What is it about?

Seizing on the opportunity provided by the Dalai Lama recently hinting at a female successor, this paper delves deep into theorizing a female Dalai Lama. It offers an intersectional tool to examine how such a conception not only overturns patriarchy pertinent in Tibetan Buddhism, but also disrupts the heteropatriarchal religious traditions beyond Tibetan Buddhism. Moreover, it brings to light affirmative imagination for feminist thinking and intervention premised on the understanding of feminisms as engaging with structures of power and systems of oppression.

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Why is it important?

An exploratory study drawing upon the lived experiences of a Tibetan woman to imagine how the revolutionary potential of a Female Dalai Lama serve as an intersectional tool for Tibetan Buddhism and for feminisms, this paper offers a rethinking of the gender binary in leadership, and a radical revisioning of feminist vision for change.


This publication builds on the statement of the current Dalai Lama about the possibility of a female Dalai Lama, and draws on auto-ethnography, that of the personal accounts of the author to expand the scope and scale for critical feminist thinking about patriarchy in religion and gender binary in leadership.

Dhardon Sharling
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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This page is a summary of: Theorizing a Female Dalai Lama: An Intersectional Tool for Feminisms, Anthropology of Consciousness, February 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/anoc.12146.
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