Janet Gyatso: "Looking for the Human: Buddhism and Medicine in Tibet"
Medicine and Buddhism have had a long history of interaction and mutual influence in Asia. Tibetan medicine preserves a large archive of writing on the theoretical foundations of knowledge of the body and professional medical ethics, along with one as one stunning and highly detailed illustrated encyclopedia. This material displays the ways the medicine drew upon religious thought and practice but also reached beyond Buddhism for new ways of considering human embodiment on its own terms and in light of everyday realities.
Janet Gyatso, Harvard University
Janet Gyatso is a specialist in Buddhist studies with concentration on Tibetan cultural history. Her books include Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet (in press); Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; and Women of Tibet. Her recent work has focused on the conjunctions and disjunctures between religious and scientific epistemologies in Tibetan medicine in light of cultural and political shifts in the early modern period. She has also been writing on sex and gender in medicine and in Buddhist monasticism, and on the current female ordination movement in Buddhism. Previous topics of her scholarship have included visionary revelation in Buddhism; lineage, memory, and authorship; the philosophy of experience; and autobiographical writing in Tibet. Gyatso was president of the International Association of Tibetan Studies from 2000 to 2006, and co-chair of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion from 2004 to 2010. She teaches lecture courses and advanced seminars on Buddhist history, ritual, and ideas, and on Tibetan literary practices and religious history.