In 2007 Brandon Dotson and I set up the International Seminar of Young Tibetologists (ISYT). I hope I don’t sound smug when I say that it is one of the things that I am most proud of. The project took wings: The first conference in London hosted researchers and young academics from around the world, and was swiftly followed by one in Paris. Since then, Kyoto, Leipzig, and St Petersburg have hosted conferences. The proceedings of the first four conferences have all been published.
I was elected to serve as the first Secretary General of ISYT. It has been a pleasure to watch this nascent organisation grow and establish strong roots. Here is a little information from the website:
To get an idea of the breadth and depth of the research interests of the organisation do take a look at the 2018 Fifth Seminar Book of Abstracts from St Petersburg.
UPDATE: The Sixth International Seminar of Young Tibetologists is going to be hosted by University of Virginia, in Charlottsville, USA.
In 1977, Martin Brauen and Per Kvaerne convened the Seminar of Young Tibetologists in Zürich. They invited sixty scholars, thirty of whom attended the five-day conference. Based on their success, another conference was planned, to take place in Oxford.
That conference, convened by Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi, marked the formal beginning of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS). Later, the Seminar of Young Tibetologists was retroactively awarded the status of being the first IATS seminar. The IATS seminars doubled at nearly every meeting, and, alongside the Csoma de Körős Symposium, became the premier conference in the field of Tibetan studies. With success came exponential growth, and by the time of the fourth seminar in Narita, it was impractical for participants to attend every paper, a state of affairs that is still bemoaned today.
2006 – Rebirth of the ISYT
At the 11th meeting of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) in Germany in 2006, the idea was mooted of a separate, but related organisation with a specific focus on Tibetologists in the early stages of their careers. Perhaps the IATS had grown too large, making it difficult to attend all the presentations relevant to our research topics, or perhaps the beards had grown too luxuriant. Either way, a small group of renegades met and agreed to hold their own conference with a smaller number of panels, slightly longer presentations, and a more youthful approach.
One of our goals in reviving the Seminar of Young Tibetologists is therefore to return to the intimacy of our humble beginnings. Due to the growth of the field, it may not be possible to hold a conference without panels and time conflicts, but we still aim to provide an intimate setting for the sharing of ideas.
The first International Seminar of Young Tibetologists was convened in London at the School or Oriental and African Studies, 9–13 August 2007 by Tim Myatt and Brandon Dotson. Striking a balance between academic rigour and diligent attention to the pursuits and needs of youth (social gatherings), the conference was a great success.