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Katherine Schofield is a historian of music and listening in Mughal India and the paracolonial Indian Ocean. She trained as a viola player before embarking on her PhD at SOAS, University of London, and came to King’s after a research fellowship at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a lectureship at Leeds. Formerly known as Katherine Butler Brown.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Ethnomusicology; Global Music History
  • South Asia; the Indian Ocean
  • Islam
  • Empire and Colonialism
  • Mughal India

Working largely with Persian, Urdu, and visual sources for elite musical culture in North India and the Deccan c.1570–1860, Katherine’s general research interests lie in South Asian music; 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 ill-fated courtesans, legendary musicians, and captivated patrons she writes on sovereignty and selfhood, affection and desire, sympathy and loss, and power, worldly and strange. 

In 2011–16 Katherine was Principal Investigator of a €1.18M European Research Council project 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. She is the editor with Francesca Orsini of 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). In 2018 she is a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow, presenting six public lectures and conversations at the British Library that will become a monograph, Histories of the ephemeral: writing on music in late Mughal India, 1748–1858.

For details of her talks, please see here

Katherine welcomes applications for PhD topics related to any of her research interests, especially work on the musical traditions of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, the Indian Ocean, and/or their global diasporas.

For more details, please see her full research profile.


Katherine’s teaching interests lie in the history and ethnomusicology of South Asia, the Indian Ocean, Islam, and the Mughal and British empires; global music history; music and religion; and critical listening. At King’s she has supervised successful PhDs on a range of historical and ethnographic topics in the music of South Asia, Malaysia, and Singapore; and co-supervised PhDs on the music of the wider Islamicate world including Ottoman Turkey and contemporary Algeria.

Her recent postgraduate and undergraduate teaching has included such topics as music and empire, history in ethnomusicology, Bollywood, Indian music, music in Muslim cultures, music, gender and sexuality, music and globalisation, and general ethnomusicology.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Katherine is sought after as a speaker on the arts and culture of Mughal and early colonial India, and as a consultant on the material culture of Indian music c.1600–1900, especially Persian and Urdu manuscripts and musical paintings. 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 (Jaipur 2016; London 2017), the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Library. She is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and a consultant to the Asian Music Circuit.