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 and Leipzig have hosted conferences, and the next Seminar will be in St Petersburg in 2017. The proceedings of the first three conferences have all been published.

I was elected to serve as the first Secretary General of ISYT, and was replaced by the brilliant Seiji Kumagai at the third conference in 2012. It was a pleasure to watch this nascent organisation grow and establish strong roots.

Here is a little information from the website:

UPDATE: At the fourth conference of ISYT in Leipzig, the board accepted St Petersburg University’s invitation to host the 5th conference, and the ISTY goes from strength to strength.

3rd ISYT


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.

Japan Temple


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