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Religion

Religion | International & Area Studies | Humanities

Education

Ph.D. University of Virginia
M.A. University of Virginia
B.A. Universitat Pompeu Fabra

I am a scholar of Buddhism with a particular regional focus on Tibet and the Himalayas (Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal). I am an Assistant Professor of Religion at New College of Florida, where I teach courses on Buddhism, Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhism, Buddhist Contemplative Systems, Hinduism, and Asian Religions in general. I am also interested in the intersection of religion and popular culture and write about it in a blog.

I am currently working on a research project that explores the changes in the monastic curriculum that have taken place in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan over the last few decades. This project is a collaboration with Prof. Dorji Gyeltshen, of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSWSL). In order to work on this project, we are visiting monastic institutions in Bhutan, both Nyingma (such as Tamzhing Lhündrup Monastery) and Drukpa Kagyu (such as Tango University), to see if there have been significant changes (in texts used, in what the monks learn, in pedagogical techniques, etc.), and what those changes are. We are also exploring this issue in the larger context of the curricular changes that have occurred all throughout the Buddhist world in the 20th century (including Tibet, China, and Taiwan). The first research trip for this project took place during the summer of 2018.

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University Pompey Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain and my graduate work at the University of Virginia. I also have extensive experience studying in Asia. Between 1999 and 2001, I studied Tibetan and Chinese as well as Buddhism and Tibetan literature at Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou (Gansu Province), and at Tibet University, in Lhasa (Tibetan Autonomous Region). In 2013 I studied and did field research for my dissertation at Minzu University of China. Between 2003 and 2009 I also worked as director and lecturer of the SIT Study Abroad Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Program, based in Kathmandu, Nepal, which allowed me to experience and study the rich diversity of the religious traditions across the Himalayas, as I lived, worked, and traveled in Northern India (Dharamsala), Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet itself.

Recent Courses

Buddhism for Beginners: The Buddha, his Quest for Enlightenment, and the Rise of a Global Religion
The Many Gods of Hinduism: Ritual, Faith, and Representation in India
Zombies, Handmaids, and Superheroes: Religion in Popular Culture
Buddhist Scriptures
Emperors, Monks, and Samurais: Introduction to Japanese Religions
Buddhism in the Himalayas
Introduction to Chinese Religions

Website

Selected Publications

Books

Forthcoming: Monastic Education in Bhutan: Tradition and Transformation in the 21st Century.

Peer-Reviewed Articles
Book Chapters
  • Gyeltshen, Dorji, and Manuel Lopez, “If You Build Them, They Will Come: The Transformation of Female Monastic Education in Contemporary Bhutan.” In the Jacobsen, Knut A. Routledge Handbook of South Asian Religions. Milton: Taylor & Francis Group, 2020.
  • Gyeltshen, Dorji, and Manuel Lopez, “So Old and Yet So New: Buddhist Education and the Monastic Curriculum in Contemporary Bhutan.” In Proceedings of the Fifteenth Seminar of the IATS, 2019. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. Accepted.
Book Reviews
Selected Press
  • Understanding COVID-19 Interdisciplinary course. Article in the Sarasota paper The Observer about the class that Cal Murgu and I organized to try to understand the history and effects of pandemics, with a particular focus on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
  • Interview regarding protests against Vice-President Mike Pence using the iconic costumes from The Handmaid’s Tale (2018): 香港01HK01(A Hong Kong Newspaper)
  • Interview on the HBO series The Leftovers (2018): RNS Religion News Service.
  • Green Legacy Hiroshima Project (2017): Sarasota Magazine, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, FOX 13 News.