Tyler A. Lehrer

Position title: Lecturer: History 308 – Introduction to Buddhism

Email: tlehrer@wisc.edu

Advisors: Anne Hansen and Mou Banerjee
Curriculum Vitae | Website
Office: 5114 Mosse Humanities Building
Mailbox: 4109 Mosse Humanities Building
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00pm (and by appointment via email) in 5114 Mosse Humanities

Tyler A. Lehrer


Hi, I’m Tyler (he/him). I am a historian of early modern Indian Ocean religious and diplomatic networks, and a PhD Candidate in South and Southeast Asian History. My dissertation is being co–supervised by Anne R. Hansen and Mou Banerjee. In 2022, I was a Fulbright U.S. Student Program researcher in Sri Lanka.

My dissertation examines maritime religious and diplomatic connectivity across eighteenth-century Buddhist kingdoms in what are now Sri Lanka and central Thailand, especially as it was mediated and later exploited by the governors and traders of the Dutch East India Company. I am captivated by the ways that Buddhist monastics, monarchs, and especially ordinary people have cultivated and maintained often tenuous networks of cooperation across the Bay of Bengal in the mid-eighteenth century, and how these circulations operate as valuable historical resources as they were—and still are—invoked in subsequent historical writing, and in contemporary disputes throughout Southern Asia in the contexts of gender, ethnicity, and contested visions of pluralist religious modernity. My research is conducted in, and prior language training includes, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Tamil, Thai, and early modern Dutch.

Originally from Northern California, I completed my BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies at the California State University, Sacramento in 2013, and my MA in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016. My previous MA research and first peer-reviewed publication drew on ethnographic research conducted in Sri Lanka during the winter of 2015–16, considering diverse but strategic representations of Buddhist women’s piety in the overlapping contexts of Buddhist women’s ordination disputes (“bhikkhunī ordination”) and gendered nationalist discourse in contemporary South Asian politics.

Prior to graduate school, from 2004 to 2013, I worked as both a general and an assistant manager of a 12+ person retail and production management team. Together, we ran a profitable retail location in the Sacramento, CA metro area of a major printing and shipping corporation, FedEx Office (formerly “Kinko’s”). With extensive experience in people management, human resources, retail financials, customer service, and contract customer relationship management, I oversaw a hub–and–spoke project management team in my guidance of ever-changing operations and objectives, especially as FedEx navigated the 2008 financial crisis.


M.A., 2016, University of Colorado Boulder
B.A., 2013, California State University, Sacramento


  • Southeast Asian History
  • South Asian History

MA Title

  • “Global Networks, Local Aspirations: Gender, Lineage, and Localization in Sri Lanka’s Bhikkhunī Ordination Dispute” (May 2016, Department of Religious Studies, University of Colorado Boulder)

Working Dissertation Title

  • “Dangerous Friendships: Making and Un-Making Maritime Buddhist Connection in Eighteenth-Century Southern Asia “

Selected Publications

Selected Awards

  • 2020–21 Fulbright U.S. Student Program research grant for Sri Lanka
  • Summer 2018 Scott Kloeck-Jenson Pre–Dissertation Travel Fellowship, Institute for Regional and International Studies, UW–Madison (April 2018)
  • Summer 2018 Dissertation Planning Grant, American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies (February 2018)
  • Summer 2017 and Academic Year 2017–2018 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for Intermediate and Advanced Thai, Funded by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, UW–Madison (Mar 2017)
  • Ray Hauser grant for M.A. thesis research in Sri Lanka, Graduate School, CU-Boulder (Mar 2016)
  • Summer 2015 FLAS Fellowship for Intermediate Sinhala, Funded by the South Asia Program, Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell University (Apr 2015)
  • Best Should Teach Silver Award, Graduate Teacher Program, Graduate School, CU-Boulder (Aug 2014)
  • Summer 2014 FLAS Fellowship for Beginning Sinhala, Funded by the Center for Asian Studies, CU-Boulder (Mar 2014)
  • Fellowship for Sanskrit Language Study, Religious Studies Dept., CU-Boulder (Jan 2014)

Professional Affiliations

  • Theravāda Civilizations Project
  • American Academy of Religion
  • American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies
  • Association for Asian Studies

Courses Taught as TA

  • History Lab Coordinator (202002021)
  • History 201 — Travel Writing as Historical Source with Pernille Ipsen (Fall 2019)
  • History/RS 267 – Asian Religions in Global Perspective with Anne R. Hansen (Fall 2018)
  • History/RS 308 – Introduction to Buddhism with Anne R. Hansen (Spring 2019)
  • History/PoliSci 370 – Islam and Politics with Aaron Rock-Singer (Fall 2022)
  • RS 102 – Religion in Sickness and Health with Corrie Norman (Fall 2017)
  • RLST 1850 – Ritual and Media with Holly Gayley (Spring 2014) (CU–Boulder)
  • RLST 2620 – East Asian Religious Traditions with Rodney Taylor (Spring 2015) (CU–Boulder)
  • RLST 2700 – American Indian Religious Traditions with Greg Johnson (Fall 2015) (CU–Boulder)
  • RLST 2700 – American Indian Religious Traditions with Greg Johnson (Fall 2014) (CU–Boulder)
  • RLST 3300 – Foundations of Buddhism with Holly Gayley (Fall 2013) (CU–Boulder)

Courses Taught as Instructor

  • History 201 — Sex and Love in Asian Religions (Summer 2021 and Summer 2023)
  • History/ALC/RS 308 — Introduction to Buddhism (Fall 2021 and Spring 2023)