Critical Methods in Tibetan Medical Histories

This paper addresses the development of scholastic medical traditions in Tibet through examination of lists of physicians. I consider debates that such lists and their accompanying narratives engender for Tibetan historians and reflect on contributions they make to the identity of the medical tradition. By examining the structure and content of classificatory methods in medical histories, I consider how temporally-organized lists document the place of medicine across time, geographically-organized lists document the reach of medical knowledge across space, and thematically-organized lists document the intertwining of medical knowledge and skill with other aspects of intellectual and civil life. In making these lists, medical historians painted a portrait of the Tibetan medical tradition that evoked connections to Buddhism and the strength and cosmopolitanism of the Imperial Period. Medical histories thus emphasize a picture of Tibet in the context of Asia more widely, a Tibet whose Empire lives on culturally or intellectually, if not militarily.

2007. Critical Methods in Tibetan Medical Histories. Journal of Asian Studies. 66 (2): 368-387.