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 past and current graduate 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, and 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, and Diversity of Traditions: Indian Art, 1200 to the Present among others, including graduate level seminars.
She has completed a term 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.
- India before Europe, with Cynthia Talbot, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- The Architecture of Mughal India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Reprinted, 1995 in New Delhi by Foundation Books in cooperation with Cambridge University Press; revised and republished by Cambridge University Press, 2001.
- Perceptions of South Asia’s Visual Past, co-edited with Thomas Metcalf, Oxford and IBH and the American Institute of Indian Studies, 1994.
- “The Sufi Shrines of Shahul Hamid in India and Southeast Asia,” Artibus Asiae, LXIX,2 (2009), 247-58.
- “Multiple Memories: Lives of the Taj Mahal,” Crossing Cultures: Conflict / Migration / Convergence, ed. Jaynie Anderson. Melbourne: University of Melbourne Press, 2008, 614 – 620.
- “Pilgrimage to the Shrines in Ajmer,” in Islam in South Asia in Practice, edited by Barbara D. Metcalf, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009, 77-86.
- “Building a Legacy: Sher Shah’s Architecture and the Politics of Propaganda,” The Architecture of the Indian Sultanates, ed. Abha Narain Lambah and Alka Patel (Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2006), 56-67. It was also published in Marg: A Magazine of the Arts 58/1 (September 2006), 24-35.
- “From Rajadharma to Indian Nationalism: Iconographies of Pre- and Post-Independence Jaipur,” Picturing the Nation: Iconographies of Modern India, ed. Richard H. Davis (Mumbai: Orient Longman, 2007), 117-143.
- “Piety, Religion, and the Old Social Order in the Architecture of the Later Mughals and Their Contemporaries,” in Rethinking Early Modern India, ed. Richard B. Barnett. New Delhi: Manohar, 2002, 193-228.
- “The Architecture of Raja Man Singh: A Study of Sub-Imperial Patronage,” (article reprinted) in Architecture of Medieval India: Forms, Contexts, Histories, ed. Monica Juneja. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001, 370-397.
- “Amber and Jaipur: Temples in a Changing State,” in Stones in the Sand: The Architecture of Rajasthan, ed. Giles Tillotson. Mumbai: Marg Publications (2001), 68-77.
- “Delhi Walled: Changing Boundaries,” in City Walls: The Urban Enceinte in Global Perspective, ed. James Tracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, 247-281.
- “Mapping Hindu-Muslim Identities Through the Architecture of Shahjahanabad and Jaipur,” in Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia, eds. David Gilmartin and Bruce Lawrence. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2000, 121-148.
- “Kachhwaha Pride and Prestige: The Temple Patronage of Raja Man Singh,” in Govindadeva: A Dialogue in Stone, ed. Margaret Case. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1996, 215-238.
- “Sub-Imperial Palaces: Power and Authority in Mughal India,” in Ars Orientalis 23 (1993), 281-302.
- “The Architecture of Raja Man Singh: A Study of Sub-Imperial Patronage,” in The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture, ed. Barbara Stoler Miller. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992, 183-201.
- “Legacy and Legitimacy: Sher Shah’s Patronage of Imperial Mausolea,” in Shari’at Ambiguity in South Asian Islam, ed. Katherine P. Ewing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, 79-97.
- “Islamic Influence and the Architecture of Vijayanagara,” in Vijayanagara: City and Empire—New Currents of Research, 2 volumes, eds. A.L. Dallapiccola and S. Zingel-Ave Lallemant. Weisbaden: Steiner Verlag, 1985, I:188-195.
- “The Tomb of Ibrahim Sur: Epigraphs and Implications,” in Indian Epigraphy: Its Bearing on the History of Art. New Delhi: Oxford/IBH and Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1984, 275-281.
- “The Mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri,” in Artibus Asiae XXXIX (1977), 273-298.