The Tulku Institution in Tibetan Buddhism

The Tulku Institution in Tibetan Buddhism: Past, Present and Future Prospects of the Reincarnation System

The Himalayan Studies Program and Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco are hosting a symposium on the Tibetan reincarnation system at USF on February 15-16, 2013. Below is the program for the symposium. We invite you to join us to hear many esteemed scholars representing diverse academic disciplines.  The event is free and open to public.  All travel and accommodation arrangements are the responsibility of symposium attendees.
For more information (abstracts etc.), see the symposium website:
Conference programme:

Friday, February 15, 2013, Xavier Room, Fromm Hall (USF Main Campus)

Morning Session

9:00-9:15 Welcome Speech by Prof. Marcelo Camperi, Dean of Arts of Sciences

Tulkus in Transnational Buddhism: Authentication and Contestation of Hybridity in the Cross-Cultural Reincarnation System
Moderator: Carole McGranahan (University of Colorado)

9:15-9:45 Elijay Ary (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris)
“So what’s it like to be a Tulku?” Western Reincarnations and their Roles within the Tibetan Tulku Institution

9:45-10-15 Jessica Falcone (Kansas State University)
A Transnational Tulku: the Multiple Lives of a Spanish-born Tibetan Buddhist Lama

10:15-10:45 Anya Bernstein (Harvard University)
Buddhist Body Politics: Life, Death, and Reincarnation in Transnational Eurasia

10:45-11:15 Derek Maher (East Carolina University)
The Bodong Trulku: Reincarnation in Exile

11:15-11:45 Discussion

11:45-1:00 Lunch Break

Afternoon Session

Tulkus in Historical Context: Power, Knowledge, and Politics in the Innovation of the Reincarnation Institution
Moderator: Stephen Roddy (University of San Francisco)

1:00-1:30 Tsering Shakya (University of British Columbia)
Contestation over the Succession of the Dalai Lamas in the 17-18th Century

1:30-2:00 Elliot Sperling (Indiana University)
Qing Organization of the Incarnation Process: The Broader use of the Golden Urn

2:00-2:30 Jann Ronis (UC Berkeley)
The Rise of Tulkus in the Nyingma Sect: An innovation of the large scholastic monasteries of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

2:30-3:00 Nicole Willock (University of Denver)
Ethics and Education: Gelukpa Narratives on Reforming the Tulku Institution in the Deng Xiaoping era

3:00-3:30 Discussion

3:30-3:45 Tea/Coffee Break

3:45-4:30 Keynote Lecture by Prof. Donald Lopez (University of Michigan)
Four Possibilities

4:30-4:45 Discussion

Tulkus as a Model of Ideal Beings: Embodying the Enlightened Characteristics
Moderator: John Nelson (University of San Francisco)

4:45-5:15 Benjamin Bogin (Georgetown University)
The Tulku as Prodigy: Reflections on the Childhood of the Tenth Karmapa

5:15-5:45 Suzanne Bessenger (Randolph College)
Deity Emanation and the Legitimization of Sonam Peldren

5:45-6:00 Discussion

Saturday, February 16, 2013, Maier Room, Fromm Hall (USF Main Campus)

9:30-10:15 Keynote Lecture by Prof. Jeffrey Hopkins (UMA Institute for Tibetan Studies and University of Virginia)
Reflections on Tulku Institution: Technical and Personal

10:15-10:30 Discussion

Envisioning and Retelling Birth-Stories: Tulku Lineage Narratives and the Quest for Legitimation
Moderator: Alexander Gardner (Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation)

10:30-11:00 José Cabezón (UC Santa Barbara)
How Tulku Lineages Are Constructed: The Case of Khöntön Peljor Lhundrub and the Lineage of the Changkya Incarnations

11:00-11:30 Nancy Lin (Vanderbilt University)
Birth-Stories of the Fifth Dalai Lama

11:30-12:00 Daniel Hirshberg (UC Santa Barbara)
A Post-Incarnate Usurper? Guru Chöwang’s Claim to the Patrilineal Inheritance of Nyang

12:00-12:30 Discussion

12:30-12:45 Concluding Remarks by Tsering Wangchuk (University of San Francisco)


If you have questions about the symposium, please contact Tsering Wangchuk at or Jake Nagasawa at  Phone inquiries should call 415-422-6601.

Cite this blog post
Tsering Wangchuk (2012, December 6). The Tulku Institution in Tibetan Buddhism. The Himalayas and beyond. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from

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1 Response

  1. Tsering Wangchuk says:

    Dear Colleagues,

    I just wanted to let you know that we will be livestreaming the tulku symposium held at the University of San Francisco on February 15-16, 2013. If you are interested, please visit:


    Tsering Wangchuk
    Assistant Professor
    Theology and Religious Studies
    University of San Francisco

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