The THRU’s mission is to create an environment that promotes discussion among scholars taking diverse approaches to the study of Tibetan and Himalayan religions. Our identity and cohesion derive from the fact that we deal with a delimited geo-cultural space, but the intellectual excitement comes from the fact that we are specialists in different historical periods and cultural areas, from the fact that we are interested in a variety of religious traditions, and from the fact that we employ different methodological approaches to the study of religion. In particular, we encourage scholarship that approaches Tibetan and Himalayan religions through a wide range of approaches:
1. Multidisciplinary focus. We are committed to methodological diversity and to promoting scholarship that challenges the traditional disciplinary dichotomies through which the field has traditionally defined itself, such as text/practice, literary/oral, philology/ethnography, and humanistic/social scientific study. Presenters represent the disciplinary approaches of anthropology, art history and material culture, contemporary political relations, gender studies, geography, history (political, social, cultural), literary studies, medicine, philosophy, political economy, and ritual studies.
2. Transregional focus. We encourage a holistic approach to the study of Tibet and the Himalaya as a region, albeit a diverse one. One of the most important features of religious traditions in our field is the degree to which they are inextricably connected, and it is largely through the exploration of such interconnections that the phenomenon of religion in the Tibeto-Himalayan region can be understood. Such interconnections often cut across ethno-national boundaries.
3. Focus on cultural history in addition to philosophy and doctrine. In the last decade, the study of Asian religions has taken a dramatic cultural/historical turn. Nowhere is this more evident than in the study of Tibetan and Himalayan religions. A previous generation of scholars was concerned principally with elite religious institutions — and more specifically with their doctrinal/philosophical texts. Today scholarship is much more diverse. A new generation of scholars is concerned, for example, with folk religious practices, religion and material culture, the politics of religious institutions, the representation of Tibetan religions in the media, and the historical construction of the field itself.