Dr Theresia Hofer

Theresia Hofer



Research Affiliate

Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Bristol
Member, Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Centre, Wolfson College

Teaching and research interests

Social & medical anthropology; international development, global health & disability; women’s & children’s health; gender; sign languages and deaf identity; collaborative research methodologies & applied anthropology; anthropological approaches to memory; museum anthropology; greater Himalayan region & Tibetan areas of China; South & East Asia

Theresia Hofer is a social and medical anthropologist trained at the University of Vienna, Brunel University, University College London, and at Tibet University in Lhasa. After her graduate and doctoral research on rural primary health care, Tibetan medicine and memories of Communist reforms in Central Tibet, Theresia worked as curator of the Bodies in Balance – The Art of Tibetan Medicine exhibition in New York and held a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Oslo, working on gender and healthcare in Tibet. Her current work studies the newly emergent Lhasa-variant of Tibetan Sign Language  (TSL) and explores issues of embodiment, deaf identity, language ideologies, and signifying embodied movement.

Her work has been covered widely in the press, radio and television, among others, the New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and New York Public Radio.



2016. Medicine on the Margins: Memory, Agency and Reform in Tibet. University of Washington Press. (forthcoming)

2014. Bodies in Balance - The Art of Tibetan Medicine. New York and Seattle: Rubin Museum of Art & University of Washington Press, 326 pp., 250 illus., 150 colour, 10 x 12 in, ISBN: 978-0-295-99359-1

2012. The Inheritance of Change – Transmission and Practice of Tibetan Medicine in Ngamring. Vienna: Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde, 418 pp., 37 colour and b/w photographs, ISBN: 978-3-902501-14-1.

Special Issue of peer reviewed journal:

2011. Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity Vol. 6(2), Special issue on Women and Gender in Tibetan Medicine (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers), 258 pp., 99 colour illus. together with Heidi Fjeld..

Selected peer-reviewed journal articles

2016, forthcoming. ‘Is Lhasa Tibetan Sign Language (TSL) Emerging, Endangered, or Both? Notes on TSL’s History, Linguistic Vitality and Tibetan Signers in the Tibet Autonomous Region’. International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

2015. ‘Gender and Medicine in Kham: An analysis of the Medical Work and Life of Derge Phurpa Dolma’. Revue d’Etudes Tibetaines.

2015. ‘(Co)Producing Efficacious Medicines: Collaborative Event Ethnography with Tibetan Medicine Practitioners in Kathmandu, Nepal’. C. Blaikie, S. Craig, B. Gerke and T. HoferCurrent Anthropology 56(2): 178-204.

2011. ‘Introduction – Women and Gender in Tibetan Medicine’, Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity, 6(2): 175-216, H. Fjeld and T. Hofer.

2008a. ‘Socio-economic Dimensions of Tibetan Medicine in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China – Part Two, Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 4(2):174– 200

2008b. ‘Socio-economic Dimensions of Tibetan medicine in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China – Part One, Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity, Brill: Leiden, 4(1): 492-514

Contributions to edited volumes

2015. ‘Bodies in Balance and Biographies of Objects: The Art of Tibetan Medicine.’ In: Havnevik, H. and C. Ramble: From Bhakti to Bon – Festschrift for Per Kvaerne. Oslo: Novus Forlag. 

2015. ‘Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine.’ In: Ramble, C. and U. Roessler (Eds) Tibetan & Himalayan Healing: An Anthology for Anthony Aris. Kathmandu: Vajra Books

2014. ‘Introduction: Tibetan medicine, Buddhism and the Visual Arts in Tibet.’ In: Hofer, T. (Ed.) Bodies in Balance - The Art of Tibetan Medicine, New York and Seattle: Rubin Museum of Art & University of Washington Press, pp. 3-14

2014. ‘Foundations of Tibetan Pharmacology and the Compounding of Tibetan Medicines.’ In: Hofer, T. (Ed.) Bodies in Balance - The Art of Tibetan Medicine, New York and Seattle: Rubin Museum of Art & University of Washington Press, pp. 46-63

2014‘Illustrated Materia Medica Prints, Manuscripts and Modern Books’, In: Hofer, T. (Ed.) Bodies in Balance - The Art of Tibetan Medicine, New York and Seattle: Rubin Museum of Art &University of Washington Press, pp. 226-245             

2014. ‘Pillars of Tibetan Medicine – History and Architecture of the Chagpori and Mentsikhang Medical Institutes in Lhasa’ (together with Knud Larsen) In: Hofer, T. (Ed.) Bodies in Balance - The Art of Tibetan Medicine, New York and Seattle: Rubin Museum of Art & University of Washington Press, pp. 257-267

2011. ‘Changing Representations of the Female Tibetan Medical Doctor Khandro Yangkar (1907–1973)’. In: Alex McKay and Anna Balicki-Dengjongpa (eds.) Buddhist Himalayas: Studies in Religion, History and Culture. Proceedings of the Golden Jubilee Conference of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology Gangtok, 2008, Vol. I: Tibet and the Himalaya. Gangtok: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, pp. 99–122

2007. ‘Preliminary Investigations into New Oral and Textual Sources on Byang lugs - the ‘Northern School’ of Tibetan medicine.’ In: Mona Schrempf (ed.) Soundings in Tibetan Medicine - Historical and Anthropological Explorations. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 373–410

2006.  ‘Die tibetischen Medizintraditionen aus Ngamring und deren Einfluss auf das medizinische Werk von Desi Sangye Gyatso (1653-1705), in: Andre Gingrich and Guntram Hazod (eds.) Der Rand und die Mitte - Beiträge zur Sozialanthropologie und Kulturgeschichte Tibets und des Himalaya. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Publications, pp. 78–101

2001. ‘Health Care and Medical Systems in the Karakorum and Himalayan Region’ (together with Stephanie Rungaldier). In: Mountain Association (ed.) Encounters – Integrated Regional development in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan. Vienna: Mountains 2001 – Regional Perspectives, pp. 291–307

List of site pages