School of Arts, SOAS

World-leading centre for study and research into the art, culture, music and media of Asia, Africa & the Middle East & their diasporas.

The School of Arts at SOAS, University of London is a world-leading centre for study and research into visual and sound arts, material and intangible cultures, media industries and digital cultures of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and their diasporas. It brings together scholars and students from three units at SOAS: the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, the Department of Music

Operating as usual

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 01/11/2023

Congrats to Soas SoA alumni Dr Alexandra Green (Henry Ginsburg Curator for Southeast Asia, British Museum) and (MA History of Art) on the opening of the new “Burma to Myanmar” exhibition at the British Museum which runs until 11 February. Do check it out if you are in town!


Don’t miss ‘The People’s Session,’ tonight at Peckham Levels, a Sounds and Space event featuring Colombian artist María Mónica Gutiérrez, popularly known as Montanera or Mountainess!

Sounds and Space is a non-profit community initiative established by SOAS Students Sian Rees and Sophia Bourne, and dedicated to celebrating musicians from underrepresented backgrounds and communities.

Montanera's musical journey spans over a decade, during which she has released eight albums and performed at renowned venues such as the Smithsonian Museum and Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C., as well as music festivals worldwide. Her distinct voice has garnered critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone Magazine praising her as having "one of the greatest voices that have emerged from Colombia in the past years."

Link in bio for tickets.

Image: Mario Acevedo


We are very excited about ‘Japanese Aesthetics of Recycling,’ a new exhibition highlighting the beauty of Japanese recycling, showcasing objects made of cotton, h**p, bast fibres, washi (handmade paper) and pottery.  Opening next month at the Brunei Gallery.

Exhibiting over 100 objects from the Karun Thakar Collection - mostly dating from the Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代, Tokugawa jidai) - the exhibition includes exquisite examples of ‘Boro’ and ‘sakiori’ textiles, washi and kin-tsugi or gin-tsugi pottery. 

Image: Boro trousers, Japan. early 20th century. Karun Thakar Collection

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 20/06/2023

We are excited to invite our students, alumni friends and followers to this free event via

Is there anything that we may call 'truth' anymore? Does anyone actually mean what they say?

We are excited to invite you to 'Sacred Truths,' a contemporary art event that mobilises the art of Chinese calligraphy to explore current issues surrounding misinformation and trust.
Featuring artists Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane, 'Sacred Truths' will result in a large-scale, collaborative artwork; turning the audience into artists. Join us to see how calligraphic imagination finds its locus in contemporary art!
Wednesday, 19 July. 13:00 in BGLT.
The event is free and open to the public. Link in bio to register.

Images: SOAS students visiting Qu Leilei in his studio

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 19/06/2023

Is there anything that we may call 'truth' anymore? Does anyone actually mean what they say?

We are excited to invite you to 'Sacred Truths,' a contemporary art event that mobilises the art of Chinese calligraphy to explore current issues surrounding misinformation and trust.
Featuring artists Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane, 'Sacred Truths' will result in a large-scale, collaborative artwork; turning the audience into artists. Join us to see how calligraphic imagination finds its locus in contemporary art!
Wednesday, 19 July. 13:00 in BGLT.
The event is free and open to the public. Link in bio to register.
Images: SOAS students visiting Qu Leilei in his studio


There are still places left for our Classical Indian Singing short course led by renowned singer Mehboob Nadeem!

Musical expression through the voice forms the foundation to the art of Indian Classical Music. Join sitar player and vocalist, Mehboob Nadeem for a week of focused and inspiring vocal training. This course offers introduction to Classical Indian voice culture and singing styles, as well as the melodic concept of the raag, including composition and improvisation within a given raag.

5-9 June. Link in bio for further details!

Image: Mehboob Nadeem

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 17/05/2023

Field trips are an important part of the curriculum at the School of Arts and we loved taking students in the History of Art and Archaeology MA module Curating the Sacred: Buddhism and Hinduism on Display, to Oxford last week. Along with Dr Stephen Murphy and Dr Crispin Branfoot, students spent the day viewing, handling and discussing selected objects at the Eastern Art Study Centre in the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museums.


Register now for "Rethinking the 'Miniature': Mughal, Maratha, and British Painting in the 18th Century,” an Indian Art Circle lecture by Dr Holly Shaffer, assistant professor and author of “Grafted Arts:
Art Making and Taking in the Struggle for Western India, 1760-1910.”

Tomorrow eve, 17 May at 1800. Online only.

Email to register: [email protected]

Holly Shaffer is assistant professor of History of Art and Architecture at Brown University with a focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and South Asian arts and their intersections

Image: (Detail) “British Soldier in Indian Landscape, Britain and Maharashtra,” Late 18th or early 19th century. Ink and opaque watercolour on printed paper, courtesy: Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, Pune


Interested in learning more about the SOAS Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art ? Register now for our Virtual Open Day on 23rd May.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art is a programme renowned for its excellence. Follow us on a journey of object-based study through lectures and contributions from a wide range of leading scholars, curators, and art market professionals. We have a formal association with the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, which allows us to offer exceptional access to the collections and curatorial expertise of both institutions. The programme will appeal to all those with a serious interest in Asian art, regardless of your personal, professional or academic background. It is also a proven pathway to further postgraduate study in Asian art and careers in museums, the commercial art world and academia.

Link in Bio to register.

Image: Elaborate headdress, 1800–1900, China. © The Teresa Coleman Collection. 


How far did colonialism transform north Indian music? Between the Mughal empire and the British Raj, how did the political landscape bleed into aesthetics, music, dance, and poetry?

Come find out at the book launch of “The Scattered Court: Hindustani Music in Colonial Bengal” by the School of Arts’ very own Dr Richard David Williams, Senior Lecturer in Music and South Asian Studies.

May 23rd, 5-7-pm in KLT.

Professor Williams will be joined by a panel including Katherine Schofield (KCL), Francesca Orsini (SOAS) and Samia Khatun (SOAS).

Image: The last king of Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah (1822-1887) learns sitar in the ‘Ishqnāma, Lucknow, 1849-50. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015


“Video games have emerged as a powerful educational tool, one of the most significant ways in which the public engages with the past.”

Don’t miss the next fascinating Research Seminar in Islamic Art: ‘Video Games and the Work of Islamic Art,’ delivered online only by Dr. Glaire Andrerson, founding director of the Digital Lab for Islamic Visual Culture & Collections.

18 May at 1800.

Email [email protected] to register.

“Scholars recognise the educational value of games in making knowledge accessible and informing public perceptions of the past, yet games that present global histories and visual traditions are still relatively rare. In my seminar I will discuss ongoing research bringing together video games and Islamic art history in the “Digital Lab for Islamic Visual Culture & Collections”. As I hope to show, immersive game technologies are one of the most exciting tools available to researchers to visualise past objects and spaces. Moreover, they offer Islamic art historians a way to shape more inclusive and authentic perceptions of the past by making our research more accessible to audiences outside the academy.”

Image: Digital imaginative visualization of Munyas reception hall, Via DLIVCC

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 04/05/2023

“Excavations in the Bukhara Oasis, Uzbekistan,” delivered by Professor Sören Stark (NYU) will present new archaeological data and finds from three seasons of archaeological rescue excavations in the centre of the old city. The talk will throw new light on Bukhara during its "golden age" and vividly illustrate the city's character as a vibrant centre of the eastern Islamic world during the 10th through 12th centuries.

Join us Wednesday, 10th May 2023, at 1900 (KLT)

The city of Bukhara, one of the major urban centres of Mawarannahr,
reached a climax of its demographic and cultural development between the 10th and the 12th century, when it served as capital for the Samanid Dynasty and for several Qarakhanid rulers. However, compared to other major centres of the wider region - such as Merv or Samarqand -
the archaeological investigation of Bukhara lags considerably behind. Find out more at the next Hadassah and Daniel Khalili Memorial Lecture in Islamic Art and Culture.

Image 1: The old city of Bukhara. Courtesy of the Department of Tourism Development of the Bukhara Region

Image 2: From the Uzbek-American Expedition in Bukhara

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 02/05/2023

You don’t want to miss ‘Document Your Ting: Emma Warren B2B Elijah” a special event dedicated to the art of cultural documentation with author Emma Warren and SOAS Community Fellow DJ Elijah!

Author/broadcaster Emma Warren and DJ/lecturer Elijah have been documenting the ephemeral and often hidden cultures of UK Black music for decades, and encouraging and mentoring others to do the same.

Now for the first time we bring them together to discuss their practice, the importance of documenting music cultures and why often overlooked activities like dance can be thought of as culturally significant. Marking the publication of Emma's latest book on UK dance music cultures, Dance Your Way Home (Faber), and Elijah's return from a 3-month world tour where he continued his ground-breaking Yellow Squares project, you won't want to miss this unique evening with two of the UK's most inspiring cultural thinkers.

5 May at 1800. Link in bio to register!


Come see Morgan Szymanski () perform an evening of Mexican guitar tonight as part of the La Linea Festival!

"The whole of this programme is very much influenced by folk music from Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Yes, some of the works are written or arranged by ´classical´ composers, but I have chosen the pieces because they clearly show a perfect marriage/crossover of styles between academic and folk idioms."
- Morgan Szymanski

Tonight, 27 April at 730pm in BGLT.

Link in bio for tickets.

Image: Courtesy of Morgan Szymanski


Tickets are still available for this evening’s performance by Alvarado + Marco Ruviaro, who will be performing The Music of Pixinguinha!

Tonight at 630pm in BGLT.

Link in bio for tickets!

Award-winning Brazilian quintet Alvorada will be joined by Brazilian mandolin virtuoso Marco Ruviaro for a unique show at SOAS as part of La Linea festival. They will be performing the music of Pixinguinha (1897-1973), one of the most important composers of choro, a lively and uplifting style of instrumental music from Rio de Janeiro. Choro emerged in the late 1800s when European salon dances (polkas, waltzes, mazurkas) reached Brazil and were infused with Afro-Brazilian rhythms. 

Image: Alvorado Music


We are so excited to invite you to a two-night Screen Worlds event featuring BAFTA and Academy Award winning artist Tim Yip (). Ranging from photography, film, and stage to drawing, calligraphy, and sculpture, Tim Yip presents a visual sensibility so ‘Chinese’, strong, and distinctive that his name now immediately conjures up a whole way of seeing.

Don’t miss ‘Spiritual DNA: The Art of Tim Yip,’ featuring screenings of Kitchen (2015) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), as well as an artist talk and a panel discussion.

3rd & 4th May 2023. Link in bio to register.

Image: Still from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Directed by Ang Lee. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Film

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 29/03/2023

Celebrating Women Working in Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage: Challenges & Opportunities

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Ohnmar Myo Senior Researcher at SEAMEO SPAFA will be speaking with three remarkable women - including SOAS, School Of Arts lecturer, Dr Heidi Tan - who have devoted their careers to Southeast Asian cultural heritage.

· Dr. Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool: A Woman Anthropologist in Two Field Sites
· Dr. Charlotte Galloway: A Misfit Art Historian
· Dr. Heidi Tan: In Search of the Inclusive Museum

Join us on 30 March from 3 to 5 p.m. (Bangkok time)
Facebook Live 

Zoom link in bio.

Image 1: Dr Heidi Tan

Image 2: Dr. Charlotte Galloway

Image 3: Dr. Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool


SOAS has been named one of the world’s top universities with 11 of its subjects featuring in the top 100 globally, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023!

The rankings compare the performance of around 15,000 individual university programmes at 1,500 universities and name the world’s best universities for the study of 54 academic disciplines. 

Check out all of SOAS’ top rankings at including Development Studies, Anthropology, Politics and International Studies and Arts & Humanties.

And come explore all the School of Arts has to offer through the link in our bio!

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 27/03/2023

We’re so pleased to invite you to an evening of Indonesian music and screening of a new film ‘Calonarang Transformed,’ a retelling of a Balinese tale of transformation and magic.

The film is part of a collaborative project by choreographer and dancer Ni Madé Pujawati, composer Nick Gray, anthropologist Mark Hobart, and Lila Bhawa Indonesian dance troupe, exploring fluidity and transformation in Balinese music and thought. The concert features SOAS-based group Segara Madu playing gendér wayang, a quartet of bronze metallophones used in Bali to accompany the shadow play (wayang kulit).

29 March at 6pm. In BGLT.

Link in bio for tickets!


Family! Money! Scheming!

Come catch a screening of ‘The Bold, The Corrupt And The Beautiful’ a film from acclaimed Taiwanese Director Yang Ya-Che.

Tomorrow night at 18:00 in KLT!

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 21/03/2023

The Curating Cultures MA Exhibition opens tomorrow in the Wolfson Gallery and Lady David cases!

The artworks and objects, which have been curated by Curating Cultures MA students, come from the SOAS Teaching and Handling Collection.

The Curating Cultures Module is a core module on the MA programme that offers a practice-based approach to developing curatorial skills including the interpretation and display of objects and collections care, informed by theoretical concerns and contemporary issues. This display is the culmination of the module for the graduating cohort. 

From 22 March in the Wolfson Gallery & Lady David Cases

Image 1: Student installing an African Mask in the Wolfson Gallery
Image 2: Student checking environment control of display
Image 3: Students working together on exhibition install in Wolfson Gallery
Image 4: Students & staff working together on exhibition install in the Wolfson Gallery
Image 5: Students working together on exhibition install in the Lady David cases


Book launch alert!

Join us for the launch of an exciting and innovative new book, “Black British Music in the 21st Century.” Covering a range of new genres, from Afro Swing to drill, as well as historic genres which have found new life in 21st century Britain, like gospel, reggae and jazz, this book features a new generation of brilliant writers, researchers and theorists using innovative interdisciplinary approaches to understand Black music cultures in 21st century Britain.

The launch, hosted by editor Dr Monique Charles and contributor Dr Caspar Melville, will explore the genesis of the project and why it matters and delve into some of the key arguments and issues raised in the book, alongside contributors Nathaniel Télémaque, Silhouette Bushay, Michael Ugwu and Dr Poonam Madar.

22 March, 18:00. G52

Link in bio to register.

And have a listen to a collaborative Spotify playlist compiled by the contributors - also in bio!

Image: Little Simz performing in Berlin, December 2022. Photograph: Frank Hoensch/Redferns


Alice B***r (1889-1981), the accomplished Swiss painter and sculptor spent 40 years of her life in the city of Varanasi, where she first encountered Uday Shankar. From here, she would go on to become co-director of the Uday Shankar Dance Troupe, and play an instrumental role in bringing Shankar’s work to Western audiences.

Join us on 22 March for the next Indian Art Circle lecture series, ‘Patron of the Shankar’s: Alice B***r and the Uday Shankar Indian Dance Troup in the 1930s,; delivered by Oliver Craske, author of ‘Indian Sun: The Life & Music of Ravi Shankar.’

22nd March, 1900 Paul Webley Wing, Senate House.

Image: Uday Shankar, Ravi Shankar and Alice B***r. Credit: Museum Rietberg


The calls for the repatriation and restitution of art and artefacts are growing stronger and the debates are becoming both more heated and complex. Challenging questions around the morality of keeping looted items that have significant cultural value to the nations from which they belong versus the role established global museums serve as places to showcase global art and artefacts are being raised. 

Don’t miss the next Director’s Lecture Series, where the art historian and curator Dr Naman P. Ahuja, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Dr Stephen A Murphy, Pratapaditya Pal Senior Lecturer in Curating and Museology of Asian Art at SOAS University of London, join SOAS Director Professor Adam Habib to debate the issues around the repatriation of art and artefacts. 

Monday, 20th March 530pm. Online only. Link in bio to register.

Image: A group of sculptures from the archaeological site of Koh Ker, Cambodia on display at the National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. They have been repatriated from a number of US museums and institutions over the past decade. Courtesy of Stephen Murphy.

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 13/03/2023

In a class session of the module 'Arts of Modern and Contemporary China (since 1800)', taught by Dr. Panpan Yang, students are learning to write their own names in contemporary Chinese using artist Xu Bing's New English Calligraphy.

In this language system, Xu Bing () assigns each of the 26 English letters a Chinese-like character element and creates a set of rules, according to which an English word can be reassembled into a square shape. It is English with a Chinese mask.

Photo credit goes to Jiaqi Zhang.


By the start of the seventeenth century, cloth from South Asia had spread throughout the globe. Carried in watertight chests on maritime vessels, painted cotton bedcovers and embroidered hangings travelled to the Americas, Europe, Africa, and East and West Asia.

We invite you to another fascinating Research Seminar in Islamic Art, “Cloth and Time in the Mughal Empire,” on the global circulation of Mughal textiles, delivered by Sylvia W. Houghteling, Assistant Professor of History of Art at Bryn Mawr, and author of The Art of Cloth in Mughal India (Princeton University Press, 2022).

16 March 1800 online only.

Register: [email protected]

Image: Section of Chintz (pintado). Dyed textile depicting hunting. Men, animals, birds and flowers. Unknown. Circa 1630. India, Deccan. Cotton. H45.5cm x W205cm. British Museum 1964,0208,0.1


Don’t miss Sahana and Samantak in Concert!

After a sold-out tour in November 2022, famed duo Sahana Bajpaie and Samantak Sinha return to the UK to present an evening of much loved Bengali songs!

10th March 1900. DLT

Link in bio for tickets.

Image: Sahana Bajpaie and Samantak Sinha perform together at Milieu, the Presidency University fest

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 06/03/2023

On Monday 13 February 2023 the head of the School of Arts, Dr Charlotte Horlyck, and the Lecturer in the Arts of Japan, Dr Monika Hinkel, were invited to a private view and reception at the Queen’s Gallery in conjunction with the special exhibition Japan Courts and Culture. The two academics were joined by the SOAS student Ms Devika Swarup for this special event.

Photos from School of Arts, SOAS's post 03/03/2023

Book your tickets now for the Benefit Concert for the Earthquake relief work in Syria and Turkey! An evening of incredible music featuring The Ozan Baysal, Olcay Bayir & Huw Bennett trio, and Oxford Maqam.

Sunday 12th March, 4-6pm. BGLT.

Link in bio to register.

Image 1: Olcay Bayir 
Image 2: Ozan Baysal

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Our Story

The School of Arts at SOAS University of London is a world-leading centre for study and research into visual and sound arts, material and intangible cultures, media industries and digital cultures of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and their diasporas. It brings together scholars and students from the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, the Department of Music, the Centre for English Studies, and the Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies. It is a unique concentration of experts, with some thirty full-time academic staff members, unsurpassed in scale and reach by any other institution worldwide.

Follow us on Twitter @SOASArts

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It’s nearly Friday and our wonderful Professor of Music @lucycduran posted this beautiful video 🎶 for Africa Day yesterd...



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