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 has turned 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 began a new research project on Bhutanese Buddhism, in particular on religious and doctrinal identity-building and nation-building processes in eighteenth-century Bhutan, a remarkable period in Bhutanese history and Tibetan-Bhutanese political and socio-cultural trans-regional relations.
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.
Schwerk, Dagmar. 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. Forthcoming in Indian and Tibetan Studies. Edited by Harunaga Isaacson and Dorji Wangchuk. Hamburg: Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, University of Hamburg, 2020.
Schwerk, Dagmar. “Drawing Lines in a Mandala: A Sketch of Boundaries Between Religion and Politics in Bhutan.” Working Paper Series of the HCAS “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities” 12. Leipzig University, 2019. Leipzig University HCAS “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities.“ https://www.multiple-secularities.de/media/wps_schwerk_drawinglines.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1T-eL4ek_zzb3iN2erqbXeEIe4Bld2jL35vsIt_5q2kECtCTFHpLCuvM0.
Schwerk, Dagmar. “Buddhism and Politics in the Tibetan Cultural Area.” In Companion to the Study of Secularity. Edited by HCAS “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities.” Leipzig University, 2019. www.multiple-secularities.de/publications/companion/css_schwerk_tibetanculturalarea.pdf.
Schwerk, Dagmar. “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): 352–373 (peer-reviewed) http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/ret/pdf/ret_37_20.pdf