Obituary Elisabeth Hofstätter

by Karin Preisendanz

Elisabeth Hofstätter died on 15 February 2019 after a short but severe illness. In her passing away, the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies of the University of Vienna has lost an excellent graduate, a committed sessional lecturer of many years and an extremely lovable colleague.

Hofstätter ideally combined Indology and Religious Studies in a double degree course at the University of Vienna, which she completed in the field of Indology in 2000 with a diploma thesis on quotations and the style of quoting in Madhva's Bhagavadgītābhāṣya, and in the field of Religious Studies in 2002 with a diploma thesis entitled "Die Göttin Kālī in Ost und West: von der blutrünstigen Stammesgöttin zur Galeonsfigur der Frauenemanzipation" ("The Goddess Kālī in East and West: from the bloodthirsty tribal goddess to the galleon figure of women's emancipation"). This was followed by a doctorate in Indology. The dissertation with the title "Erleuchtung durch göttliche Energie: Untersuchung der Lehre von 'śaktipāta' anhand einer annotierten Übersetzung des XIII. Āhnika-s von Abhinavaguptas Tantrāloka" ("Enlightenment through divine energy: investigation into the 'śaktipāta' teaching on the basis of an annotated translation of the XIIIth Āhnika of Abhinavagupta's Tantrāloka"), comprising a total of nearly 700 pages, was submitted and successfully defended in 2005, and published by the Südwestdeutscher Verlag für Hochschulschriften in 2017.

The following years witnessed, inter alia, the publication of several book chapters in the area of spirituality, religion and culture at the sickbed and in the hospital, on aging and healing in religions, and on the spiritual renaissance in medicine. All these topics belong to the medical field, in which Hofstätter worked as a biomedical analyst alongside her university studies and scholarly research, and this with great success. She was also engaged tirelessly in imparting interreligious and intercultural competence to the staff of the Wiener Krankenanstaltenverbund (Vienna Hospital Association) by giving lectures on pertinent topics of Religious Studies and South Asian Studies, and by conducting relevant courses.

In 2006, Hofstätter’s commitment was honored with the Health Award of the City of Vienna in the category "Medien/Öffentlichkeitsarbeit" ("Media / Public Relations work") for a project on interculturality and interreligiosity in hospitals. Most recently, she worked as a divisional coordinator for the central ombuds office of the general management of the Wiener Krankenanstaltenverbund.

In 2015, Hofstätter completed another doctoral program with a dissertation within the framework of the doctoral college "Palliative Care and Organizational Ethics" at the Institute for Palliative Care and Organizational Ethics of the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Research and Continuing Education, Vienna, of the University of Klagenfurt, entitled "Lernziel: 'Spiritueller Mensch'? Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Bildungsangeboten in Spiritual Care" ("Learning goal: 'Spiritual man'? A critical examination of educational offers in spiritual care").

Between the winter semester of 2003/2004 and the summer semester of 2010, Hofstätter regularly contributed to the Department's courses with popular classes in the field of Gender Studies (e.g., on Indian goddesses in East and West, on the role of the female in Hindu Tantrism, and on the goddess Kālī) and Kashmir Shaivism.

As a long-standing member of the Association of the De Nobili Research Library, Hofstätter served as auditor for several periods.