Holly Gayley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, whose research focuses on contemporary Buddhist writings and the revitalization of Tibetan culture in the post-Maoist period.

I became interested in the study of Buddhism through my travels among Tibetan communities in India, Nepal, and China. I completed an M.A. in Buddhist Studies at Naropa University in 2000 and Ph.D. at Harvard University in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies in 2009. My first book titled, Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet, was release in November by Columbia University Press. The book chronicles the lives and love letters of a contemporary Buddhist tantric couple, Khandro Tare Lhamo and Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok, who played a significant role in revitalizing Buddhist in eastern Tibet since the 1980s. Examining Buddhist conceptions of gender, agency and healing, Love Letters from Golok recovers Tibetan voices in representing their own modern history under Chinese rule and contributes to burgeoning scholarly literature on Buddhist women, minorities in China, and studies of collective trauma.

My second project explores the emergence of Buddhist modernism on the Tibetan plateau and a new ethical reform movement led by cleric-scholars at Larung Buddhist Academy in Serta. My recent publications on the topic include “Controversy over Buddhist Ethical Reform: A Secular Critique of Clerical Authority in the Tibetan Blogosphere” (Himalaya Journal, 2016), “Non-Violence as a Shifting Signifier on the Tibetan Plateau” (Contemporary Buddhism, 2016 with Padmatso), “Reimagining Buddhist Ethics on the Tibetan Plateau (Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2013), and “The Ethics of Cultural Survival: A Buddhist Vision of Progress in Mkhan po ‘Jigs phun’s Advice to Tibetans of the 21st Century” in Mapping the Modern in Tibet (International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2011).

Last year, along with CU Boulder colleagues Emily Yeh, Carole McGranahan, and Ariana Maki, I founded the Tibet Himalaya Initiative (THI), an interdisciplinary hub for the study of the region. In the coming year, we will host Himalayan Studies Conference V of the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies at CU Boulder in September 1-4, 2017.

In addition, I am honored to serve for a second time as member of the Steering Committee for the Tsadra Translation and Transmission Conference to be held at CU Boulder, May 31-June 3, 2017.

For a complete list of my publications, visit: