Stacey Van Vleet

Assistant Professor

I am a historian of Tibet and Inner Asia. My research and teaching are concerned with the place of Tibet in regional and global histories, and with how Tibetan historiography - and relatedly, that of contemporary states including China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Russia - has been shaped by modern transformations in knowledge, economy, culture, and governance.

My book in progress, The World the Medicine Buddha Built: Tibetan Medical Governance in Qing Inner Asia, examines the rise of a vast network of Tibetan medical institutions across Inner Asia during the period of Qing Empire (1644-1911), and its central role in imperial governance as well as in early twentieth-century state-building projects across the Tibetan Buddhist world. By charting different approaches to medical and social reform in the wake of Qing imperial disintegration, my work considers how efforts to redraw the boundaries of knowledge and community became constitutive of the politics of modern China and Tibet.

Before coming to Berkeley, I taught as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. I have lived, studied, worked and traveled in many places across the Tibetan Buddhist world for over two decades.

Currently I serve on the editorial board for the Papers on Inner Asia of the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (Indiana University), which welcomes submissions.

Research Interests

History of Tibet and Inner Asia; Sino-Tibetan relations; history of science, technology, and medicine; history of religion and secularism; race and ethnicity; institutions; popular culture; manuscripts and printing; borderlands and networks; governance under imperial and national formations.


PhD, Columbia University, History-East Asia

MA, University of Colorado, Boulder, Anthropology

AB, Duke University, Public Policy Studies

Representative Publications

“Medical Culture and Manuscript Culture,” in Tibetan Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, ed. Matthew T. Kapstein (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2024), 97-110.

“Strength, Defence, and Victory in Battle: Tibetan Medical Institutions and the Ganden Phodrang Army, 1897–1938.” Special issue: Buddhism and the Military in Tibet during the Ganden Phodrang Period (1642-1959), Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 27 (2018): 173-210. 

"Medicine as Impartial Knowledge: The Fifth Dalai Lama, the Tsarong School, and Debates of Tibetan Medical Orthodoxy," in The Tenth Karmapa and Tibet's Turbulent Seventeenth Century, ed. Karl Debreczeny and Gray Tuttle (Chicago: SerIndia Publications, 2016), 263-291.

“An Introduction to ‘Music to Delight All the Sages,’ the Medical History of Drakkar Taso Trulku Chökyi Wangchuk (1775-1837),” Bulletin of Tibetology 48.2 (December 2012): 55-79.

“Children’s Healthcare and Astrology in the Nurturing of a Central Tibetan Nation-State, 1916-24.” Special Issue: Gender, Health and Medicine in Tibet, Asian Medicine 6.2 (November 2011): 348-386.

Recent Awards & Fellowships

Society of Hellman Fellows award, 2023-2024

Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), 2018-2019

Postdoctoral Fellow, D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia, 2018-2019

Fellow, Harvard University, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, 2018-2019

Stacey Van Vleet


3211 Dwinelle

Office Hours