Dagmar Schwerk studied Tibetology, classical Indology, and political science at the University of Hamburg’s Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies and Department of Social Sciences (Germany). Focusing on Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, in particular, Madhyamaka philosophy, she obtained her M.A. in 2012.

In 2017 she completed her Ph.D. in Tibetan Studies (University of Hamburg) with a dissertation on the reception history of the longstanding controversy concerning the Mahāmudrā doctrine and meditative system in the Bhutanese Drukpa Kagyud school between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular, she analyzed the Mahāmudrā interpretation by a renowned master from this school, the sixty-ninth Je Khenpo Gendun Rinchen (1926–97). She also first analyzed and made accessible records of the life and works of Je Khenpo Gendun Rinchen to a broader academic audience.

While at UBC, she will turn her doctoral thesis into a monograph (title: A Timely Message from the Cave: The Mahāmudrā Doctrine and Intellectual Agenda of dGe-bshes dGe-’dun-rin-chen (1926–1997), the Sixty-Ninth rJe-mkhan-po of Bhutan) and begin a new research project on Tibetan Buddhism, in particular on identity- and nation-building processes in eighteenth-century Bhutan.

She was the recipient of an M.A. and Ph.D. scholarship from The German National Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) and the Khyentse Foundation Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies in 2012, as well as a 2016 Dissertation Fellow of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies.

Before coming to UBC, she worked as a short-term postdoctoral fellow on a research project titled “Bhutan in Transition. Metamorphosis and Institutionalization of Buddhist Concepts” in an international and interdisciplinary research group at the University of Leipzig (Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies “Multiple Secularities: Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities,” http://www.multiple-secularities.de/team/dagmar-schwerk/).

Her research and teaching expertise cover Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan and Bhutanese intellectual, political, and social history—particularly between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. In her current research activities, she is especially interested in Buddhist conceptions of state, governance, social structure and civil society, as well as applied Buddhist ethics in secular contexts such as economics and education in Asia and the West.

  • “Buddhist Conceptions of Governance in Bhutan: Tracing Boundaries Between the Religious and Secular.” Working Paper Series of the HCAS “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities,” University of Leipzig (forthcoming).
  • A Timely Message from the Cave: The Mahāmudrā Doctrine and Intellectual Agenda of dGe-bshes dGe-’dun-rin-chen (1926–1997), the Sixty-Ninth rJe-mkhan-po of Bhutan. In Indian and Tibetan Studies, edited by Harunaga Isaacson and Dorji Wangchuk, Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, Universität Hamburg (forthcoming).
  • The Pointed Spear of a Siddha and its Commentaries: The ’Brug pa bka’ brgyud School in Defence of the Mahāmudrā Doctrine,” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 37, December 2016, pp. 352–373 (peer-reviewed). http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/ret/pdf/ret_37_20.pdf. Reprint: Ancient Currents, New Traditions: Papers Presented at the Fourth International Seminar of Young Tibetologists, edited by Franz Xaver Ehrhard, Jeannine Bischoff, Lewis Doney, Jörg Heimbel, and Emilia Roza Sulek. edition tethys: wissenschaft 1. Potsdam: edition tethys, 2017.

ASIA 311 Tibetan Buddhism (2018W Term 1)

The course provides an introduction to the religions of Tibet in general and particularly Tibetan Buddhism. The course focuses on the formation of a unique system of Buddhist practices and its history of the development of institutions, doctrines, rituals, different schools and literary practices. The course will examine the historical development of Tibetan Buddhism from the 7-8th Century to the present spread of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Whilst we will examine the subject chronologically, the course will also examine thematic issues, such as the establishment of institutions of the Trulku (Incarnate Lamas) and the Dalai Lama, monasteries and esoteric teachings.

ASIA 313 Tibetan and Himalayan Culture and Society (2018W Term 2)

The Himalayas — stretching from Northern Pakistan to Myanmar to China, with the Tibetan Plateau occupying a central position, have long captured the global imagination. The mountainous region has become a site of mass tourism and attracted academic studies in a variety of fields, from anthropology and religious studies to development and environmentalism. This course introduces ways of understanding the Himalayan region through interdisciplinary approaches in social sciences and the humanities. Students will explore the languages, history, ethnicities, and religious traditions of the Himalayas, as well as popular representations of them in the West. This course will also examine specific topics, such as the history and impact of trekking, mountaineering, and the imperatives of development and conservation.