Conference: MEDICINE AND YOGA IN SOUTH AND INNER ASIA: BODY CULTIVATION, THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION AND THE SOWA RIGPA INDUSTRY

01.08.2017 to 03.08.2017

Conference: MEDICINE AND YOGA IN SOUTH AND INNER ASIA: BODY CULTIVATION, THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION AND THE SOWA RIGPA INDUSTRY

Vienna, August 1-3, 2017

Co-hosted by the Dept. of South Asian, Tibet and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna and the Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Building on its historic strength in Tibet and South Asian Studies, Vienna has recently become an international hotspot for historical and anthropological research on Tibetan and South Asian medical and yoga traditions. Thus, there are currently four major international research projects working on topics ranging from South Asian longevity practices to the transnational Sowa Rigpa industry, from body images across Asia to Tibetan recipes, specifically of Precious Pills. This conference is organized collaboratively by all four projects to bring together local and international experts to showcase and further strengthen this collective expertise. The aim of this conference is to present and discuss historical, textual, and contemporary insights on the following key themes:

Longevity practices as a shared concern in South Asian medical, alchemical and yogic milieus: Longevity practices are described in a range of Indic literatures and seem to form an integral part of disciplines such as medicine, alchemy and yoga. We seek to examine in what ways and in which contexts longevity practices connect these soteriological and secular disciplines, and to explore how the various practices both reflect fundamental differences in aims and approaches between the different traditions and highlight their commonalities.

The emergence of a transnational Sowa Rigpa pharmaceutical industry in India, China, Mongolia, and Bhutan: How does a “traditional” pharmaceutical industry develop and function? What is the size and shape of the Sowa Rigpa industry in Asia, and what are its larger effects on local and regional economies, politics, environments, and public health? By exploring diverse aspects of the Sowa Rigpa industry, from the raw materials through pharmaceutical production to questions of identity and ownership, we aim to generate a new understanding of Sowa Rigpa and traditional medicine today.

Tibetan formulas explored through textual and ethnographic analysis: We want to discuss “biographies” of medicines (of Tibetan Precious Pills but also other popular formulas) and consider their textual history, ingredients, contemporary therapeutic use, their perceived socio-political, religious and medical efficacies, as well as their their contemporary production, knowledge transmission and therapeutic applications. Contributions should go beyond existing approaches of “things as commodities,” combining textual and ethnographic methods in a broad analysis of “biographies” of medicines and explore recipes that drive the Sowa Rigpa pharmaceutical industry today.

Images of the human being in Tibet and across Asia: Medical concepts give rise to and are built into certain frameworks embedded in cultural and religious contexts. Presentations will examine tensions arising from encounters between different frameworks, such as Buddhist and medical ideals described in the classical scriptures on the one hand and the reality of the diseased, suffering human being asking for help on the other. We will explore how conflicting biomedical and traditional concepts mutually stimulate and enrich one another, particularly in regard to their impact on patient safety and compliance.

The conference will address a wide variety of interdisciplinary contributions addressing textual, historical, ethnobotanical, and ethnographical aspects to all of these four broad topics.

Conference conveners:
Dagmar Wujastyk (ERC Starting Grant AyurYog)
Stephan Kloos (ERC Starting Grant RATIMED)
Barbara Gerke (FWF Lise-Meitner Senior Research Fellowship)
Katharina Sabernig (FWF project P26129-G21)

Conference location:
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde and Aula am Campus, Universität Wien Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien

© Ayuryog 2015 - University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.1 & Hof 2.7 (Campus), 1090 Wien