Frederick M Asher

Frederick Asher 306 Heller Hall Office Hours by appointment

Frederick Asher is a specialist in South Asian art. His current research examines the visual culture of Indian Ocean trade, from the South China Sea to the Swahili Coast prior to 1500. Each of his three most recent books has focused on a Buddhist site in India: Bodhgaya (2008), Nalanda (2015), and Sarnath (2020). His interests include contested religious space, issues related to art as commodity, particularly looking at patterns of trade as they relate to works of art in India, and the historiography of Indian art. He also has examined present-day artists working in traditional modes both because they are interesting in themselves and because they offer models for pre-modern modes of artistic production; they further offer the opportunity to think about the role of the artist in art history that has focused primarily on the product. He has completed a term as Editor-in-Chief of, the electronic journal of the College Art Association, and a term as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He has served as President of the National Committee for the History of Art, and South Asia editor for Archives of Asian Art.

Select publications include:, The Art of Eastern India: 300-800 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, l980); Art of India (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2002); Bodhgaya (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007) “Maurya Figural Sculpture Reconsidered,“ with Walter M. Spink, Ars Orientalis, vol.XIX (1989):1-25; “Artists of Patharkati and Jaipur: Models for Pre-Modern Modes of Production,“ South Asian Studies, vol.XI (1995): 19-26; “Stone and the Production of Images,“ East and West, vol.48 (1998): 313-328; “An Image at Lakhi Serai and Its Implications,“ Artibus Asiae, LIX, 3/4 (2000): 296-302; “Early Indian Art Reconsidered,“ In: Patrick Olivelle, ed. Between The Empires; Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 51-66; “The Shape of Indian Art History,“ In: Vishakha N. Desai, ed. Asian Art History in the Twenty-first Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007, pp. 3-14; “From Place to Site: Locations of the Buddha’s Life,“ Artibus Asiae LXIX, 2 (2009), pp.233-245; “On Maurya Art,“ In: Rebecca M. Brown and Deborah S. Hutton, A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 421-443.

Educational Background & Specialties


  • India
  • sculpture and architecture of South Asia
  • South Asian art
  • trade patterns
  • violence in South Asia
  • contested space in South Asia
Courses Taught
  • ArtH 3014W - Art of India
  • ArtH 5775 - Formation of Indian Art: 2500 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.
  • ArtH 5776 - Redefining Tradition: Indian Art 400 to 1300
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • South Asia Editorial Board: Encyclopedia Britannica
  • International Advisory Committee for the International Centre for the Study of Bengal Art:
  • Editorial Board: Journal of Studies on Ancient India , 1998
  • President: American Institute of Indian Studies , 1994 - 2002
  • Editorial Board: Archives of Asian Art
  • President National Committee for the Histgory of Art: 2008-


  • Contested Space in South Asia: a study of religious structures claimed by the followers of more than one faith, 2002


  • Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art,Executive Committe: 2008-
  • The Bodhgaya Temple: Whose Structure Is It?. Asher, Frederick, fothcoming.
  • Shaping Contestation: The Katra Mound at Mathura.. Asher, Frederick, 2002.
  • Art of India: Prehistory to the Present.. Asher, Frederick, Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2003.
  • Blurring Boundaries: A Muslim Deigner of Hindu Temples. Asher, Frederick, forthcoming.
  • An Ancient Slate Quarry Revisited: A Sourced Located. Asher, Frederick, 2002.
  • Eastern India, 500-1300, a chapter of Art and Architecture in India. Asher, Frederick, forthcoming.
  • Defining Early Indian Art. Asher, Frederick, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • International Center for Study of Bengal Art Honorary Fellow
  • Ford Foundation Challenge Grant for support of the American Institute of Indian Studies
  • Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2005 - 2006