International Seminar of Young Tibetologists

ISYT 2007 logo - Garuda Lion

ISYT St. Petersburg 2018 was upported by:



In 1977, Martin Brauen and Per Kvaerne convened the Seminar of Young Tibetologists in Zürich. They invited sixty scholars, thirty of whom attended the five-day conference. Based on their success, another conference was planned, to take place in Oxford.

That conference, convened by Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi, marked the formal beginning of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS). Later, the Seminar of Young Tibetologists was retroactively awarded the status of being the first IATS seminar. The IATS seminars doubled at nearly every meeting, and, alongside the Csoma de Körős Symposium, became the premier conference in the field of Tibetan studies. With success came exponential growth, and by the time of the fourth seminar in Narita, it was impractical for participants to attend every paper, a state of affairs that is still bemoaned today.

2006 - Rebirth of the ISYT

At the 11th meeting of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) in Germany in 2006, the idea was mooted of a separate, but related organisation with a specific focus on Tibetologists in the early stages of their careers. Perhaps the IATS had grown too large, making it difficult to attend all the presentations relevant to our research topics, or perhaps the beards had grown too luxuriant. Either way, a small group of renegades met and agreed to hold their own conference with a smaller number of panels, slightly longer presentations, and a more youthful approach.

One of our goals in reviving the Seminar of Young Tibetologists is therefore to return to the intimacy of our humble beginnings. Due to the growth of the field, it may not be possible to hold a conference without panels and time conflicts, but we still aim to provide an intimate setting for the sharing of ideas.

The first International Seminar of Young Tibetologists was convened in London at the School or Oriental and African Studies, 9–13 August 2007 by Tim Myatt and Brandon Dotson. Striking a balance between academic rigour and diligent attention to the pursuits and needs of youth (social gatherings), the conference was a great success.

Most importantly, ISYT adopted a set of statutes, elected a governing board, and a proposal to host the second ISYT conference in Paris was unanimously accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Young Tibetologist?

Within minutes of announcing the planned creation of the International Seminar of Young Tibetologists, the joke about the exact nature of a ‘young Tibetologist’ had already grown old. If you are put off by the title, that’s fine. So are we. But you may still have questions, such as…

Am I young?

We have no strict definition, only the following guidelines:
You are young if:
a) No more than 6 years have passed since your final degree.
b) No more than 6 years have passed since your first academic appointment.
If these guidelines exclude you, do not consider it a lost cause, but contact us.

Am I a Tibetologist?

We are trying to keep the conference’s remit as broad as possible, so if you are engaged in work on the Tibetan cultural area, broadly conceived, the answer is yes. Further, we welcome participants with expertise in Himalayan anthropology, also broadly defined.

ISYT Officials & Board of Advisers

As of 2012, the President of ISYT is Kalsang Norbu Gurung (Bonn University), in 2015 Lewis Doney (Freie Universität, Berlin) was elected the Secretary General. The ISYT Board of Advisers elected during the business meeting in 2015 consists of the following 9 scholars:

Cécile Ducher, France
Emanuela Garatti, Italy
Natasha Mikles, USA
Berthe Jansen, The Netherlands
Emilia Sulek, Poland
Jörg Heimbel, Germany
Markus Viehbeck, Germany
Tashi Tsering, Canada
Theresia Hofer, Norway