Katherine Schofield, FRAS


  • Senior Lecturer in South Asian Music & History, Music
  • Phone86252
  • 152

Personal profile

Biographical details

Katherine Butler Schofield is a historian of music and listening in Mughal India and the paracolonial Indian Ocean, and Head of the Deparment of Music. She trained as a viola player at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music before embarking on her MMus and PhD in seventeenth-century Indian music history at SOAS, University of London. Katherine came to King’s in 2009 after a research fellowship at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a lectureship at Leeds. She is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Historical Society. She was formerly known as Katherine Butler Brown.

Working largely with Persian, Urdu, and visual sources for elite musical culture in North India and the Deccan c.1570–1860, Katherine’s research interests lie in South Asian music, visual art, and cinema; the history of Mughal India (1526–1858); Islam and Sufism; empire and the paracolonial; and the intersecting histories of the emotions, the senses, aesthetics, ethics, and the supernatural. Through stories about fabled courtesans, legendary musicians, and captivated patrons she writes on sovereignty and selfhood, affection and desire, sympathy and loss, and power, worldly and strange. 

In 2011–15/16 Katherine was Principal Investigator of a €1.18M European Research Council project (MUSTECIO, 263643) studying the ways in which music and dance were transformed c.1750–1900 in the transition to colonial rule in India and the Malay world. In 2018 she was a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (MD160059), presenting six public lectures and conversations at the British Library, which formed the basis of her 2023 Cambridge University Press monograph, Music and musicians in late Mughal India: histories of the ephemeral, 1748–1858. She is the editor with Francesca Orsini of pioneering open-access volume Tellings and texts: music, literature, and performance in North India (Open Book, 2015), and with Imke Rajamani and Margrit Pernau Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain (Niyogi, 2018). Katherine is a keen podcaster and her Histories of the Ephemeral series can be found on her Soundcloud.

Katherine is sought after as a speaker on the arts and culture of Mughal, Deccani, and early colonial South Asia, and as a consultant on the material culture of South Asian music c.1600–1900, especially Persian and Urdu manuscripts, musical paintings, and period instruments. As well as presenting guest lectures at academic institutions and conferences all over the world, she has been a speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival, the Lahore Literary Festival, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Library. She is a member of the International Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Musicological Society and Musicology Australia, and has been a consultant to the Asian Music Circuit and the Horniman Museum, London, among others.

Since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021, Katherine has become a prominent advocate for the rights of Afghanistan's musicians, music professors, and other creative and cultural workers, as co-founder and strategy lead of the International Campaign for Afghanistan's Musicians.

Katherine is the process of establishing the Musicians, Artists and Writers At Risk Network (MAWARN) at King's College London, to act as a hub for practice- and policy-oriented research on and by creative workers at risk. Her new research project is The Singer and the Song in South Asia (SASISA), including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Please contact her via email if you are interested in participating in either or both of these new projects.

Katherine is unavaible to take new PhD students until 2026/27, but she is happy to mentor people interested in PhD and postdoctoral research, especially from Black and Global Majority backgrounds, in the areas of global music history, Islam, empire and colonialism, Mughal India, and the contemporary musical cultures of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, the Indian Ocean, and/or their global diasporas.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


  • DS Asia
  • M Music


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