Geoffrey Barstow

Advisor: Kurtis Schaeffer
Year Entered Program: 2008
Currently Pursuing: PhD
Current Status: Field Research in Kham
Educational Background: Hampshire College; The Center for Buddhist Studies at Kathmandu University

Research Interests

I am currently researching my dissertation, which focusses on the social and religious history of vegetarianism in the Kham region of Tibet.  While vegetarianism has never been the norm in any Tibetan region, it has occasionally become relatively widespread.  One such occasion began in Kham in the early nineteenth century.  Initially popular primarily with Nyingma practitioners centered around Degé, vegetarianism quickly spread across the region and across sectarian lines.  More recently, this flourishing of vegetarian culture has recurred in the region as part of the modern religious revival in Kham.  My dissertation analyzes the social and religious context that allowed and encouraged vegetarianism to flourish during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, arguing that the competitive and unsettled religious atmosphere of this time encouraged an emphasis on basic morality on the part of religious leaders and practitioners alike, as exemplified by the practice of vegetarianism.