Current Institutional Affiliation
Postdoctoral Fellow, History, Washington University in St. Louis

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Columbia University
Monasteries, Merchants, and Transnational Networks: Tibet and the Global Economy 1905 to 1959

My research explores the monastery as an economic institution by demonstrating how in Kardze Prefecture on the Sino-Tibetan frontier monasteries were not only centers of religious and political power but also active participants in transnational economies with sophisticated bureaucracies governing their economic activities. My primary case study, Dargye Monastery in Kardze Prefecture, was one of these quintessential economic centers that engaged in commerce, long distance trade, organized money lending, and even the printing of paper currency. This monastery took advantage of the unprecedented influx of foreign goods following the British-led trade mission to Lhasa in 1905. This mission sparked a period of economic growth on the Tibetan Plateau until Tibet's integration into the Peoples Republic of China in 1959. Monasteries represented a localized node of transnational contact within spheres of long distance economic networks; their growth sparked by the simultaneous emergence of the "global economy" and the "nation-state". Monasteries were empowered within the multi-focal global economy, influenced by the 20th century transnational economic networks and using them to their advantage. Founded on never before used sources in Tibetan and Chinese, this dissertation demonstrates how a single monastery wielded economic power and controlled economic agents spanning transnational economic networks throughout China, Tibet, and India.