I am pleased to announce the publication of Living Treasure: Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in Honor of Janet Gyatso (Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, Wisdom Publications): a new collection of 29 essays I co-edited with Holly Gayley to recognize Janet’s extraordinary contributions to the fields of Buddhist studies, Tibetan studies, and religious studies more broadly.
Table of Contents
From the Introduction
“Since her earliest publications in the 1980s, Janet Gyatso has contributed to the fields of Tibetan and Buddhist studies as one of the most creative and influential thinkers of her generation. Her academic writing covers a wide range of Tibetan and Buddhist thought and practice, including doctrinal and literary history, medicine and modernity, poetics and the arts—as well as theoretical issues in the study of religion writ large. Her initial doctoral research on the traditions of Thangtong Gyalpo (1361–1485) and writings on treasure literature (gter ma) and the practice of Severance (gcod) were followed by groundbreaking monographs on Tibetan autobiography and, more recently, systems of Tibetan medical knowledge. She is currently a leading voice in theorizing the literary dimensions of Buddhist writing as she engages in collaborative conversations around the influence of kāvya in Tibet and the practices and processes of translation. Her work exemplifies the marriage of philological deftness, analytical acuity, and intellectual rigor that has established novel lines of inquiry and inspired generations of scholars. In moving beyond traditional silos of academic exposition, Janet has not only opened up new intellectual terrain for exploration in the study of Buddhism and Tibet, she has also made them available to broad communities of readers.
Indeed, Janet has pushed the next generation to communicate beyond our areas of specialization and to engage more theoretically in substantive directions that matter widely across the humanities. As always, she led the way: bringing treasure revelation into conversation with semiotics, contesting Eurocentric notions of autobiography, exploring Buddhist monastic and Tibetan medical notions of the third sex, arguing for the rise of an early modern episteme in seventeenth-century Lhasa, and, most recently, tending to animal ethics within and beyond Buddhism. Across the decades, Janet has modeled an interdisciplinary approach to Tibetan studies that engages broader theoretical concerns in relationship to Tibetan religious discourses and practices. But not in the extractive sense of using Tibetan raw materials to distill into universalizing academic theories. To the contrary, the movement more often went the other direction, challenging the universality of Eurocentric claims and championing the sophisticated theories and rhetorical strategies of the Tibetan visionaries and cleric-scholars like Thangtong Gyalpo, Jigmé Lingpa, and Desi Sangyé Gyatso, whom she has admired and read so closely. Crucially, within the male-dominated textual tradition, Janet has always sought out women’s perspectives and the destabilizing presence of the feminine and non-normative genders.
The task we gave to the contributors to this volume echoes the call Janet has made throughout her career: to write in more theoretically sophisticated and broadly relevant ways. We thus encouraged authors to write in a creative, impactful manner that highlights a specific issue or problematic, to break new theoretical ground, or offer new research data, while remaining accessible to a broad audience—in particular scholars and students outside of Tibetan and Buddhist studies.”