More about the project

Research activities

  • Aristocratic Women and their Servants in Lhasa by Prof. Tseyang Changngopa
  • Nomadic Women in Banga and Medrogonkar by Soyak and Sonam Tsomo
  • Female Heads of Polyandrous Families in Gyantse by Dekyi
  • The Work and Organization of Female Weavers in Chedeshol by Dawa Tsering
  • Cholung Nunnery, History and Contemporary Organization by Lhakba
  • The Ornaments and Dressing Styles of Women in Shigatse by Tsewang
  • Women in the Lhatse area of Tsang by Wangtob
  • The Life of Khandro Ogyen Tsomo by Monlam Dzundru
  • The Life Stories of Amdo (Qinghai) Women by Zhuoma
  • The Life Stories of Bhutanese Women by Tenzin and Choni Tsewang
  • The Life Stories of Women in Shigatse (TAR) by Puchung Tsering

The project participants conducted fieldwork during the fall semester 2004, and preliminary findings were presented at a research seminar at Tibet University later that year. In 2005 follow-up fieldwork was made. The research papers are being revised and will be published in the Tibet University Journal.

Other research components
Professor Changngopa is in the process of analysing the biographical writings of the fifth Dalai Lama for traces of women’s voices and presented a paper on the topic at the 11th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies in Bonn in August 2006. The paper is forthcoming in the proceedings of the IATS. In June 2005, in collaboration with Changngopa, Havnevik collected data on a popular cult of a female deity in Lhasa. This research continued during a fieldtrip to Lhasa in March/April 2006, and a research paper was presented at the IATS seminar in Germany in 2006. The paper in forthcoming in the proceedings of the IATS. Both project leaders hope to participate with papers in the 12th Seminar of the International Association ofr Tibetan Studies in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2010. Project Adviser, Professor Yang Enhong (CASS) has completed her book on oral biography: “Moving towards Modernity, Moving towards the World – Twentieth Century Tibetan Women’s Narratives” published in Chinese in 2006. In 2005, Women in Tibet (Gyatso, Havnevik eds.), exploring the struggles and accomplishments of women from both past and present-day Tibet, was published jointly by Hurst, London, and Columbia University Press.Zhuoma (Nag Za sGrol ma) from Qinghai Normal University completed her M.phil thesis "Pilgrimage to Drakar Dreldzong: The Written Tradition and Contemporary Practices among Amdo Tibetans" in 2008. Zhuoma continues her research collecting and analyzing the life stories of six women from Amdo. Kunsel Palmu from Tibet University completed her M.phil. thesis "Tibetan Mortuary Traditions in Contemporary Lhasa" in 2009. Kunsel Palmu intends to continue her research, focusing particularly on women's particpation in mortuary traditions. It is hoped that Kunsel Palmu will give a presentation of her work at the 12th Seminar of the International Association ofr Tibetan Studies in Vancouver in August 2010.

Tibetan and Himalayan Women's Life Stories
In 2006 the Tibetan Life Story project started. Tibet has undergone dramatic political, economic, and cultural changes during the last fifty years, and it is of utmost importance to collect life histories of women who have lived through these changes. The project will include research of both written and oral biographies and will primarily focus on life stories of women, or traces of women’s lives in the life writing of men. The CWGS members at Tibet University have searched for textual sources on the lives of Tibetan and Himalayan women, but have primarily focused on the oral biographies of contemporary women. More than twenty life stories were collected in 2008-2009, and these will be presented in a workshop at Tibet University in Lhasa in May (week 19) 2010. Seven new researchers at Tibet University have been recruited to the project, and in January 2010 the total number of researchers at Tibet University consisted of seventeen. In 2008 five students in Tibetan Studies at the University of Oslo was recruited to the project; they collected women's life stories from the TAR, Qinghai and Bhutan in 2009. During the Seventh Nordic Tibet Research conference in Helsinki 25.-26. September 2009 four members of the Tibetan and Himalayan Life Story Project participated and Havnevik gave a paper on the progress of the Project. In April 2010 (week 15) a workshop will be held at the University of Oslo where the life stories will be presented, discussions will be held and the papers will subsequently be prepared for publication. The project receive funding from Norad through the Network for University Co-operation Tibet-Norway for the period 2007-10.

Project rationale and objectives:
a. to establish a competence and research institution connected with women and gender studies at Tibet University: Center for Women and Gender Studies
(abbr. CWGS).
b. to educate and build the competence of Tibetan students, teachers and researchers at Tibet University engaged in women- and gender studies in Tibetan culture.
c. to produce scientific articles and books in women and gender research in Tibetan culture.
d. to increase the English level of students, teachers and researchers connected with the project Women and Gender Studies in Tibet at the CWGS.
e. to assist students and teachers at the CWGS obtain Master degrees in Tibet, in Norway or in other relevant countries. Initiate research projects that may be developed into M.Phil. theses.
f. to work gradually towards qualifying the CWGS students and teachers for Ph.D. studies in the PRC, or in Norway or in other relevant universities in the West.
g. to stimulate the interest for women and gender studies in Tibetan culture among Tibetan students at TU, among Norwegian students at UiO and elsewhere.

Implementing institutions:
Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo (UiO) and Center for Women and Gender Studies (CWGS), Tibet University (TU), Lhasa.

The project receives financial support by NORAD via Network for University Co-operation Tibet – Norway:

Institutional building of the CWGS
Center for Women and Gender Studies (CWGS) was established at Tibet University in 2002. The institutional building of the Center has been one of the main project objectives. By improving the infrastructure considerably, a better research environment has been created. Efforts have also been made to build up a study and hand library. A substantial amount of academic literature in Chinese, Tibetan and English has been purchased. The Center, being the only one of its kind established in a minority area, has received media coverage and attracted wide attention in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Competence building
Several competence building courses have been arranged at the CWGS, including research seminars, guest lectures, computer training, and English Language training. In 2005, opportunities for studies abroad were provided for the entire CWGS staff, either at the University of Oslo (Norway), Boston University (USA), Oxford School of English (UK), or at the British Council English Language training programme (Nepal). The competence building will continue till 2010.

Collaboration with Tribhuvan University in Nepal
In 2005, contact was established with the Women’s Studies Programme, Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. A promising mutual interest for future co-operation was revealed and will be concretized in 2006. Since the establishment in 1996, the Women’s Studies Programme has made substantial contributions to both education and research within the field of gender and development studies in Nepal.

Estimated project closing
The present co-operation agreement between the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo (UiO), and Center for Women and Gender Studies (CWGS), Tibet University (TU), runs from 2004 to 2010.


Published May 21, 2010 2:07 PM - Last modified May 21, 2010 2:22 PM