Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney


Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies
Department for Mongolian and Tibetan Studies
Room: 1.029
Brühler Straße 7
D-53119 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 7897

© Barbara Frommann

Research Profile

Lewis Doney's current research focus is on the pre-modern social status, daily lived experience and self-identity of Tibetans and those with whom Tibetans interacted within a wider Central Asian milieu.

Firstly, this means describing people of the Tibetan Empire (c. 600–850 CE), their relations with ruling forces and attempts to work with or mitigate asymmetric dependency in Buddhist scriptoria in Dunhuang on the periphery of that empire.

Secondly, he investigates the later cultural effects of Buddhist literary depictions of the imperial period thoughout the Tibetan plateau and Himalayan regions, showing through narratological methods applied to Buddhist histories and biographies especially the beginnings of the re-envisioning of that empire as a source of new religious values and social norms.

PhD Straight Pass (no corrections) in Study of Religions, SOAS, London. Thesis: Transforming Tibetan Kingship: The Portrayal of Khri Srong lde brtsan in the Early Buddhist Histories

M.A. (Distinction) in Study of Religions, SOAS, London. Dissertation: The Horse and Hayagrīva in India and Tibet

B.A. Honours (First Class) in Religious Studies, Lancaster University. Comparative Religion: Phenomenological approach to all major religions, focus on South Asian religions and independent fieldwork on Indian monasticism

since 2021
Professor (W3) for Tibetology, University of Bonn

Postdoctoral Researcher, Project: BuddhistRoad, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Associate Professor in the History of Religions, focus on Buddhism, NTNU, Norway

Replacement Professor, Chair of Central Asian Languages and Cultures (Tibetology), University of Bonn, Germany

Research Assistant, British Museum, England

Research Fellow, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Postdoctoral Researcher, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich, Germany 

  • Organizer of the BuddhistRoad final conference "Establishing of Buddhist Nodes in Eastern Central Asia 6th to 14th c.—Part III: Impacts of Non-Buddhist Influences and Doctrines," July 12–14, 2021, Beckmanns Hof, Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
  • Lead Organizer (with Dr. Quentin Devers and Ms. Emanuela Garatti) of the panel "Old Tibetan Studies VI" at the 15th International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) Seminar, Paris, July 7–13, 2019. 
  • Co-convener (with Prof. Nicholas Witkowski, Prof. Charles DiSimone and Dr. Jinkyoung Choi) of the panel "Fissure and Continuity in Himalayan and South Asian Buddhisms of the First Millennium CE" at the 17th annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR) titled "Religion: Continuations and Disruptions," Tartu Estonia, June 25–29, 2019. 
  • Co-convener (with Prof. Benjamin Bogin) of the panel "The Second Buddha: New Perspectives on Padmasambhava" at the 2018 annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Washington, DC, March 22–25, 2018.
  • Co-convener (with Prof. Sven Bretfeld) of the panel "Bell Inscriptions Across the Buddhist World" at the 18th Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABS), Toronto, August 20–25, 2017.
  • Organizing Committee member of the Fourth ISYT, Leipzig 2015, and its proceedings, October 2014–December 2016.
  • Co-organizer (with Joydeep Bagchee and Hajnalka Kovacs) of the workshop "Expressing the Ineffable in South Asian Literary Traditions" at Freie Universität Berlin, May 7–8, 2015.
  • Organizer of the LMU Munich conference and workshop "Merkmals and Mirages: Dating (Old) Tibetan Writing," June 25–27, 2012.
  • Organizing Committee member for the SOAS Research Students' Society conference "Changing Lens: Visual Media and Otherness in Academic Research," March 30–31, 2010.
  • 2022: Gerda Henkel Stiftung funding for the project "Digitization and Cataloging of Mongolian and Tibetan Museum Collections in Europe," University of Bonn
  • 2019: NTNU funding to present research at the Dunhuang Academy and Tsinghua University
  • 2019: NTNU funding to co-host a panel at the 15th IATS Seminar in Paris, France
  • 2019: NTNU funding for archival research at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin
  • 2017: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funding to co-host a panel at the Association for Asian Studies 2018 conference in Washington DC
  • 2015: Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation conference grant to co-organize the 4th ISYT, Universität Leipzig
  • 2015: Trace Foundation conference grant to co-organize the 4th ISYT, Universität Leipzig
  • 2014: Research Grant (Forschungsstipendium) for a 10-month fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin
  • 2010: AHRC and SOAS grants to present at the IATS Seminar in Vancouver, Canada
  • 2010: Jordan Travel Grant for manuscript research at the IsIAO Library, University of Rome
  • 2009: AHRC Study Visit Abroad (Fieldwork) grant for manuscript acquisition in India and Nepal
  • 2008: Jordan Travel Grant for manuscript research at the University of Oslo Library
  • 2007: AHRC grant for three years of doctoral study at SOAS, University of London
  • 2007: SOAS Language Acquisition Fund for one year of French language classes
  • 2006: Society for South Asian Studies grant for Tibetan study in South Asia
  • 2004: Society for South Asian Studies grant for Sanskrit and Tibetan study in South Asia
  • 2003: AHRB grant for MA study in the SOAS Study of Religions Department
  • 2001: William Collins Book Prize for best 2nd-year performance in Religions, Lancaster University
  • The Association of Asian Studies
  • The European Association for the Study of Religion
  • The International Association for Tibetan Studies
  • The International Association of Buddhist Studies
  • The SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies
  • La Société Européenne pour l’Etude des Civilisations de l’Himalaya et de l’Asie Centrale
  • The UK Association for Buddhist Studies

since 2023
Project Manager, University of Bonn Translation Group (funded by 84000)

since 2023
Chief Editor, Zentralasiatische Studien journal (with Dieter Schuh)

since 2023
Member, Humanities Study and Teaching Advisory Board, University of Bonn

since 2023
Member, Humanities Faculty Habilitation Committee, University of Bonn

since 2023
Advisory Board Member, "Diegesis in Mind: Cognitive Disciplines and Ancient Narrative in Dialogue," edited by Jan Rüggemeier and Elizabeth E. Shively (Brill; Bonn UP)

since 2023
Professorial Appointment Officer (Berufungsbeauftragter), University of Bonn

since 2023
Advisory Board Member, CrossAsia Specialist Information Service

since 2022
Project Leader, "Digitization and Cataloging of Mongolian and Tibetan Museum Collections in Europe," University of Bonn

since 2020
Member, Research Group on Forced Labor and Slavery in Pre-Modern South and South Asia, based at the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

since 2018
Advisory Board Member, Transnational Network for Theravāda Studies

since 2017
Proofreader and English/Tibetan language expert, The Mañjughoṣa Translation Project Leipzig (under the patronage and supervision of 84000)

since 2017
Curator, ལོ་རྒྱུས་ Digital Resources for the Study of Tibetan History

since 2016
Associate Member, SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies

since 2016
Book Series Editor, "Beyond Boundaries: Religion, Region, Language and the State," published by De Gruyter (with Michael Willis and Sam van Schaik)

since 2012
Editorial Board Member, Old Tibetan Documents Online

Co-Chair, Buddhist Digital Research Center (BDRC) User Experience Working Group

Editor, H-Buddhism Buddhist Scholars Information Network

Advisor, exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art and Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College titled "The Second Buddha," open 2018–2019

Reviewer, The Treasury of Lives: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia, and the Himalaya

Secretary General, International Seminar of Young Tibetologists (ISYT)

Editorial Board Member, Buddhist Studies Review

Chair of the Publications Committee, "Beyond Boundaries"

  • 2023. As editor. With Carmen Meinert, Yukiyo Kasai, and Henrik H. Sørensen. Buddhism in Central Asia III: Impacts of Non-Buddhist Influences, Doctrines. Leiden: Brill. Access 
  • 2023. "Dependency at the Centre and Periphery of the Tibetan Empire: Sayings, Doings and Interagency." BCDSS Working Papers 12. Open access
  • 2023. "On the Margins: Between Beliefs and Doctrines Within Tibetan-Ruled Dunhuang Scribal Culture." BuddhistRoad Paper 1.6. Open access
  • 2023. "Tibetan Ritual Texts and the Uṣnīṣavijayādhāraṇī on the First Panel of IOL Tib J 466." BuddhistRoad Paper 2.7. Open access
  • 2023. "Redescribing Two Old Tibetan Prayers with J. Z. Smith." In Thinking with J. Z. Smith: Mapping Methods in the Study of Religion, edited by Barbara Krawcowicz, 105–117. Sheffield: Equinox. 
  • 2023. "Buddhism and Kingship." In Oxford Bibliographies, subject: Buddhism, edited by Richard K. Payne. New York: Oxford University Press. Access 
  • 2021. Bringing Buddhism to Tibet: History and Narrative in the dBa’ bzhed Manuscript. Berlin: De Gruyter. Open access
  • 2021. with Quentin Devers and Emanuela Garatti. New Research on Old Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Panel Old Tibetan Studies VI – IATS 2019, special issue of Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 60.
  • 2021. "Text, Act and Subject: A Proposed Approach to the Future Study of Old Tibetan Prayer." In Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 60: 49–83.
  • 2020. "Tibet." In  A Companion to the Global Early Middle Ages, edited by Erik Hermans, 191–223. Leeds: Arc Humanities. 
  • 2019. "The Degraded Emperor: Theoretical Reflections on the Upstaging of a Bodhisattva King." In Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 49: 13–66.
  • 2014. The Zangs gling ma: The First Padmasambhava Biography. Two Exemplars of its Earliest Attested Recension. Series Monumenta Tibetica Historica, abteilung 2 (Vitae), band 3. Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies (IITBS).
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