The University is preparing to be the first American university to host the Young Tibetologists Seminar, an event that brings together young Tibetan scholars from around the world to exchange and share knowledge about Tibetan culture. The public is invited to attend the seminar, which will take place in August 2022, with detailed plans slated for release around February.
The International Young Tibetologist Seminar is organized by the International Association for Tibetan Studies and connects young people since the first edition of the seminar in 2007. Traditionally, the seminar is held every three years to bring together Tibetan studies researchers from different parts. of the world and has already taken place in London, Paris, Japan and St. Petersburg. The University has been announced as the host for next year’s seminar on October 11.
Although there is no physical building on the grounds dedicated to Tibetan studies, the University has a digital U.Va. Tibet Center and a Tibetan and Himalayan digital library for students interested in Tibetan culture. According to David Germano, director of U.Va. Tibet Center, IATS has supported by adding young blood to its traditional seminar series this year by holding a Young Tibetologist Seminar at the University as a sister project.
During the seminar, young academics will exchange their knowledge through presentations, round tables and workshops. Participants will focus on different components of Tibetan studies such as social sciences and humanities – including societal, religious, environmental and political aspects of the field – and will also talk about contemporary implications. Participants will also discuss the cultural ethnicity of Tibet which has been influenced by mainstream Chinese culture, civilization, literary and film studies.
“Different aspects of Tibetan studies are interconnected, [and] this connection is essential for understanding Tibet as a whole, ”said Germano.
According to Eben Yonnetti, organizer of student seminars and doctoral student in religious sciences, students interested in Tibetan studies are also invited to audit the seminar.
Typically, there are two keynote speakers at the seminar who are usually academics sharing their research. Researchers are divided into panels according to their areas of expertise. Before the pandemic, the seminar also allowed academics to reconnect with their international peers.
“I sometimes joke with my friend in Tibetan studies about how this seminar serves as a ‘regular meeting’,” said Jue Liang, Tibetan studies researcher and one of the organizers of the Tibetan youth seminar.
Geographically, ethnic Tibetans are spread across five provinces of China, including Yunnan, Qinghai, Chengdu, Gansu, and Tibet. However, as part of Chinese cultural diversity, Tibet uses a different language from Mandarin and also has its unique feature of religion integrated into social life.
“Although it may be different from people’s assumption, ‘Tibet’ according to Tibetan studies is more of a cultural concept,” Yonnetti said.
Due to travel restrictions during the pandemic, some of the goals of Tibetan studies have also changed. Yonnetti said he was able to study more contemporary issues such as new rituals emerging from the pandemic and even attend virtual rituals. However, he looks forward to being able to host the summer seminar in person.
“It’s a little weird if we have to do it virtually, because when held in Oxford and the Czech Republic, we could literally see people down the street and have a strong connection to other academics as a nobody, ”Yonnetti said. “But Zoom meetings don’t allow me to do that. Therefore, for our summer seminar we have lunch break, coffee break and weekend activities that allow our international academics to develop such connections for the same reason.
According to Yonnetti, organizers are intentionally updating information slowly due to uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, but are looking to release clearer plans for the seminar in February.
Germano also expressed his enthusiasm for the Young Tibetologist Seminar to be held in Charlottesville next summer.
“I think this is a great opportunity for young Tibetan studies researchers from all over the world to come together and discuss topics of interest to them,” Germano said.
The Young Tibetologists Seminar will be open to the public and details can be found on its website.