My most heartfelt thanks go to the Tibetan research participants in Tsang for so willingly and generously sharing their lives, medical work, and memories with me, jointly seeking clarity, and providing their hospitality. Although many names used in this book are pseudonyms, my appreciation and respect for each individual remains the same. I am particularly grateful to the late Yonten Tsering and his wife Yeshe Lhamo in Shigatse, and to Ngawang Dorjé and his family in Lhasa, for letting me become a part of their families and for teaching me so much. All interpretations and conclusions drawn from the research are solely my own, as are any errors.
In Lhasa, Shigatse Town, and Beijing, too, I received indispensable help with my research and enjoyed the friendship of many people who influenced this book in subtle but important ways, and to whom I am deeply grateful. They include Rinzin, the late Tsering Gyalpo, Nyima Tsering, Nyima Lhamo, Penpa Tsering, Tashi Norbu, Tsering Dikey, Jigmé, Dawa, Leigh Miller, Jason Sangster, Kabir Heimsath, Maria Luisa Nodari, Ruth and Flaviu Huber, Ursula Rechberg, Dawn Collins, and Mingji Cuomo in Lhasa; Thomas Aebi, Leo Näscher, Lobsang, Jake, Adrun, Mike, Sabriye and Paul, and Putri and Yulha in Shigatse; and Professor Thubten Phuntsog, Wang Liu, and Zhen Yan in Beijing. I would also like to acknowledge my hosts and teachers at Tibet University for providing me with a long-term visa and residence permit and for allowing me to progress as a student of the Tibetan language, while continuing to be a researcher. The fieldwork and visits since 2006 would not have been the same without the friendship and intermittent translation assistance of Peyang, whom I admire for her strength of character and for inspiring hope when hope seems impossible.
Over the past decade I have been blessed to meet and work with a remarkable group of colleagues and friends who share a passion for and deep commitment to the study of Tibetan medicine in the contemporary world: Vincanne Adams, Calum Blaikie, Alessandro Boesi, Sienna R. Craig, Frances Garrett, Barbara Gerke, Denise Glover, Janet Gyatso, Stephan Kloos, Alex McKay, Colin Millard, Nianggajia, Audrey Prost, Geoffrey Samuel, Mona Schrempf, Katharina Sabernig, Martin Saxer, Herbert Schwabl, Tawni Tidwell, Stacey Van Vleet and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, among others. I have also benefited greatly from colleagues working in social anthropology and modern history of the greater Himalayan and Tibetan region, and here my thanks go in particular to Robbie Barnett, Hildegard Diemberger, Françoise Robin, Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy, Ken Bauer, Mark Turin, and Sara Shneiderman. Hildegard Diemberger, Guntram Hazod, Andre Gingrich, Ernst Steinkellner, and Charles Ramble were early supporters, and I am especially grateful for their guidance with my first research and language efforts in the region. Many people along the way have helped me sharpen my argument and clarify the presentation of materials. I specifically thank Sienna Craig, Barbara Gerke, Sara Shneiderman, Alex McKay, Heidi Fjeld, Dikke Lindskog, Michael Stanley-Baker, Shigehisa Kuriyama, and Martin Saxer for taking the time for discussion, comments, and in some cases corrections and help with the content, shape, and structure of the book, and to Ann Jones for all her support of my work. Though any inaccuracies and shortcomings are all my own, this book owes a great deal to my colleagues. I am also grateful to those colleagues who have been working in NGOs in Tibet, foremost the Swiss Red Cross and its international collaboration department for giving me access to internal reports and encouraging exchange and research with the beneficiaries of their programs in Tsang.
At University College London, I was extremely fortunate to work under the able guidance of Vivienne Lo, with assistance from Hildegard Diemberger from Cambridge. In London I benefited from Tibetan language training at SOAS, thanks to Ulrich Pagel. Feedback and encouragement by Geoffrey Samuel and Guy Attewell were crucial in my early thinking about this book. At the University of Oslo (UiO), Heidi Fjeld has been most helpful and resourceful, helping to shape the book and my life in manifold ways. Other colleagues, friends, and students associated with Oslo’s Tibet-Norway Network of University Collaboration also opened spaces for discussing Tibetan issues and immediately made me feel at home. Special thanks go to Hanna Havnevik for all she has done to support the network and Tibetan studies in Oslo, and to Astrid Hovden, Per Kværne, and Inger Vasstveit for the wonderful company and friendship. I also benefited from working with the MA and PhD students from Tibetan universities based in Oslo during my stay. The practical course in Tibetan medicine that I took at the Milan New Yuthok Institute for Tibetan Medicine, taught by Dr Pasang Yonten Arya, clarified many practical aspects of this complex healing tradition. I am grateful for Dr. Pasang’s lucid explanations and up-to-date interpretations of often obscure aspects of Tibetan medical writing, and to my colleagues on the course.
Virginia Woolf aptly said that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write. Although meant for the writing of fiction, this surely also applies to the crafting of ethnography. I am very grateful for having gained the freedom and the time to write, through financial means, writing spaces, and the loving support of family and friends.
I am grateful to the Nansen Foundation for providing the small research grant that brought me to UiO in the first place, to the European Commission’s Marie Curie-Skłodowska Fellowship (Grant 303139), held at UiO between 2012 and 2014, and the Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship (Grant 104523) held at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol. And what rooms of my own I had! Heartfelt thanks to my hosts and colleagues at the Section for Medical Anthropology and Medical History at UiO’s Institute of Health and Society and especially to the Risdal Otnes family and Heidi for letting me use their “little red cabin” in Skåbu for extended stints of writing in the spring, summer, and autumn of 2014 and to Ingeborg Magerøy and family for lending their beloved Mossero cabin, also in Skåbu, to a “perfectly strange Austrian” in the summer of 2015.
As for the family members and friends who sustained me through the research and writing, thanks go to my parents, Maria and Winfried Hofer; my guardian spirit Jutta; the incredible Ingrid, Adelheid, and Rotraud; my sister Mechthild, Konrad, and the girls; my brother Meinrad, as well as Esther and their Sander boy; Lucy Powell; the Rapela clan, including Mechu, Jonas and Fausto, and Mariana and Manuel; Heidi, Dikke, and their families; Richard Barnett; the extended Vidnes family in Oslo; Hilary and Jon; Edward, Sarah, and the girls; and most of all to Thea Vidnes and our own girls.
I am also very grateful to Lorri Hagman, executive editor at the University of Washington Press, for her sustained interest in this book and our long-term collaboration, which has been so enjoyable. Studies on Ethnic Groups in China series editor Stevan Harrell has been a great developmental editor, and I am grateful for all the critical feedback and comments he provided upon first and subsequent readings, and for his foreword. I am also thankful to the external reviewers of the manuscript for this book, for their tremendous input and constructive feedback. Thanks also to copyeditor Elizabeth Berg, to designer Katrina Noble, and to my brother Meinrad Hofer, for allowing me to use his images and for finalizing the maps.