Dr Kelzang Tashi

Dr Kelzang Tashi

Visiting Fellow

Department of Anthropology

English, Nepali
Key Expertise
South Asia, Bhutan, and the Himalayas

About me

Kelzang Tashi’s research interests lie at the intersection of the anthropology of religion, society, kinship, and the environment, with a regional focus on South Asia, particularly the Himalayas and Tibet. He obtained his PhD in anthropology at the Australian National University in December 2020. Kelzang conducted a one-year long ethnographic fieldwork in villages in central Bhutan where he focused on the tenacity of pre-Buddhist Bon beliefs, as they are lived and contested, in the presence of the invalidating force—Buddhism.

Kelzang’s forthcoming book entitled ‘World of worldly gods: the persistence and transformation of Shamanistic Bon in Buddhist Bhutan’ explores the persistence of Bon beliefs and practices in contemporary Bhutan despite the systematised opposition to Bon from Buddhist priests. Through an analysis of the relationship between Shamanistic Bon and Buddhism, and the contemporary dynamics of Bhutanese society, it tackles the longstanding concern of anthropology: cultural persistence and change, and religious syncretism.

His new research project will investigate the tensions between the system of matrilineal property inheritance and the government policies in Bhutan. Kelzang is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

Expertise Details

Social change; religion and ritual syncretism; kinship and social organisation; environment; education; Bhutan; and the Himalayas.

Selected publications


2022 (in press)- Tashi, T. K. World of worldly gods: the persistence and transformation of Shamanistic Bon in Buddhist Bhutan. (New York: Oxford University Press)

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Under review- Tashi, T. K. Fluid cosmological beings: socioeconomic and environment relations in Bhutanese animist ontology. American Ethnologist.

Tashi, T. K. (2022). Life on the porch: marginality, women, and old age in rural Bhutan. Journal of Anthropological Research, 78(1), 35-58. https://doi.org/10.1086/717846

Tashi, T. K. (2021). The (un)Changing Karma: Pollution Beliefs, Social Stratification, and Reincarnisation in Bhutan. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 22(1), 41-57. https://doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2021.1884125.

Tashi, K. (2015). A quantitative analysis of practice of distributed leadership: Teachers’ perception of their engagement in four dimensions of distributed leadership in Bhutanese schools. Asia Pacific Education Review, 16(3), 353-366. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-015-9387-4