Ongoing Projects

Progressive and Revolutionary Song in Nepal

Folk Performance, Cultural Memory, and the Spiritual and Material Environment

Glimpses of Nepali Folk Music: The Works of Subi Shah

This translation project brings together some of Nepali musicologist, dancer, and multi-instrumentalist Subi Shah’s best known writings, all centered on the genres performed in the pangdure or maruni tradition of folk dance performance. These include multiple forms of khyali, jhyaure, chudka, and other folk songs and dances, along with the epic dance-dramas of Sorathi and Krishna Charitra, in the books Madal and Glimpses of Nepali Folk Music, published by Sajha Prakashan. In addition, Shah’s unpublished works Introduction to Nepali Tunes; Nepali Dance Dramas; and Sorathi will be included.



Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal. Oxford University Press, 2017.

View media pages for Singing Across Divides

An ethnographic study of music, performance, migration, and circulation, Singing Across Divides examines how forms of love and intimacy are linked to changing conceptions of political solidarity and forms of belonging, through the lens of Nepali dohori song. The book describes dohori: improvised, dialogic singing, in which a witty repartee of exchanges is based on poetic couplets with a fixed rhyme scheme, often backed by instrumental music and accompanying dance, performed between men and women, with a primary focus on romantic love. The book tells the story of dohori’s relationship with changing ideas of Nepal as a nation-state, and how different nationalist concepts of unity have incorporated marginality, in the intersectional arenas of caste, indigeneity, class, gender, and regional identity. Dohori gets at the heart of tensions around ethnic, caste, and gender difference, as it promotes potentially destabilizing musical and poetic interactions, love, sex, and marriage across these social divides.

In the aftermath of Nepal’s ten-year civil war, changing political realities, increased migration, and circulation of people, media and practices are redefining concepts of appropriate intimate relationships and their associated systems of exchange. Through multi-sited ethnography of performances, media production, circulation, reception, and the daily lives of performers and fans in Nepal and the UK, Singing Across Divides examines how people use dohori to challenge (and uphold) social categories, while also creating affective solidarities.

Journal Articles

Making a Living as a Musician in Nepal: Multiple Regimes of Value in a Changing Popular Folk Music Industry.” Himalaya 38(1), 2018, pp. 160-176.

Ruralising the City: Migration and Viraha in Translocal Nepal.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society special issue on Urban Emotions: Responses to the City c. 1850-1960. Eds. Elizabeth Chatterjee, Sneha Krishnan, and Meghan Robb. 27(4), 2017.

Music and Cultural Policy in Nepal: Views from Lok Dohori.” European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 48, 2016, pp. 43-76.

Sounding and Writing a Nepali Public Sphere: The Music and Language of Jhyaure.” Asian Music 46(1), 2015, pp. 3-38.

Changing the Sound of Nationalism in Nepal: Deuda and the Far West.” South Asian Popular Culture 10(3), 2012, pp. 1-11.

Singing Dialogic Space Into Being: Communist Language and Democratic Hopes at a Dohori Competition on Radio Nepal.Studies in Nepali History and Society 15(2), 2010, pp. 297-330.

“May I Elope”: Song Words, Social Status, and Honor among Female Nepali Dohori Singers. Ethnomusicology 54(2), 2010, pp. 257-280.

Dohori in the New Nepal.” World Literature Today 82(1), 2008, pp. 30-37.

Book Chapters

“Music Analog, Digital, and Embodied: Circulation in Rural Nepal.” In Jayson Beaster-Jones and Kariann Goldschmitt, eds. Oxford Handbook of Global Music Industries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (under review).

“Love, Politics, and Life Between Village and City in Nepali Lok Dohori.” In Zoe Sherinian and Sarah Morelli, eds. Music, Dance, and Everyday Life in South Asia. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (under review).

Mediating the Migrant Experience: Dukha, Viraha, and Nostalgia in Nepali Lok Dohori Songs.” In Deepak Thapa, ed. Proceedings of the Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya (2015). Kathmandu: Himal Books, 2019.

Popular Music among Nepalis in Bahrain: Nightclubs, Media, Performance, and Publics.” In David Gellner and Sondra Hausner, eds. Global Nepalis: Religion, Culture, and Community in a New and Old Diaspora. New Delhi, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 188-209.

Tears for the Revolution: Nepali Musical Nationalism, Emotion, and the Maoist Movement.” In Marie LeComte-Tilouine, ed. Revolution in Nepal. Oxford and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 367-392.

Class Love and the Unfinished Transformation of Social Hierarchy in Nepali Communist Songs”. In Robert Adlington, ed. Red Strains: Music and Communism Outside the Communist Bloc. (Proceedings of the British Academy). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 283-298.

Blue Lake: Tibetan Popular Music, Place, and Fantasies of the Nation.” In Robert Barnett and Ronald Schwartz, eds. Tibetan Modernities: Notes from the Field on Cultural and Social Change (Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of IATS). Leiden: Brill, 2008.

Dohori on Music Videos and the Politics of Memory.” In Social Sciences in a Multicultural World: Proceedings of the International Conference, 11-13 December 2006. Kathmandu: Sociological/Anthropological Society of Nepal (SASON) & Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR), 2007.


Feature Article. Nachna Jaana Paam. The Record. August 30, 2019.

Op-ed. In Nepal, lift spirits through music. CNN. May 1, 2015.

Feature Article. Linguistic Diversity in Nepal’s Music Industry. Fair Observer. March 2, 2014.

Reviews, Reports, and Multimedia Publications

Encyclopedia article. “Caste”. In Sage International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture, pp. 473-475.

Book Review. Coralynn Davis, Maithil Women’s Tales: Storytelling on the Nepal-India Border. Himalaya 38(1), 2018, pp. 209-212.

Book Review. Richard Widdess, Dapha: Sacred Singing in a South Asian City. Music, Performance, and Meaning in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013. Ethnomusicology Forum 25(1), 2016, pp. 136-138. 

Book Review. Dhana Hughes, Violence, Torture, and Memory in Sri Lanka: Life After Terror. London: Routledge. Journal of Contemporary Asia. 2014, pp. 565-567.

Book Review. Brian Diettrich, Jane Freeman Moulin, and Michael Webb, Music in Pacific Island Cultures. (Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Music and Letters 94(3), 2013, pp. 563-565.

Book Review. Raymond Ammann, Sounds of Secrets: Field Notes on Ritual Music and Musical Instruments on the Islands of Vanuatu. KlangKulturStudien 7. Zurich and Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2012. Music and Letters 94:1, 2013, pp. 198-200.

Album Review. Alejandro Sanchez-Samper, producer. Nepali Ho! Released on Bandcamp, November 2011. Ethnomusicology 57:1, 2013, pp. 155-158.

Research Report. “Migration, Gender and Nation in Nepali Dohori Performance.” Himalaya 25(1-2), 2008, pp. 43-44.

Unpublished Report. Kathmandu Dohori Restaurant Performers: A Demographic Survey of the Field in 2007. 

Online feature. “Damai Music.” Spiny Babbler Online Museum, 2005. [inactive]


Convergence Culture in Rural Nepal (Oxford Music, Digitization, Mediation Conference 2013)

Dialogic Songs for Intercultural Dialog? Towards post-multiculturalism in post-conflict Nepal (Oxford Humanities Research Showcase 2011)


PhD Dissertation, 2009: Exchanges of Song: Migration, Gender and Nation in Nepali Dohori Performance (Columbia University)

MA Thesis, 2005: Conflict and Confluence: Constructing and Challenging Boundaries at the Ahiri Institute for Indian Classical Music and Dance (Columbia University)