An interview with
Position & Affiliation: Director of Research in Paris at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
Date: July 17, 2019 in Paris, France // January 18, 2020 in London, United Kingdom
Interviewed by: Anna Sehnalova
Cite this archive
- 0:00 Intro
- 0:42 Where were you born, where do you come from, how do you remember growing up?
- 8:15 Do you sometimes go back to France?
- 10:32 Can you also say something about your education in the Congo?
- 13:28 Why did you decide to go to university and what were your reasons to continue your studies?
- 16:07 What brought you to Nepal when you were 17?
- 19:50 When did you switch to Tibetan?
- 20:52 Do you have some other important teachers?
- 27:30 Getting to know Gene Smith
- 31:56 In which ways did the teachers in Tibetan studies influence you?
- 36:46 When you took classes in Paris, what did they look like?
- 38:19 Do you remember Anne Chayet?
- 42:54 How do you remember Ariane MacDonald?
- 44:50 Did you have some important classmates?
- 47:19 How did you study Tibetan? Did you have classes in Tibetan language as a student?
- 49:45 How did your PhD start and how did it go?
- 58:53 How did you get to Bhutan?
- 1:14:11 What were your feelings when you first arrived?
- 1:16:20 You mentioned that when you first arrived in 1981, there were four foreigners, who were they?
- 1:18:38 What made you spend all your life in Bhutan?
- 1:19:22 You did your PhD and then what was next?
- 1:22:11 What were your different responsibilities? Were you employed both in Bhutan and France?
- 1:28:13 How many students did you teach?
- 1:38:02 Can you say more about this program?
- 1:44:15 Were there some other foreigners besides yourself involved in the higher education in Bhutan?
- 1:46:34 Can you say something about your training the tourist guides?
- 1:49:32 Could you say more about the National Library of Bhutan?
- 1:50:37 Could you say something about your work in the Rubin Museum?
- 1:55:03 Can you say a bit about being an ethnographer and anthropologist?
- 1:56:34 How have you been observing the changes in Bhutan?
- 2:02:06 What does these changes mean for your research?
- 2:03:04 Can I ask you how you got your Tibetan name?
- 2:04:53 Were all your work on Bhutan you have been awarded the price for the order of merit. Can you say something about it?
- 0:00 Intro
- 0:27 Could you say something about your PhD?
- 4:03 Why did you consider the ethnographic side of your study important?
- 5:09 Before your PhD, you took part in the first IATS meeting in Oxford in 1979. How do you remember it?
- 10:51 Did you present your work on Ladakh?
- 11:46 Why did you choose this topic?
- 12:19 You mentioned Tibet, were you ever able to work in Tibet or when did you first visit Tibet?
- 13:13 How do you remember Tibet in the 1980s & 90s?
- 15:37 How has your career after your PhD developed?
- 18:34 You also started working in France, and teaching in France?
- 19:20 You mentioned the book you wrote on the resource book on Bhutan, can you say something about it?
- 21:29 How do you reflect Himalayan or Tibetan-Himalayan or Bhutanese studies in Bhutan, their development on their own studies of the Bhutanese?
- 26:20 What kind of developments do you see in French academia?
- 29:43 Is it women in French academia would be more present in general or is it also the field of Himalayan or Tibetan studies has attracted women?
- 31:24 Did you feel it in other environments apart from France?
- 32:58 How was it in Bhutan being a woman?
- 35:13 How have the changes in Bhutan during the last decade effected research? What does it mean for ethnographers or researchers that Bhutan is opening up, building its own academia?
- 38:37 When you were teaching in Bhutan, in which language did you teach?
- 40:26 You also have had a diplomatic function, which is unusual for an academic. I think you have been acting as a representative for Bhutan in France?
- 41:28 Throughout your career, how have you been reflecting on the changing theoretical approaches to Tibet and the Himalayas? Or the development of our understanding of Tibet and Himalayas?
- 46:28 During this development, how did you also see the changes of the IATS meetings that occurred since the first one?
- 51:46 What were your other experiences of being an organiser of the IATS in Paris? How was it to organise such a large thing?
- 54:53 Can you say who were the other people on the team?
- 57:38 There was also a very Bhutanese presence? Maybe for the first time?
- 58:30 From the previous IATS Meetings, are there one or two that you particularly remember that are important for you?
- 1:01:04 What has your career in Himalayan and Bhutanese studies given you?
- 1:02:04 During your work, what did you find the most interesting and the most challenging?
- 1:03:51 What do you see as your most significant contributions academically?
- 1:06:56 What would you still like to pursue?
- 1:08:19 As you know, we are conducting this for future people, would you have a message for them?
a) Ouvrages 1982: Thimphu Tshechu Festival, Dept of Tourism, Bhoutan (sous le pseudonyme de Tashi Wangmo).
1983: Paro Tshechu Festival, Dpt of Tourism, Bhoutan (sous le pseudonyme de Tashi Wangmo).
Wangdiphodrang festival, Dpt of Tourism, Bhoutan. Jampey Lhakhang festival, Dpt of Tourism, Bhoutan.
Carte historique du Bhoutan (en collaboration avec le Service Géographique et le Departement de l’Education du Bhoutan).
Les revenants de l’au-delà dans le monde tibétain, Editions du CNRS, Paris. Prix Delalande Guérineau 1990 de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
1997 Bhutan: Mountain-fortress of the Gods, C. Schicklgruber & F. Pommaret (eds.), Serindia, London.
1998 Les revenants de l’au-delà dans le monde tibétain, Editions du CNRS, Paris, (réed.). 1998 Bhutan: encuentro con los dioses en el Himalaya, Fundacio “La Caixa”, Barcelona.
2010 Les revenants de l’au-delà dans le monde tibétain, Editions du CNRS, Paris, (réed.).
2014 Parlons Dzongkha, avec George Van Driem et Karma Tshering, Paris: l’Harmattan.
1980: “The construction of Ladakhi houses in the Indus Valley” in Tibetan studies in honour of Hugh Richardson, Aris and Philips, Warminster, 249–255.
1983: “Auspicious symbols and luminous colours: the art and architecture of Bhutan” in Asian Culture, Bulletin of the Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO, n° 35, 30–35.
1987: “Le monastère de gTam zhing (Tamshing) au Bhoutan central” in Arts Asiatiques, tome XLII, 1987, 19–30 (en collaboration avec Y. Imaeda).
1989: “A rainbow of colours. Notes on the symbolism of colours in Bhutan”, in Asian Pacific Culture, Tokyo, 1989, 7–9 (en collaboration avec Mynak Rinpoche).
1990: “Note sur la situation linguistique du Bhoutan et étude préliminaire des termes de parenté” in Indo-Tibetan Studies, London, 1990, 115–127 (en collaboration avec Y. Imaeda). 1992 “Les revenants de l’au-delà (‘das log): sources littéraires et tradition vivante, une première présentation”, in Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the 5th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Narita 1989, Naritasan Shinshoji, 1992 vol. 2, 673- 686. “Introduction to the interest and problems of Bhutanese iconography” in Buddhist Studies: Present and Future, UNESCO, Paris, 1992, 46–49.
- “Les fêtes aux divinités-montagnes Phyva au Bhoutan de l’Est”, in Tibetan studies: Proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International association for Tibetan Studies Fagernes 1992, The Institute for comparative research in human culture, Oslo, 1994, vol. 2, 660–669.
- “Textiles of Bhutan: way of life and symbol of identity” in Bhutan: aspects of culture and development, M. Hutt & M. Aris (eds), Kiscadale Asia Research series n°5, Gartmore, 1994, 173–189.
-” ‘Entrance-keepers of a hidden country’: Preliminary notes on the Monpa of south-central Bhutan”, in Tibet Journal, Special issue: Powerful places and spaces in Tibetan religious culture (ed.) T. Huber, vol.19, n°3, 1994, New-Delhi, 46–62.
1994 “Bhutan and its neighbors” avec Diana K. Myers in From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan, Serindia — Peabody Essex Museum, London-Salem, 1994 (Eds. D.K. Myers, M. Aris & S. Bean) 47–70.
1994 “The fabric of Life in Bhutan (avec Diana K. Myers) in From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan, Serindia — Peabody Essex Museum, London-Salem, 1994 (Eds. D.K. Myers, M. Aris & S. Bean) 71–80.
1994 “Cut and Stitched: Textiles made by men” (avec Diana K. Myers) in From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan, Serindia — Peabody Essex Museum, London-Salem, 1994 (Eds. D.K. Myers, M. Aris & S. Bean) 143–166.
1996 “On local and mountain deities in Bhutan”, in Reflections of the Mountain: Essays on the history and social meaning of the mountain cult in Tibet and the Himalaya, A.M. Blondeau & E. Steinkellner (eds), Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, 1996, 39–56.
- “Notes on the Stylistic & Historical connections between Bhutan & Southern Tibet”, in Tibetan Art: Towards a definition of style (Jane Casey Singer & Philip Denwood, eds.), London, Laurence King publishing, 1997, 210–220.
- “Le pilier/mégalithe de Nabji: un lieu surdéterminé du Bhoutan central” in Les Habitants du Toit du Monde: Hommage à Alexander W. Macdonald, Samten Karmay & Philippe Sagant (eds.), Société d’Ethnologie, Nanterre, 1997, 391–418.
- “Ethnic Mosaic: the Peoples of Bhutan”, in Bhutan: Mountain-fortress of the Gods, C. Schicklgruber & F. Pommaret (eds.), Serindia, London, 1997, 43–59.
- “The Birth of a nation”, in Bhutan: Mountain-fortress of the Gods, C. Schicklgruber & F. Pommaret (eds.), Serindia, London, 1997, 179–208.
- “The Way to the throne”, in Bhutan: Mountain-fortress of the Gods, C. Schicklgruber & F. Pommaret (eds.), Serindia, London, 1997, 209– 235.
- “Maîtres des trésors” (gTer bdag): Divinités locales et médiums au Bhoutan”, in Tibetan Mountain Deities, their cults and representations, Proceedings of the 8th IATS conference Graz, A.M. Blondeau (ed.), Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, vol.6, 1998, 79–98.
- “Bhutan: una presentacion”, Bhutan: encuentro con los dioses en el Himalaya, Fundacio “La Caixa”, Barcelona, 1998, 17–31.
- “Un repaso historico”, Bhutan: encuentro con los dioses en el Himalaya, Fundacio “La Caixa”, Barcelona, 1998, 33–49
- “El Arte de Bhutan”, Bhutan: encuentro con los dioses en el Himalaya, Fundacio “La Caixa”, Barcelona, 1998, 67–87.
- “Traditional Values, new trends”, Bhutan: a fortress at the edge of time ?, Selected Papers of the Bhutan Seminar 1998, Vienna: VIDC-Austrian Development Cooperation, 1999, 13–26.
- “The Mon pa revisited: in search of Mon”, in Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan culture, Toni Huber (ed.), Dharamsala: Tibetan Library of Works and Archives, 1999: 52–73.
- “Notes sur le négoce entre le Bhoutan, le Bengale et l’Assam”, in Journal Asiatique, 1999, 287.1, 285–303.
2000 — “Rouge est le Sang: Le Bétel au Bhoutan”, Opiums: les plantes du plaisir et de la convivialité en Asie, P. Le Failler & A. Hubert (eds), l’Harmattan, Paris 2000, 25–38.
- “Ancient Trade Partners: Bhutan, Cooch Bihar and Assam (17 th to 19 th centuries)”, in
Journal of Bhutan Studies, vol. 2 n°1, Center for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu, summer 2000, 3053 (traduction révisée et augmentée de l’article paru dans le Journal Asiatique 1999).
- “Recent Bhutanese scholarship in History and Anthropology”, in Journal of Bhutan Studies: Special issue on the Bhutan panel of the European South Asian Modern Studies Conference Edinburgh University 2000, Centre for Bhutan studies, Thimphu, vol.3 n° 2, Winter 2000, 139 ‑163.
- “Bhutanese students’ discovery of fieldwork: culture shock and identity”, in The Pandita and the Siddha. Tibetan Studies in Honour of E. Gene Smith, R. Prats & D. Jackson (eds.), 2001, en CD rom.
- “Bhoutan: une fortresse au bord du temps ? valeurs traditionnelles et orientations nouvelles” in Ruptures ou mutations au tournant du XXIe siècle. Changements de géographie mentale ? Rita Régnier ed.), l’Harmattan Collection Eurasie n°10, Paris, 2001, 91–107.
- “La danse des ‘Huit Catégories de Dieux et Démons’ au Bhoutan”, in K. Buffetrille & H. Diemberger (eds.), Territory and Identity in Tibet and the Himalayas, Tibetan Studies in honour of Anne-Marie Blondeau, Proceedings of the 9 th IATS, Leyden, Brill, Leiden 2002, 159–178.
- “Weaving hidden threads: Some ethno-historical clues on the artistic affinities between Eastern Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh”, The Tibet Journal, E. Lo Bue (ed.), vol.XXVII n°1&2, Spring & Summer 2002, Dharamsala, 177–196.
- “Etres soumis, Etres protecteurs: Padmasambhava et les Huit Catégories de Dieux et
Démons au Bhoutan”, in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines n°2, Revue électronique de l’UMR 8047, CNRS, Paris, Avril 2003, 40–66. En ligne sur www.digitalhimalaya.com
-“Historical and religious relations between Lhodrak (Southern Tibet) and Bumthang
(Bhutan) from the 18th to the early 20th century: Preliminary data”, in A. McKay (ed.), Tibet and her neighbours. Proceedings of the History of Tibet Conference St Andrews University 2001, Hansjörg Mayer, London, 91–106.
- “Buddhist monasteries in Tibet” in P. Pichard and F. Lagirarde (eds.), The Buddhist Monastery. A cross-cultural legacy. EFEO, Paris, 2003, 283–304.
- “The fascinating life of Lama Changchub Tsöngru (1817–1856) according to his biography” in K. Ura & S. Kinga (eds.), The Spider and the Piglet. Proceedings of the 1st International seminar on Bhutanese Studies 2003, Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies, 73–89.
-“Yul and Yul lha: the territory and its deity in Bhutan”, in Bulletin of Tibetology, Gangtok: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, vol 40 (1) May 2004. Vol 40 no 1, 39–67.
- “Rituels non-bouddhiques de Kheng ‘Bu li (Bhoutan)”, Proceedings of the 8 th IATS seminar Bloomington 1998, in Revue d’Etudes tibétaines (RET) n°6, Octobre 2004, 60–77.
- “La dernière frontière himalayenne: Evangélistes et tentative de colonisation des âmes”, in Religion et politique en Asie, J. Lagerwey (ed.), Les Indes Savantes, Paris, 2006, 133–156.
- “Dances in Bhutan. A traditional medium of information”, Journal of Bhutan Studies, vol.14 summer 2006, 26–35. Available online at www.bhutanstudies.org.bt
-“Estate and deities: A ritual from central Bhutan. The bskang gso of O rgyan chos gling” in J. Ardussi & F. Pommaret (eds), Bhutan. Traditions and changes. Proceedings of the XIth IATS Oxford 2003, Brill, Leiden, 2007. 135–158.
- “Recovering identity: Students’ fieldwork in Bhutan”, in Ramon N. Prats (ed.), The Pandita and the Siddha, Tibetan Studies in Honour of E. Gene Smith, Amnye Machen Institute, Dharamsala, 2007, 210–217.
- Reprint “Dances in Bhutan. A traditional medium of information”, in Media & public culture. Proceedings of the 2nd International Seminar on Bhutan studies CBS, Thimphu, 2007, 31–39.
- Preface. “Holding the name high”, in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines — numéro 14 — Octobre 2008 TIBETAN STUDIES IN HONOR OF SAMTEN KARMAY, Part I — Historical, Cultural and Linguistic Studies Edited by Françoise Pommaret and Jean-Luc Achard, iii‑v. http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/collections/journals/ret/index.php?selection=13
- “The Messed Up Books”(Pecha trok wa la). A personal recollection of Samten G. Karmay and the O rgyan chos gling catalogue (Bhutan), in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines — numéro 14 — Octobre 2008 TIBETAN STUDIES IN HONOR OF SAMTEN KARMAY, Part I — Historical, Cultural and Linguistic Studies Edited by Françoise Pommaret and Jean-Luc Achard, 7–12. http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/collections/journals/ret/index.php?selection=13
-“Protectors of Bhutan. The role of Guru Rinpoche and the Eight Categories of Gods and Demons (lHa srin sde brgyad)”, in John Ardussi & Sonam Tobgay (eds.), Written Treasures of Bhutan. Mirror of the past and bridge to the future. Proceedings of the First international Conference on the rich scriptural heritage of Bhutan, National Library of Bhutan, Thimphu, 2008, 305–340.
2009 — “Bon and chos, community rituals in Bhutan”, in Antonio Terrone & Sarah Jacoby (eds.) Buddhism Beyond the Monastery, Proceedings of the Xth IATS Oxford 2003, Brill. Leiden, 2009, 111–144.
2010 — “Encounter with a dream. Performing a ritual: Bhutanese pilgrims in Tibet” in Jose Cabezon (ed.) Tibetan Ritual, Proceedings of the Santa Barbara Seminar May 2007, OUP, New York , 2010, 249–261.
- “Note on the palaces and mansions of Bhutan” in J‑L Achard (ed.) Etudes tibétaines en l’honneur d’ Anne Chayet, EPHE-Droz, Paris, 205–216.
2011 (avec Tashi Tobgay) “Bhutan’s pervasive phallus: Is Drukpa Kunley really responsible?”, in Alex McKay & Anna Balikci-Denjongpa (eds.), Buddhist Himalaya: Studies in religion, history and culture. Proceedings of the Golden Jubilee conference of the Namgyal Institute of
tibetology Gangtok, 2008, Vol. 1: Tibet and the Himalaya. Namgyal Institute, Gangtok, 2011, 59–76
“Reflections on the Role of University Research ( ) in the Bhutanese Context”, Journal of Bhutan Research and Development, vol.1 n°1 Thimphu: RUB, 2012, 61–68.
“Delok (‘Das log) women on the fringes of Buddhism”, in SSEASR (South & Southeast Asia culture and religion ) Journal, vol VI 2012, 56–64.
2012 “The Masters go west. A story of Buddhism’s adaptation to “new fields”” in Dasho Karma Ura & Dendup Chophel (eds.) Buddhism Without Borders. Proceedings of the International Conference on Globalized Buddhism, Thimphu: CBS, 2012, 89–96.
2014 — “Bon in Bhutan.What is in the name?” in Kumagai Seiji (ed.) Bhutanese Buddhism and Its Culture. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications. 113–126.
- “Note on Tsha chu. The therapeutic hot springs of Bhutan” in Ulrike Roesler & Charles Ramble (eds.) Tibetan and Himalayan Healing: an Anthology for Anthony Aris. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications, 2015, 543–546.
- “Men have titles, women have property. Note on the history of Wangdu Choling, Bumthang, Bhutan” in Hanna Havnevik & Charles Ramble (eds.) From Bhakti to Bon. Festschrift for Per Kvaerne.Oslo: the Institute for Comparative Research in Human culture, 395–408.
- “The Community of Ngangla Trong” in Karma Phuntsho (ed.), Twilight of Cultures. Tradition and Change in four Rural Communities in Bhutan, Thimphu: Helvetas, 13–49.
- ” A cultural epiphany. Religious dances of Bhutan and their costumes.”, in The Arts of Bhutan, , vol. 66 n°4, june 2015, 30–39. www.marg-art.org/c/147
- “Alliances and power in central Bhutan: a narrative of religion, prestige and wealth
(mid 19th century-mid 20th century)”, Saul Mullard (ed.), The Dragon and the Hidden Land: Proceedings of the Sikkim-Bhutan panel at the Twelfth IATS Conference. Special issue ofThe Bulletin of Tibetology: Gangtok: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.
- “Finding Yarlung in South-central Bhutan. Myths, migrations and society: The community of Ngangla Trong in Lower Kheng.” in Sikkim Bhutan Proceedings of the IATS 2013, Namgyel Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok.
- “THE CAKRAVARTIN-KING. A Narrative of the Fourth King and the symbols of the Bhutanese Monarchy” in Thierry Mathou & Tshering Tashi (eds.), Life and reign of the Bodhisattva-king, Thimphu: Bhutan Publishing house, November 2015.
“Empowering religious women practitioners in contemporary Bhutan” in N. Schneider and Mona Schrempf (eds) ‘Autonomous’ female religious specialists, RET 2016 “Cultural landscapes in Bhutan. An evidence and a challenge” in Amita Sinha & Kapila D. silva (eds) Landscapes of South Asia: Studies in Heritage Conservation and Management, Abingdon: Taylor & Francis/routledge, 2016.