Jacob Dalton

Jacob Dalton

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: Religion

Competition: US & Canada

University of California, Berkeley

Jacob Dalton, Khyentse Foundation Distinguished University Professor in Tibetan Buddhism, teaches in the departments of East Asian Lanuages and Cultures and South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also an active member of Berkeley’s Group in Buddhist Studies.  He received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan in 2002.  After working for three years (2002–2005) as a researcher with the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, he taught at Yale University (2005–2008) before moving to Berkeley.  He also served as Numata Visiting Professor at the University of Hamburg in Spring 2008.  His research interests include Tibetan religious history, tantric ritual, early Tibetan paleography, and the Dunhuang manuscripts.

His first monograph, The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism (Yale UP, 2011), was awarded the E. Gene Smith Prize on Inner Asia and the Bernard S. Cohn Prize in South Asian Studies.  The book examines the mythic and ritual themes of violence, demon taming, and blood sacrifice in the formation of Tibetan Buddhism.  In his second, forthcoming monograph, Through the Eyes of the Compendium of Intentions: The History of a Tibetan Tantra (currently under review with Columbia University Press), he traces the vicissitudes of a single ritual system from its ninth-century origins in Gilgit in modern-day Pakistan, through the rise of the Dalai Lamas in the seventeenth century, and into the Tibetan exile communities of present-day South India.  He is also co-author of Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Stein Collection at the British Library (Brill, 2006).

In recent years, Dalton has received a number of awards and has been a Townsend Fellow, a Charles A. Ryskamp Fellow, a Hellman Fellow, a UC President’s Faculty Fellow in the Humanities, an ACLS Fellow, and a Fulbright-Hays Fellow.  With the support of his Guggenheim Fellowship, he will be writing a book on the ninth- and tenth-century tantric manuscripts that were discovered in the “library cave” of Dunhuang.  The book will highlight the rise of ritual manuals in late fifth- and sixth-century India and their formative role in the early development of tantric Buddhism.


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