Catherine B Asher
Office Hours - Fall 2014
on leave, I will see anyone by appointment
Catherine Asher is a specialist in Islamic and Indian art from 1200 to the present. She’s well known for her work on the Mughal dynasty (1526-1858), but increasingly is working on the patronage of their successors and predecessors, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Current work focuses on architecture provided by Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Sikhs in cities across north India. Exploring not only architecture but also painting as well as luxury arts, she shows that contrary to common belief these communities were more often in harmony with one another than in adversarial relationships. In addition to urban formations and developments, Catherine Asher is also interested in the shrines that develop around deceased Muslim saints, that is, Sufis, examining the appeal such complexes have for devotees. Those in south India that focus on miraculous healing have much in common with nearby churches and Hindu temples, thus suggesting the development of pan-Indian cultures that transcend religious affiliations. In addition to courses on India, she teaches a wide range of courses on Islamic art and culture. To develop these courses, Catherine Asher has traveled extensively to areas with sizable Muslim populations from Spain to China.
Her books include:
Architecture of Mughal India, India before Europe (co-authored with Cynthia Talbot), Perceptions of South Asia's Visual Past.
Recent articles include:
“The Case of the Jaipur Jami Mosque: Prayer and Politics Disruptive,” Prayer in the City: The Making of Muslim Sacred Places and Urban Life, 2012; “Mapping Hindu-Muslim Identities through the Architecture of Shahjahanabad and Jaipur,” in Exploring Medieval India, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries: Culture, Gender, Regional Patterns, 2010; “Fantasizing the Mughals and Popular Perceptions of the Taj Mahal,” Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Archive of South Asian Popular Visual Culture, 2010; “Architecture of the Nawabs,” in India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow, 2010; “India: The Mughals, 1526-1858,” The Great Empires of Asia, 2010; “The Sufi Shrines of Shahul Hamid in India and Southeast Asia,” Artibus Asiae, LXIX,2 (2009); “Out of the Desert: Water Traditions in the South Asian Landscape,” Rivers of Paradise: Water in Islamic Art and Culture, 2007; “Multiple Memories: Lives of the Taj Mahal,” Crossing Cultures: Conflict / Migration / Convergence, 2008; “Pilgrimage to the Shrines in Ajmer,” in Islam in South Asia in Practice, 2009; “Excavating Communalism: Kachhwaha Rajadharma and Mughal Sovereignty,” in Rethinking a Millennium: Perspectives on Indian History from the Eight to Eighteenth Century, 2008; “Urban Growth and Decline: Housing the Moving Jina in Jaipur, Delhi and Lucknow,” Jinamanjari, 34/2 (October 2006); “Building a Legacy: Sher Shah’s Architecture and the Politics of Propaganda,” The Architecture of the Indian Sultanates, “From Rajadharma to Indian Nationalism: Iconographies of Pre- and Post-Independence Jaipur,” Picturing the Nation: Iconographies of Modern India, 2007; “A Ray from the Sun: Mughal Ideology and the Visual Construction of the Divine,” in The Presence of Light: Divine Radiance and Religious Experience, 2004.
Her students have written masters' papers and dissertations on a variety of topics ranging from the contemporary architecture of Morocco, Spain and Iran, Ottoman baths, Mughal painting, Ottoman Painting, Patronage under the Bijapuri Sultans, the photography of Shirin Neshat, the art and architecture of the Ranas of Udaipur to the impact of Gandhi’s thought on low cost housing in India just to give a few examples. Classes she teaches include Art of Islam, Age of Empire: Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals, Art of Islamic Iran, Diversity of Traditions: Indian Art, 1200 to the Present among others including graduate level seminars.
She has completed a terms as the College Art Association's Vice President for Publications as well as a ten-year term as the Chair of the Committee on Art and Archaeology of the American Institute of Indian Studies.