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The Efficacy of Collaboration: Tibetan Medicine Across Countries and Conversations

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First delivered as a plenary lecture at the ICTAM VIII congress in September 2013 in South Korea, this paper discusses two interdisciplinary and collaborative workshops focusing on Tibetan medicine (also known as Sowa Rigpa) in contemporary contexts. The first event, which took place in December 2011, brought together nearly 40 practitioners of Sowa Rigpa from the greater Himalaya and Tibetan regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), along with four anthropologists, for intensive, interactive discussions on pharmacology by making medicines together. The second event, which took place in October 2012 in Xining, Qinghai Province, PRC, involved practitioners, educators, and researchers from the Arura Group, one of the leading Tibetan medicine institutions in the PRC, with researchers from the United States, Europe, and TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) for in-depth discussions about integrative clinical research and the place of the humanities and social sciences in the study of traditional medicines. Both events were supported, directly or indirectly, by the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM), and abided in spirit with the mission of this organisation, namely, to bring scholars and practitioners of Asian medicine together for mutual exchange. While the Kathmandu event emphasised hands-on learning and the co-production of both knowledge and things, the Xining workshop provided Tibetan medical colleagues in the PRC with the opportunity to engage with broad discussions, at once methodological and epistemological, about the meaning, purpose, and aims of research on traditional medicines today.

Affiliations: 1: Dartmouth CollegeUS


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