Research in this sub-programme, led by Birgit Kellner und Pascale Hugon, addressed the formation of intellectual communities in Tibet from the beginning of the Renaissance period (late 10th c.) and their link to monastic communities. Focusing on the monastery of gSang-phu-Ne’u-thog – a major centre for the development of early Tibetan scholasticism – Hugon explored its roles as an enclave of learning and as a religious centre, as well as the affiliations that famous teachers and representatives of the scholastic tradition had with this institution. Her study highlighted both gSang-phu’s function as a “centre of gravity” – attracting students and scholars interested in scholastic learning – and as a “centrifugal point”, from which learning was exported and reproduced elsewhere.

In a broader perspective, VISCOM’s overall focus on visions of community offered a valuable framework for revisiting the phenomenon of specialist intellectual cultures in medieval religions in a comparative framework. Linked to the studies conducted in VISCOM’s first period under the larger umbrella of “Enclaves of Learning”,
the notion of “scholastic communities” integrated investigations of textual and intellectual aspects of religion with questions of social practices and processes. It particularly addressed the sociohistorical formation of scholastic communities, the methods and intellectual practices they cultivated, and the issue of authority in connection with the authorship of religious literature.

These themes were the object of three one-day workshops organised by Kellner and Hugon in the series "Rethinking Scholastic Communities across Medieval Eurasia". Each workshop brought together contributions from scholars working in the three main areas of the VISCOM project.

Publications

Hugon, Pascale, Enclaves of Learning, Religious and Intellectual Communities in Tibet:
The Monastery of gSang phu Neʼu thog in the Early Centuries of the Later Diffusion of
Buddhism. In: Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter, Walter Pohl (eds.), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia: Comparative Approaches. Leiden, 2016: Brill, pp. 289–308. (https://doi.
org/10.1163/9789004315693_014)

Kellner, Birgit, Genealogy into the Future: Glimpses from Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho’s (1653–
1705) Exposition of the Extended Dalai Lama Lineage. In: Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter, Walter Pohl (eds.), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia: Comparative Approaches. Leiden, 2016: Brill, pp. 203–231. (https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004315693_011)