Christopher Hiebert F'17
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies 2017
University of Virginia
Curricular Landscapes: Tibetan Scholastic ‘Commentarial’ Colleges (bshad grwa) and the Rise of Transnational ‘Modern’ Buddhist education in Asia
My dissertation examines the rise to prominence of Tibetan Buddhist "commentarial colleges" (bshad grwa) within the Nyingma sect from their beginnings in late-19th century Tibet to their current status as a distinctive and influential mode of transnational religious education. Utilizing a range of archival and historical sources, I will trace the development and standardization of the curricula of these institutions—and, indeed, the very category of curriculum—in light of their engagement with the shifting cultural, political, and economic landscapes of a range of Asian societies and state bureaucracies. Such an approach will illuminate how Asian Buddhists have drawn on “traditional” discourses, practices, and categories in order to contest, reshape, and create alternatives to modernist pressures and imperatives.