Freitag, 05. April 2019, 15:15 - 16:45 iCal

Lineage, Renaissance, and Industry

Contemporary Tibetan Medicine in Eastern Tibet

Seminarraum 1 des Instituts für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien


A public talk by Dr. Tawny Tidwell | Postdoctoral Research Fellow, FWF Project on Potent Substances in Sowa Rigpa and Buddhist Ritual, Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna


This lecture introduces the contemporary development of pharmacological practices in Tibetan medicine in eastern Tibet, particularly across Qinghai and Gansu provinces in the Tibetan region of Amdo. Analysis of regional contemporary pharmacological lineages as counterparts to their historical antecedents demonstrates the emerging Tibetan medical renaissance in the region characterized by both modern innovations as well as traditional rigor in practice and training. Despite two decades of a rising commodification of health care in Tibet and industrialization of Tibetan pharmaceuticals threatening to untether Tibetan medicine from its attendant diagnostics, interpretations and treatments in a physician-guided professional setting, we see a moral economy develop that reaches deep into tradition. This lecture analyzes how notions of both tradition and modernity are shaping how Sowa Rigpa, the “Science of Healing” in Tibetan, participates in international corporate spheres, national political discourse, public consumer and mainstream medical contexts, as well as local integrated physician-patient relationships tied to regional lineages.


Tawni Tidwell is a Tibetan medical doctor and biocultural anthropologist, who joined the Institute of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies for the FWF Grant Project Potent Substances in Sowa Rigpa and Buddhist Ritual to analyze concepts of potency in the Tibetan medical canon and its proximal Buddhist ritual practices. She has recently completed a one-year postdoc with the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Social Anthropology (ISA) ERC-funded Project RATIMED (Reassembling Tibetan Medicine) that is integral to her ongoing work on pharmacological lineages in eastern Tibet. She completed her PhD at Emory University researching Tibetan medical diagnostic training methods, particularly for cancer and metabolic disorders. She completed her Tibetan medical studies at Men-Tsee-Khang in India and Sorig Loling Tibetan Medical College in Amdo.

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Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde


Judith Starecek
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
4277 43502