Stefan Larsson. Foto: Niklas Björling.

Stefan Larsson


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E, plan 7
Room E 719
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm


My research revolves around religious biographies and songs, as well as unconventional forms of religion and religious practice. Above all, it is related to Buddhism, particularly its Tibetan form. For example, I am interested in how Buddhism was manifested in Tibet before the fifth Dalai Lama came to power and the institution of the Dalai Lama was established in the seventeenth century.

Thanks to a grant from STINT (the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education), I spent the spring semester of 2005 at the University of Virginia. A few years later, in 2009, I completed my doctorate in the history of religions at Stockholm University with a thesis on a Tibetan Buddhist “crazy yogi”.

Between 2010 and 2012, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Berkeley, funded by the Swedish Research Council. In 2012, a revised version of my thesis was published by Brill, and since I returned from Berkeley, I have been working as a lecturer at the Section for the History of Religions.

In the summer of 2014, I started a three-year research project called “Outside the Monastery Walls”, in which I explore how Buddhist songs and biographies were used to promote alternative forms of practice and ideals in sixteenth-century Tibet. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2015. Stefan Larsson, Andrew Quintman. Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines (32), 87-151
  • 2013. Stefan Larsson. Proceedings of the Seventh Nordic Tibet Research Conference Helsinki 2009, 69-87
  • 2012. Stefan Larsson.

    In his early twenties, the Tibetan monk Sangyé Gyaltsen (1452–1507) left his monastery to become a wandering tantric yogin. As he moved from place to place, seeking enlightenment beyond the bounds of monasticism, his behavior became increasingly erratic. While some were shocked or even angered by his actions, others were drawn to him. Sangyé Gyaltsen’s followers described his transgressive behaviors as enlightened action, rooted in authoritative Buddhist scripture. Using biographical sources, Stefan Larsson explores Sangyé Gyaltsen’s transformation into the charismatic ‘Madman of Tsang,’ Tsangnyön Heruka.


    Best known today as the author of the Life of Milarepa, Tsangnyön Heruka was one of the most influential mad yogins of Tibet. His biography brings its reader face-to-face with an unexpected aspect of Buddhist practice that flourished in fifteenth-century Tibet.

Show all publications by Stefan Larsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: July 27, 2018

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