Medicine and Religion at the Apogee of the Tibetan Buddhist State


ACLS Fellowship Program


Divinity School


This project researches the intersections between Buddhism and medicine in seventeenth-century Tibet. It looks at debates among Tibetan medical writers on the status of empirical evidence and its relation to traditional Buddhist forms of authority. It explores distinctive configurations of medical culture in new forms of the visual arts, writing practices, notions of sex and gender, and conceptions of experience. It considers the overlap between Buddhist ethics and medical ethics, but also ways that medicine claimed autonomy from religious culture. Most broadly, the project offers a set of reflections on religion, science, and the dawn of modernity, and how each of these pertain to the Buddhist civilization crystalized in the Fifth Dalai Lama's newly centralized Tibetan state.