• William Bodiford
    Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures
    William M. Bodiford teaches courses on religion in the cultures of Japan and East Asia, and Buddhist Studies. His research spans the medieval, early modern, and contemporary periods of Japanese history. Currently he is investigating religion during the Tokugawa period, especially those aspects of Japanese culture associated with manuscripts, printing, secrecy, education, and proselytizing. Although many of his publications focus on Zen Buddhism (especially Soto Zen), he also researches Tendai and Vinaya Buddhist traditions, Shinto, folklore and popular religions, as well as Japanese martial arts and traditional approaches to health and physical culture. He is the author of Soto Zen in Medieval Japan (University of Hawai’i Press, 1993), of numerous articles on Dōgen and medieval Buddhism, and editor of several books on Buddhism including Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya (University of Hawai’i Press, 2005).

  • Robert L. Brown
    Professor, Department of Art History; CSEAS Director, 2005-06

    Robert Brown graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in Indian art history in 1981.  Immediately after graduation he worked at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, being promoted to Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art in 1984. In 1986 he began teaching at UCLA where he is presently Professor of Art History.  In 2001 he was reappointed as Curator in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Art at LACMA, a position he holds alongside his UCLA professorship. 

    His research extends over broad geographical areas and chronological periods. Four recent publications include three edited books, Art from Thailand (Marg 1999), Roots of Tantra (SUNY 2002), the Encyclopedia of India, 4 vols. (senior editor Stanley Wolpert; Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2005), and with Natasha Eilenberg a translated book study on the Art of Ancient Cambodia (Reyum 2008).  At UCLA he has trained over twenty PhD graduate students who now hold positions in major museums and universities throughout the US.

  • Natasha Heller
    Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures
    Natasha Heller has studied at Brown University (BA, Religious Studies) the University of Michigan (MA, Buddhist Studies), and Harvard University (PhD, East Asian Languages and Civilizations). Before arriving at UCLA, she spent two years as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research engages the relationship between Buddhism and secular culture in China from the Tang dynasty through the Ming. She is currently at work on a monograph that explores the cultural competencies necessary to be a successful monk through the life of the Yuan-dynasty Chan master Zhongfeng Mingben. Other projects in progress also take up the interface between Buddhism and culture, ranging from the reception of a ritual commemoration written by lay Buddhist of the early Ming dynasty, to an examination of rites for rain in monastic codes, to Buddhist themes in tales of injustice and retribution. Her most recent publication is “The Chan Master as Illusionist: Zhongfeng Mingben’s Huanzhu Jiaxun,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 69.2.

  • Stephanie Jamison
    Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures

    Stephanie Jamison was originally trained as a historical and Indo-European linguist (PhD Yale 1977), but for many years she has concentrated on Indo-Iranian, especially (Vedic) Sanskrit and Middle Indo-Aryan languages and textual materials. She works not only on language and linguistics, but also literature and poetics, religion and law, mythology and ritual, and gender studies in these languages. She is also interested in comparative mythology and poetics, especially with Greek materials. Professor Jamison's teaching at UCLA spans these topics, including Sanskrit, Middle Indo-Aryan, and Old Iranian language and literature, Indo-European and Indo-Iranian linguistics, and undergraduate courses on Classical Indian civilization. Her current major project, jointly with Joel P. Brereton (University of Texas, Austin), is a complete new English translation of the oldest Sanskrit text, the Rig Veda.

    Book Publications

    The Rig Veda between Two Worlds: Four Lectures at the Collège de France, May 2004. 

    Collège de France, Publications de l'Institut de Civilisation Indienne, fasc. 74. 2007.

    Sacrificed Wife / Sacrificer's Wife: Women, Ritual, and Hospitality in Ancient India.  Oxford University Press. 1996

    The Ravenous Hyenas and the Wounded Sun: Myth and Ritual in Ancient India.  Cornell University Press. 1991.

    Function and Form in the -áya-formations of the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda.  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 1983.

  • Nancy Levine
    Professor, Department of Anthropology

    Nancy Levine received her PhD from University of Rochester in 1978. Working in the field of Socio-Cultural Anthropology, her research interests include kinship and domestic economy, demography, social change, and gender in the regions of Tibet and Central Asia. Her major projects include three and half years of research on household economy, population dynamics, gender systems, and social change in northwestern Nepal. She has also conducted briefer studies on the impact of government reforms on family structure and domestic economy among Western Tibetan agriculturalists, Tibet Autonomous Region, and on the impacts of transitions to a market economy and policies of sedentarization on ethnic Tibetan nomadic pastoralists in Sichuan and Qinghai Provinces, China.


     1987 "Differential Child Care in Three Tibetan Communities: Beyond Son Preference." Population and Development Review. 13(2).

    1987 "Caste, State and Ethnic Boundaries in Nepal." Journal of Asian Studies 46:71-88.

    1988 The Dynamics of Polyandry. University of Chicago Press.

    1997 with J. Silk. "Why Polyandry Fails: Sources of Instability in Polyandrous Marriages." Current Anthropology 38:375-398.

    1999 "Cattle and the Cash Economy: Responses to Change Among Tibetan Nomadic Pastoralists." Human Organization 58:161-172.

    2008 "Alternative Kinship, Marriage, and Reproduction." Annual Review of Anthropology 37:375-89.

  • Donald McCallum
    Professor Emeritus, Art History
    Donald McCallum, Professor in the Department of Art History. His publications include Zenkōji and Its Icon: A Study in Medieval Japanese Religious Art (Princeton University Press, 1994), The Four Great Temples: Buddhist Archaeology, Architecture, and Icons of Seventh-Century Japan (University of Hawai'i Press, 2009), and Hakuhō Sculpture (University of Washington Press) which is due to be released in January, 2012. He is currently working on four publications: Seiryōji and Its Icon:  A Study in Asian Buddhist Art; "Fujiwarakyō: Japan's First Great Capital", which is a long article or short monograph dealing with the recent discoveries at the Fujiwarakyō site of the seventh century; "The Yakushiji Shō Kannon", another long article continuing and expanding some of the themes treated in Hakuhō Sculpture; and Matsumoto Shunsuke: "The Living Painter, which is a study of one of the great painters of modern Japan. (Professor Emeritus)

  • Sherry B. Ortner
    Professor, Department of Anthropology

    Sherry B. Ortner is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. She received her BA from Bryn Mawr College, and her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago. Before coming to UCLA in 2004, she taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Michigan, the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University. She has received numerous grants and fellowships, including awards from the National Science Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She has done extensive fieldwork with the Sherpas of Nepal, on religion, politics, and the Sherpas’ involvement in Himalayan mountaineering. Her book, Life and Death on Mount Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering, was awarded the J. I. Staley prize as the best anthropology book of 2004.

    Ortner has more recently shifted her research to the United States. Her first project focused on class in the United States, using her own high school graduating class as her ethnographic subjects. She is currently completing a project on the relationship between independent film and American culture. She also publishes regularly in the areas of cultural theory and feminist theory. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded the Retzius Medal of the Society of Anthropology and Geography of Sweden.

    Selected Publications   
    Forthcoming: Serious Games: Rethinking Practice Theory. Duke University Press.
    2003. New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture, and the Class of E8. Duke University Press
    1999 Life and Death on Mount Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering. Princeton University Press.
    1999 (ed.) The Fate of CultureE Geertz and Beyond. University of California Press.
    1996 Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture. Beacon Press.
    1994 Culture/Power/History: A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory (co-edited with N.B. Dirks and G. Eley), Princeton University Press.
    1989 High Religion: A Cultural and Political History of Sherpa Buddhism. Princeton University Press.
    1981 Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality (co-edited with Harriet Whitehead), Cambridge University Press.
    1978 Sherpas through their Rituals. Cambridge University Press.

  • Lobsang Rapgay
    Research Psychologist, Director of the Clinical Training program for Mental Health Professionals at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, UCLA

    Lobsang Rapgay is research psychologist at UCLA and director of the Clinical Training program for Mental Health Professionals at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, UCLA. Born in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1958 the 4-year-old Rapgay and his family fled the approach of Chinese soldiers with a caravan of refugees on a seven-day trek into the Himalayas. They settled in Dharamsala, India, which would become the home-in-exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government. After completing studies at a Catholic boarding school and Delhi University, where he trained as a Buddhist monk, Rapgay in 1978 became a deputy secretary and English-language interpreter for His Holiness. At the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Medicine and Astrology Institute, Rapgay began learning ancient Buddhist meditative practices. He earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and wrote four books, including "Tibetan Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Better Health," before coming to California to study psychoanalysis. Rapgay joined the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in 1996 and kept his monastic vows until 2000.

  • Gregory Schopen
    Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures

    Gregory Schopen work focuses on Indian Buddhist monastic life and early Mahāyāna movements. By looking beyond the Pali Canon in favor of less commonly used sources such as the Mūlasarvāstivāda-vinaya and Indian Buddhist stone inscriptions, his numerous scholarly works have shifted the field away from Buddhism as portrayed through its own doctrines toward a more realistic picture of the actual lives of Buddhists, both monastic and lay. In this sense, he has seriously challenged many assumptions and myths about Buddhism that were first perpetuated in earlier Western scholarship. In 1985 he received the MacArthur Grant for his work in the field of History of Religion. Many of his articles have been published in three volumes dedicated to his work: Figments and Fragments of Mahayana Buddhism in India (University of Hawai'i Press, 2005), Buddhist Monks and Business Matters (University of Hawai'i Press, 2004), and Bones, Stones and Buddhist Monks (University of Hawai'i Press, 1997). In addition to his major impact on Buddhist studies as well as the larger field of Religious Studies, Dr. Schopen continues to be a dominant force on the basketball court for the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA.

  • Richard Strassberg
    Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures


    Ph.D., Princeton University, 1975 (East Asian Studies/Chinese Literature)


    Chinese literature.


    The World of K'ung Shang-ren: A Man of Letters in Early Ch'ing China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983)

    Enlightening Remarks on Painting by Shih-t'ao (Pasadena: Pacific Asia Museum, 1989)

    Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)

    A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas (University of California Press, 2003).

Center for Buddhist Studies • 11385 Bunche Hall • Box 951487 • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1487
Tel: (310) 825-2089 • Fax: (310) 206-3555 • Email: buddhist@international.ucla.edu

top of page

© 2015 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use / Privacy Policy