Patrick Dowd

Orality and textuality, Tibetan language, cultural Tibet and the Himalayas, curriculum development

Research summary:

My research concerns the contemporary life of Tibetan language, spoken throughout the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau.  Not only does literary Tibetan possess one of the vastest religious corpuses in the world, it also has tremendous diversity in its spoken varieties, causing several Western linguists to argue it is in fact a language family rather than a single, united language. My dissertation focuses on the relationship between the highly revered classical language and the many spoken forms, with the aspiration of promoting this linguistic variety while simultaneously recognizing the shared inheritance of the classical source language. I thereby seek to contribute to a larger understanding of the relationship between orality and textuality, the transmission of language and culture through time and space, and the power of language more broadly.

Patrick Dowd is a first-year doctoral student focusing on Tibetan language revitalization in Tibet and the Tibetic speaking Himalayas. He completed a M.S.Ed at the University of Pennsylvania centered on the same topic in August 2017. He has spent more than four years studying and researching with Tibetan communities in India, Nepal, and Tibet. On his graduation from UPenn, Patrick directed the funding, writing, illustration and publication of a 100-page Class 3-4 children’s storybook project for youth in Ladakh, a Tibetic speaking region of the high Himalayas of India. This book, which maintains the grammar and spelling of literary Tibetan but uses extensive colloquial, vernacular Ladakhi, was the first of its kind and seeks to provide Ladakhi-centeric, culturally relevant education. He is extremely excited to begin his PhD at UBC.

Phillips Ambassador Alumni Fellowship , 2016
Khyentse Foundation Ashoka Grant , 2017
University of Pennsylvania Penn Global Award , 2016
University of Pennsylvania Center for the Advanced Study of India Research Fellowship , 2016
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for advanced Tibetan , 2015
American Institute for Indian Studies Fellowship for Tibetan , 2013
Fulbright Research Fellowship , 2012
Princeton in Asia Fellowship , 2010