Early interest in Tibetan studies originated with what Samuel called the “theosophical fascination with ancient Himalayan sages”, and a perception of Tibet as a sort of “exotic spiritual museum”, insulated from the world. This ‘view up to the plateau’ has now evolved in to a ‘view from the plateau’ – not only has interest in Tibet broadened far beyond Buddhism, but Tibetan studies are no longer Western-directed, and are now also inclusive of Tibetan and other scholars. Samuel concluded by asking: “Are we a community at all, and do we have common interests to pursue?” To which he answered in the positive: “Australian scholars of Tibet and the Himalayas, although scattered across many disciplines, depend on each other to maintain the critical mass of expertise that is vital to the production of world-class scholarship”.
Exemplary of the broader, more interdisciplinary nature of ‘new’ Tibetan studies in Australia is the work of Catherine Schuetze. She has been a practicing veterinarian in the Himalayan region for fifteen years and turned to social sciences to develop a better understanding of human-animal relations in the Tibetan context. Schuetze is currently researching several facets of human-animal relations, and developing methods and concepts in veterinary anthropology. Her approach looks at animals through several lenses and narratives: the place of animals in Tibetan medicine; their place in the perspective of Tibetan herdsmen; the Buddhist commitment to kindness to all sentient beings; and the current state of veterinary practice in Tibet, which, though predominantly concerned with livestock, also has an emerging focus on companion animals. Schuertze is currently training Tibetan veterinarians in companion animal veterinary medicine, as well as training herdsmen in administering their own treatments to animals. Her work also involves recording rituals dedicated to the pacification of local deities and to keeping herds healthy, and other rituals involving animals. Finally, her work involves the compilation of a glossary and bibliography of Tibetan veterinary medicine.[Source]