5-8 October 2023

Barbara Gerke. Paper presentation: “New directions in Sowa Rigpa practice in post-pandemic Ladakh” at the 20th Conference of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS)South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany

7-9 September 2023

Barbara Gerke. Paper presentation: “‘Our loved-ones are being burnt alive!’ — Buddhism, Medicine, Pandemic Deaths and new Hospice Movements in Ladakh, India” at the 16th DDD Conference “Learning from suffering, fear of death and dying: New languages from sciences to the humanities” in Padua, Italy.

26-29 July 2023

Jan van der Valk (co-authored with Barbara Gerke) and William McGrath. Paper presentations at the panel: “Health, disease and epidemics: multidisciplinary perspectives on the socio-ecology of medicine in pre-modern South Asia” at the ECSAS 2023 in Torino.

20 November 2022
McGrath, William A. Paper presentation: “Outbreaks of Widespread Disease in the Catastrophic Prophecies of Tibetan Buddhism.” American Academy of Religion. Denver, CO.


3 July 2023
William A. McGrath
Fever and Heat Disease in Early Tibetan Medicine
Sichuan University Center for Tibetan Studies, China.

21 June 2023
Barbara Gerke and Jan van der Valk
Sowa Rigpa Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Material Manifestations of Protection and Treatment. Tibetan & Himalayan Studies Lecture Series, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

March 2023
Barbara Gerke delivered three guest lectures in Bhutan:

(1) at the Centre of Bhutan Studies, Thimphu: “Potency, Toxicity, and the Biography of Precious Pills”, organized by FWF project international collaborator Dr. Dendup Chophel

(2) at Norbuling Rigter College, Paro: “Setting up an NGO in Kalimpong, India (1995-2008): A Motivational Lecture for Students of Development Studies”, organized by FWF project international collaborator Dr. Tamdin Dorji

(3) at the Traditional Medicine Hospital, Thimphu: “Anthropological Approaches to Sowa Rigpa Practices involving Mercury”, organized by Dr. Jigme Sengey Drungtso


23 June 2023
Barbara Gerke, Jan M. A. van der Valk, and William A. McGrath
COVID-19 in Sowa Rigpa: Approaching Epidemics in the Texts and Practices of Tibet and the Himalayas. Pandemics, Epidemics, Academics. Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna.

Public outreach

15 January 2023
Gerke, Barbara, Jan M. A. van der Valk, and William A. McGrath Thinking about Contagion and Epidemic Disease in Tibetan and Himalayan Medical Contexts: Introducing the “Pandemic Narrative” Research Project. CoronAsur religion & COVID-19 research blog, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

In preparation for this project


27-28 October
Gerke, Barbara. Workshop presentation: “Sowa Rigpa Infectious Disease Etiologies, Buddhist Rituals, and COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance.” Faith in Immunity: Religion, COVID-19 Vaccines, and Structures of Trust, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (via Zoom).

8-9 September
van der Valk, Jan. Invited workshop presentation: “Tibetan Medicine and Covid-19 in the Anthropocene: Diagnosing the Spiritual Revenge of Nature.” Heroes and Villains in the Anthropocene: An Authors’ Workshop, St. Catherine’s College, University of Cambridge. Funded by the ERC project The Global Lives of the Orangutan.

3-9 July
Gerke, Barbara, William McGrath, Tawni Tidwell and Jan van der Valk. Panel Organization and Chairing “Responding to Epidemic Outbreaks in Tibetan Contexts: Medicine and Healing in Degenerate Times and More-Than-Human Worlds.” 16th IATS (International Association for Tibetan Studies) Seminar, Charles University and Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. Team conference presentations:

  • Gerke, Barbara. “Tibetan Spiritual Ecologies of Substances: The Anti-Epidemic “9-Compound Black Pill” (nag po dgu sbyor)”
  • Jan van der Valk. “The Emerging Sowa Rigpa/Environment Interface in the Anthropocene: Reflections on Pandemic Response-Ability”

McGrath, William A. 2021b. The Vase of Ambrosia: A Scriptural Cycle about the Black Death in Tibet. Asian Medicine 16 (1): 214–29.

McGrath, William A. 2021a. The Princess and the Plague: Explaining Epidemics in Imperial Tibet, Khotan, and Central Asia. Journal of the American Oriental Society 141 (3): 637–60.

1 December
van der Valk, Jan. “Tibetan Medicine and Covid-19 in the Anthropocene: Diagnosing the Spiritual Revenge of Nature.” Heroes and Villains in the Anthropocene virtual seminar series, Brunel University, London.


14 August
Craig, Sienna, Gerke, Barbara and Jan M. A. van der Valk. Blogpost: Asian Medicines, COVID-19 and the Politics of Science: An Unpublished Letter to the Editor of Nature. Advocacy Letters Series, Somatosphere.

23 June
Craig, Sienna, Barbara Gerke and Jan M. A. van der Valk (Editors). “Responding to an Unfolding Pandàçemic: Asian Medicines and Covid-19.” Hot Spots, Fieldsights.

Co-edited 18 essays, and authored and co-authored the following contributions:

4 February
McGrath, William A. 2020. Masks, Mantras, and the Black-9 Pill: Thubten Phuntsok and Tibetan Netizens on Coronavirus and Tibetan Medicine. High Peaks Pure Earth.