Jonathan Samuels received traditional scholastic training in the Tibetan monastic system and holds the scholastic title of Geshe. Upon subsequently moving into academia, he gained Master’s and PhD degrees in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. For the latter (completed in 2014) he did research on aspects of the social and cultural history of the Tamang, an ethnic minority in Nepal. He has held positions at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and Wolfson College (University of Oxford).
Samuels’ many years of residence within communities in Asia inform his approach to studying the complexities of tradition. His research interests include history, anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics. While much of his research deals with Buddhist scholastic writings (most recently, works from the 14th and 15th centuries), he endeavours to look beyond their religious and philosophical content to consider how intellectual developments translated into the formation of institutional practices, the creation of communities, and ultimately, impacted society. In addition to his research on the history of monastic education and the development of the Tibetan tradition of scholasticism, he retains an interest in the social history on the Tibetan Plateau and in neighbouring regions, especially the social history of ethnic minorities in Nepal.
Samuels joins the IKGA as part of the ERC-funded research project “The Dawn of Tibetan Buddhist Scholasticism (11th–13th c.)” (TibSchol).