Professor Janet Gyatso gave the first annual Aris lecture on Thursday October 22 for the Tibetan and Himalayan Research Cluster at Wolfson College. This lecture was particularly significant as the week before the patron and namesake for this event, Anthony Aris, sadly passed away.
The lecture began with a minute’s silence for Anthony Aris followed by a tribute to the Aris brothers by Prof. Per Kvaerne (University of Oslo), who gave an appraisal of their contributions to the study of Himalayan cultures as well as their personalities and their activities in Tibetan Studies and at Wolfson College.
Prof. Janet Gyatso is a specialist in Buddhist Studies with a focus on Tibetan and South Asian cultural and intellectual history. Her most recent book, ‘Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet’ (Columbia University Press, 2015), has just come out.
Gyatso knew both Aris brothers over several decades and shared her personal memories of Anthony and Michael. In her talk, she addressed five problems that, according to her analysis, Tibetan Studies are currently facing: those of 'representation', 'functionalism', 'reductionism', 'culturalism', and 'identity'. She unpacked these categories in her talk and gave examples from her own research as a personal tribute to Michael and Anthony Aris.