Dr Richard Williams

Research interests:

  • Cultural History of late Mughal India (musicology, poetry, aesthetics)
  • North Indian knowledge systems under colonialism
  • Eighteenth-century Hindu theology
Robert Williams

I am currently writing two books. The first is a social and intellectual history of Hindustani classical music under colonialism, focussing on the court-in-exile of the last Nawab of Awadh, Wajid ‘Ali Shah (1822-1887), and the musicians who went with him from Lucknow to Calcutta. The book uses the court as a starting point to consider Bengali regionalism, the hidden histories of aristocratic women, Urdu poetry networks, courtesans, and the history of musicological publishing.

My second project is interested in court cultures in eighteenth-century north India, eastern Bengal, and Nepal. The project examines attitudes to aesthetics, and the relationship of the arts and sciences to pre-colonial concepts of politics and connoisseurship. A major consideration of the project is how multilingual intellectual networks circulated in the eighteenth century. I originally trained in Theology, and religious history continues to be a major thread in my research. I am currently working through a corpus of devotional literature written in Brajbhasha (Classical Hindi) by the poet intellectuals of the Radhavallabh Sampraday.

My broader interests include histories of gender and the body, Shi’ah Islam, and the history of emotions.

  • Music, lyrics, and the Bengali book: Hindustani musicology in Calcutta, 1818-1905

  • Krishna's Neglected Responsibilties: Religious devotion and social critique in eighteenth-century North India

  • More
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