cross-cultural aspects of Tibetan Buddhism during the Early modern period with particular emphasis on lineage, reincarnation, identity formation, knowledge transmission, and travel. My principal research goal is to explore and elucidate the hybridity of religion and identity in the wider Tibetan Buddhist world, that was in essence, highly cosmopolitan, multicultural, multiethnic, and multilingual. I am primarily a textual scholar who is methodologically invested in the ongoing discourses in Decolonialism, Transnationalism, Translation theory, Narratology, Oral Literature, and Literary theory. My research materials cover a wide range of textual genres of Tibetan Buddhist literature and Qing period archival materials composed in Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu, and Chinese.
Some of my leading research questions include: What does the multilateral transmission of practices and teachings reveal about the relationship between different Tibetan Buddhist traditions? How were the partial societies of monastic scholasticism formed and represented, spread as they were across and grouping together vast topographies of religious institutions, language, political administration, ethnicity, and practice? How do people form transcultural identities, and how do those identities change across time and space? What is the role of language in the translation, transmission and preservation of a tradition? How should we approach the study of archives and textual collections?
I am currently working on a monograph based on the research conducted for my doctoral thesis titled Mirror of Lives: Tibetan Buddhism, Lineage, and Identity in the Early Modern Period, which examines Buddhist literary works composed in Tibetan and Mongolian during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Mongolian monastic scholars were an inextricable part of the Tibetan Buddhist world and were amongst the most cosmopolitan and well-travelled individuals of their time. Consequently, their writings represent untapped goldmines for understanding the state of the wider Tibetan Buddhist world, as well as the religio-cultural interface between the various Himalayan and Inner Asian nations. These works continue to remain in large part untouched by academic inquiry. This book is an attempt to remedy this gap in knowledge in the field by elucidating and contextualizing their contribution to the wider Tibetan Buddhist World. Based on the data that can be mined from the texts consulted for my research to date, I am also laying down the groundwork for a collaborative digital humanities project that will result in an interactive resource which visualizes and maps transmission lineages of tantras, teachings and practices, and the interconnected biographical data regarding reincarnation and monastic networks.
My teaching interests are driven by my familiarity with and access to both the traditional and academic worlds of Buddhism, theoretical and methodological training in religious studies, and experience making and working with translations both philologically and as a translator. The topics I teach are rooted in the history, practices, doctrine, and culture of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition. The courses I teach range from introductory survey courses to more specialized lecture and seminar series on subjects such as Life Stories of the Tibetan Buddhist Traditions, Practice and Ritual, Medicine and Healing, Tibetan Buddhism and Indigenous Religions of the Himalayas and Inner Asia, and Tibetan Buddhist Legends, Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibet Mongolia Interface, Myths and Oral Histories. My teaching style is informed by the range of methods that I was exposed to in my own academic training, such as the traditional European philological approach, the Oxbridge practice of tutorial teaching, the mainstream UK model, and the North American theory-dominated framework.