Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Leiden University
Website URL
Buddhist Studies, Tibetan Studies, Social History of Tibet, Buddhism and Social Justice, Tibetan History
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am currently Junior Professor in Tibetan Studies at Leipzig University and PostDoc at Leiden University

Fields of interest and current research

My fields of interest include Tibetan Buddhist religion, literature, language, and history and how these affected and still affect Tibetan societies. My interests range widely from Tibetan oral traditions and folk culture (and religion) to Buddhist philosophy, social and legal history, and heritage studies.


My current research project (September 2016 – October 2021) is conducted in the context of a VENI grant (NWO) and focuses on the interchange between religion and law in Tibet (mid-17th century onward). In this study, I examine Tibetans legal texts in comparison with monastic ‘legalistic’ literature, with the working hypothesis that monastic Buddhist ideology has had a profound influence on legal thinking and language in Tibet. In this project, I also focus on the social and historical contexts and impact of the legal documents. As part of this project I am in the process of writing my second monograph, provisionally titled: The Silken Knot: Untangling Law and Buddhism in Early Modern Tibet.


Another research project I am involved in is an investigation into the phenomenon of the Buddhist storyteller (Lama Maniwa: Tib. Bla ma ma ṇi pa/ Bu chen/ Lo chen) in Tibetan societies. The age-old tradition of storytelling in public places using Tibetan painted scrolls appears to be dying out and the last known Lama Maniwa is nearly 80 years old and lives in Kathmandu. I am currently researching the background of this tradition and have interviewed this person and its links to other Tibetan oral traditions. I have also been commissioned to make a short film on this topic for the Ethnographic museum in Leiden. This film, The Last Buddhist Storyteller, was on display in the museum’s exhibition on Buddhism (from February 2016 to April 2017, camera and editing: Maarten Heijer) and was shown in the same exhibition at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. I am now working on a full-length documentary film on this topic as well as an academic publication.


In addition, I have recently finished a translation from Tibetan to English of a version of the Suvarṇaprabhasottamasūtra in 31 chapters (translated from Yijing’s Chinese translation), commissioned by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). The publication is now in progress.


My PhD dissertation (submitted November, 2014; defended February 24, 2015), The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-modern Tibet, focuses on pre-modern Tibetan monastic institutions and issues of social justice. This research concentrates on textual sources but is complemented by oral history based on fieldwork. The University of California Press has published a reworked manuscript as an open-access book:


Recent Publications
  • In progress: A Marriage of History and Ritual: Oral Recitations During Tibetan Wedding Ceremonies. In Nick Allen’s Commemorative Volume.
  • In progress: Buddhist Monastic Constitutional Law and State Constitutional Law: Mutual Influences? To be published in the Proceedings of the Buddhism and Constitutional Law workshops, Ben Schonthal and Tom Ginsberg, eds.
  • In press (2021): “From Philology to Social History: A Legal Decree from 1643: a Translation and Critical Edition.” (peer reviewed)
  • Under review (2021): Tibetan Legal Geography: Situating Legal Texts, Situating Tibet. IATS Proceedings. Buddhism, Law and Society.
  • In press (2021): “A Preliminary Investigation into Monk-tax: grwa khral/ btsun khral/ ban khral and its Meanings.” In When the Taxman Cometh: Tax, Corvée and Community Obligations in Tibetan Societies. Charles Ramble, Peter Schwieger and Alice Travers, eds. Leiden: Brill.
  • 2021: “From Sacred commodity to Religio-economic Conundrum: Tracing the Tibetan term dkor.” IATS 2019 proceedings. Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 57: 162-192.
  • 2020: “Ambiguity, Abolishment, and the Abyss: Buddhists’ Positions on the Death Sentence in Early Modern Tibet.” Journal of Buddhism, Law and Society 5: 59-87. (peer reviewed)
  • “The Origins of Tibetan Law: Some Notes on Intertextuality and the Reception History of Tibetan Legal Texts.” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 55: 221–244. (peer reviewed)
  • “Law and Order during the Lhasa Great Prayer Festival.” In: On a Day of a Month of the Fire Bird Year: Festschrift for Peter Schwieger on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Jeannine Bischoff, Petra Maurer, and Charles Ramble, eds. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute: 415–435.
Media Coverage
Country Focus
Tibet, Himalayas
Expertise by Geography
Asia, China, India
Expertise by Chronology
Expertise by Topic
Economic History, Indigenous Peoples, Law, Politics, Religion