Lord of Men in the Land of Gods: on the Cosmo-Moral vision of a Tibetan King and the Limits of Qing Universalism


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation Travel Grants to China


History and East Asian Languages


This dissertation explores the religio-political vision of Polhané (1689-1747), the ruler who oversaw Qing expansion into Tibet. The integration of Tibet into the imperial administration is already a well-known feature of the dynasty’s westward expansion. But unlike scholarly literature which presumes that a monolithic “Tibetan Buddhism” as deployed by the Qing court was the linchpin between center and periphery, this dissertation contends that Polhané’s heterodox Buddhist thought and rulership was equally integral. An examination of his vision as it manifests in Tibetan, Manchu, Mongol, Chinese, and Italian sources betrays a cosmopolitan intellectual who confronts both Buddhist and imperial orthodoxy, and highlights the importance of centering the periphery in understanding the empire at large.