I am an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University, and the incoming Director of Graduate Studies.

I earned my Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia specializing in the history of Tibet, Buddhist literature, women, gender and sexuality. I specialize in the history of literature developed within transnational concerns across India, Nepal, and Tibet.

My research focuses on Tibetan literature about women and meditation in the fourteenth century, a period of the formation of canons in Tibet as they received and reinterpreted Indian Buddhist literary traditions. Thus, my areas of research include South Asia, Central and East Asia, feminist theory, contemplative studies, Buddhist philosophy, as well as ethics in the contemporary adaptations of Buddhist traditions in North America. I have taught on Tibetan, Indian, and Chinese religions, and classes on women, gender, and sexuality studies. I also have research interests in Buddhist psychology, trauma and resilience, indigenous studies, and post-colonial theory which I have presented at numerous conferences.

As a Native American woman and multi-cultural person, I foreground issues of diversity and inclusion in my teaching and research. My concern is with alterity, especially in terms of how to facilitate bridges for students to empathetically engage with the worldview of other times and cultures.

My research has been funded by the Tsadra Foundation, the Ford Foundation Fellowship, Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, the Buckner W. Clay Award in the Humanities, Ellen Bayard Weedon Grant and three Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships. I have also received the University of Virginia Diversity Program Professional Development Award, the University of Virginia Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Summer Research Award and the Project on Lived Theology Research Award.

My work as a scholar began after fifteen years living as a Tibetan Buddhist nun (rnal ‘byor ma) teaching Buddhist philosophy. During this time I was embedded in Tibetan Buddhist communities of India, Nepal, Tibet, and North America. During this time, I ran an international non-profit organization and trained Buddhist teachers.

Driven to my graduate research by my interest in Tibetan history and women in Buddhism, I earned my MA from University of Virginia in the History of Religions, specializing in Tibetan Buddhism. I then entered the Ph.D. program in Religious Studies.  I finished my Ph.D. at University of Virginia in May, 2023. There, my research focused on women and sexuality in esoteric Tibetan contemplative literature, also known as Great Perfection (rdzogs chen).

I have recently taught courses as a primary instructor at Dickson College and I taught classes at the University of Virginia, teaching Buddhism in Tibet, Modern Tibetan Language, Tibetan Buddhism Introduction and Buddhism and Gender, and serving as a Teaching Assistant for courses on Hinduism and East Asian Religions. Currently I am an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University, where I have taught a course on historical and contemporary perspectives on Compassion in Buddhism. In 2024, I will teach Theories and Methods in the study of ReligionApplied Religions, and the History of Buddhist Meditation in the Modern World.

I am currently preparing a manuscript for publication based on my dissertation research. It is entitled, Women and Sexuality in Tibetan Consort Literature; A Study of The Heart of the Ḍākinī (mkha’ ‘gro snying thig), analyzes scriptures of pivotal importance to Tibetan Buddhist contemplative movements in the fourteenth century known as The Heart of the Ḍākinī. These revealed scriptures were redacted by Tibetan luminaries such as Longchenpa (klong chen rab ‘byams pa, 1308-1363), the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) and later, the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-82). Today, the scriptures continue to define the contemplative curriculum in two of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world. These scriptures are significant as a major early source advocating inclusion of women and dispensing instruction on religious sexuality in Tibetan esoteric culture known as Great Perfection (rdzogs chen).

This research intervenes in colonialist, reductionistic appraisals of religious sexuality in Tibet. Using a Foucauldian analysis of the discourse, I found The Heart of the Ḍākinī does carry examples of the continuation of a regime of regulation and control seen in Indian Buddhist literature, in its brief texts focused on sacramental sexuality and sexual yoga praxis. However, I argue that this literature also focuses on other significant discourses which shaped Buddhist sexualities, the most prominent of which is sexual aesthetics, a discourse distinct from ethics in Buddhist literature, even though it has ethical implications and convergences. Thus, I argue that sexuality in Buddhist literature is constructed through multiple discourses, of which ethics is just one facet. Furthermore, in this literature, a text which centers religious sexuality throughout its multiple genres, ethics is the least concern. This omission left a gap, which through the lens of aesthetics, may be understood as being explored through a mimesis which subsequently [and dangerously] accommodated a wide range of ethical interpretations. Yet, it is mimesis that stealthily facilitates a transformation of Buddhist discourses about women, repeating previous tropes but with significant revisions that promote the inclusion of women.

This research contributes to public and scholarly debates on gender and sexuality in light of the #metoo movement through situating contemporary narratives within the common key discourses Buddhist literature used to establish new sexual ethics. I make the case that current narratives arising from #metoo in Buddhist global cultures reflects a development of nuanced narratives of sexual misconduct that could be considered a foundation of development of ethical literature paralleling the Vinaya’s reliance on narratives to articulate, clarify and classify instances of misconduct. Therefore, such accounts serve as one part of a matrix of discourses yet to be developed to transform Buddhist sexual ethics.

An article from this research, Anatomy of a Ḍākinī; Female Consorts in 14th Century Tibet, has been published by the The Journal of Dharma Studies. I am have also published a chapter “Sexuality in Buddhist Traditions,” for The Cambridge World History of Sexualities. Vol 2, forthcoming in 2023. Another article based on this research, “Human Women and the Twenty-one Disciples of Pema Ledreltsal,” will be published in the esteemed peer-reviewed journal, Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, forthcoming 2023. Another article based on my research is being published for a special issue on non-duality for The Journal of Dharma Studies, it is entitled, Non-duality as Yab Yum in Tibetan Great Perfection (rdzogs chen).

I have presented my research at several major conferences including the upcoming presentations at the American Academy of Religions and at the International Association of Buddhist Studies. I am a regularly invited speaker for both academic and public audiences on topics concerning women in Buddhism, the history of Buddhist meditation, and Buddhism outside the monastery in Tibet.


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