ERC Starting Grant Awarded to S. Kloos

Re-Assembling Tibetan Medicine: The Formation of a Transnational Sowa Rigpa Industry in Contemporary India, China, Mongolia and Bhutan (RATIMED)

Stephan Kloos, Senior Researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Social Anthropology (ISA) and a member of the PharmAsia Network, has received an ERC Starting Grant to study the transnational Tibetan medicine industry in Asia.

The five-year (2014-2018) project titled “Re-assembling Tibetan Medicine: The formation of a transnational Sowa Rigpa industry in contemporary India, China, Mongolia and Bhutan” (RATIMED) will be carried out by an international, interdisciplinary team of four researchers, including fellow PharmAsia members Calum Blaikie and Harilal Madhavan, as well as Mingji Cuomu. With a total budget of 1.46 million Euros, this is the only Austrian ERC Starting Grant 2013 in the social sciences and humanities.

‘Traditional medicine’ has recently emerged from a marginalized position to become a rapidly expanding and highly innovative multi-billion dollar global industry. However, despite growing academic, economic and public interest in the ‘traditional’ pharmaceutical industry, we know little about its larger dynamics, shape, and wider consequences. This ERC project aims to fill this gap by focusing on the Sowa Rigpa industry as a particularly illustrative and timely case. In particular, this study will focus on Sowa Rigpa’s raw materials, pharmaceutical production, markets and legal administration as parts of a pharmaceutical assemblage. Like this, a hitherto non-existent ‘big picture’ of this complex phenomenon can be generated and linked to contemporary global society, economy and politics at large.

Stephan Kloos received his PhD in medical anthropology from UC San Francisco and Berkeley in 2010, and has since worked at ISA in Vienna. He has worked on Tibetan medicine for over 12 years, funded among others by Fulbright, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the FWF, and an EU Marie Curie Fellowship. For more information as well as open access to most of his publications, see www.stephankloos.org.

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