Gutschow with nuns Dr. Kim Gutschow

Professor, Anthropology of Public Health Center for Modern Indian Studies, Goettingen University, Germany

Lecturer in Religion and Anthropology/Sociology, Williams College, USA

Kim Gutschow is Honorary Editor of Ladakh Studies. She is also Project Coordinator for the NGO Gaden Relief Projects.

Prof. Gutschow's CV (PDF)
Prof. Gutschow's Publications (PDF)
Prof. Gutschow's Research Prospectus (PDF)
Prof. Gutschow's Courses and Seminars (PDF)

Visit her blog at


Kim Gutschow is a Professor at the University of Goettingen in Germany as well as a Lecturer at Williams College. She teaches at Williams College in the fall semester and at Goettingen University in the spring semester, and spends the rest of her time working in Ladakh. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University's Department of Anthropology in 1998, completed a post-doc at Harvard University's Society of Fellows, and taught at Brandeis, Wesleyan, and Harvard Universities before coming to Williams College.

Her research interests include Medical Anthropology, gender and reproduction, maternal health, Buddhism, South Asian and Himalayan religions, the body, ritual & power, and Tibetan medicine. Her scholarship includes two decades of fieldwork in the Indian Himalayas, Nepal, and Thailand. She is the Project Coordinator of Gaden Relief Nuns' Project, and has worked in Nepal on women's health and education, and in Thailand with refugees from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Her first book, Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas penetrates the contradictions between Buddhist practice and doctrine with vivid oral narratives and thick description of daily life amid a harsh Himalayan landscape. Her ethnography reveals an enduring gender hierarchy in which monks bless and purify the fields and houses where nuns toil. In explaining Buddhist merit making in terms of butter and barley, she concludes that Buddhist monasticism reflects the very world it was supposed to renounce. "The book raises questions that are significant far beyond the Himalayas, ranging from the usual questions of gender…for which Kim Gutschow offers new answers, to the not-so-usual questions of celibacy, in which she sees newly relevant values," says Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago.

Gutschow's current research projects consider how practices and policies in reproductive health can lie directly at odds with an ideological commitment to evidence‐based medicine and the injunction to do no harm. She lives with her husband and three children in the US and Germany, when not in India.

More on Gutschow's Research

Gutschow's Publications about Zangskari Nuns


The Women Who Refuse to Be Exchanged (PDF)
Yeshe's Tibetan Pilgrimage and the Founding of a Himalayan Nunnery (PDF)
The Delusion of Gender and Renunciation in Buddhist Kashmir (PDF)
The Politics of Being Buddhist in Zangskar: Partition and Today (PDF)
How Buddhist Renunciation Produces Difference (PDF)
What Makes a Nun? Apprenticeship and Ritual Passage in Zangskar, North India (PDF)


Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas
published by the Harvard University Press (2004)

Preview the Preface and Chapter 1: Gendering Monasticism (PDF)