In this talk, Dr. Dagmar Schwerk presents the work-in-progress of her current research project, an investigation into identity- and nation-building in eighteenth-century Bhutan
In this talk, Dr. Dagmar Schwerk presents the work-in-progress of her current research project, an investigation into identity- and nation-building in eighteenth-century Bhutan. Focusing on the identity and agency of Bhutanese Buddhist masters as important intermediaries in Bhutan’s entangled and turbulent history with Tibet, her research is centred around the joint Bhutanese-Tibetan travels of the Ninth rJe-mKhan-po of the Bhutanese ’Brug-pa bKa’-brgyud school, Shākya Rin-chen (1710–59) to Tibet under the supervision of the Second Dre’u-lhas-sprul-sku Grub-dbang Kun-dga’-mi-’gyur-rdo-rje (1721–69).
Dr. Schwerk’s interdisciplinary research design combines historical-philological methods by analyzing a thus far untranslated corpus of diverse Bhutanese and Tibetan primary sources, such as legal codes and historiographical works; life-writings; and doctrinal works, with a theoretical framework from religious studies focusing on identity and social differentiation between the societal spheres of religion, politics, and law. As a result, this approach enables us to understand and describe the decisive fourfold and multidimensional relationship between religious-doctrinal identity, socio-cultural identity, identity policies, and nation-building in Bhutan at that time. Dr. Schwerk will introduce examples and relevant aspects of her methodologies and textual sources.
More broadly speaking, her research aims to demonstrate how the eighteenth century represents a critical juncture in Bhutanese religious and political history that enables a novel understanding of Bhutan today, particularly of its Buddhism-induced, sustainable development model of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
Moreover, to elicit a fruitful discussion and to also invite questions of a comparative and/or theoretical character with scholars and students from various backgrounds present at the TGSS, Dr. Schwerk will place her case study of Bhutan as a unique example of a non-Western development path in the broader context of Tibetan and Himalayan history and research.