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Shakuntala Rao joined the department in 1992 after completing her Ph.D. at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Shakuntala’s research and teaching interests are the areas of global media, journalism ethics, postcolonial theory and popular culture. She has published extensively and influentially in media, communication, journalism and interdisciplinary journals such as Interventions: Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Women’s Studies International Forum, Journal of Communication, Global Media Journal, Communication Review, Howard Journal of Communication, Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media, American Journalism Review, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Rhodes Journalism Review, Media Asia, Asian Journal of Communication and Journal for the Society of Social Research.
Shakuntala’s past research has focused on the intersections between media studies and postcolonial theory. Her article, “Where is the Study of Empire? Connecting International Communication to Postcolonial Theory,” published in Journal of International Communication, dealt with issues of hybridity, identity and colonial history. Her articles and book chapters on media and postcolonial theory have appeared in the Journal of Media Ethics, Global Media and Communication, Visual Communication Quarterly and in the anthology, “Media Ethics Beyond Borders” (Routledge). Shakuntala has also conducted extensive ethnographic research on the globalization of the Indian film industry (Bollywood). Her recent scholarly work on Bollywood is a book chapter titled, “Shah Rukh Khan: A Bollywood Superstar and an Icon of the Postcolonial Nation” which appeared in the anthology, “Celebrity Colonialism: Fame, Representation, and Power in (Post)Colonial Cultures” and “Glocalization of Bollywood” in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. She has written articles and columns on Bollywood for magazines, websites and newspapers such as South Asia (Lahore, Pakistan), Alternatives Internationales (Paris, France), The Hoot: Watching Media in the Subcontinent (Delhi, India), and The Tribune (Chandigarh, India).
Her current research has two foci. As part of a research group comprised of Herman Wasserman (University of Cape Town, South Africa), Clifford Christians (U of Illinois-Urbana, USA), Lee Wilkins (Wayne State University, USA) and Stephen J.A. Ward, Shakuntala has been working on a project titled, “Towards Global Media Ethics: Exploring New Theoretical Perspectives.” The group has organized and hosted global media ethics roundtables for scholars and journalists at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa), Zayed University (Dubai, UAE), Indian Institute of Mass Communication (Delhi, India), Tsinghua University (Beijing, PRC) and Sri Lanka Press Institute (Colombo, Sri Lanka). Her work in global media ethics has been presented at Russian Communication Association conference (Moscow), International Association for Mass Communication Research conferences (Istanbul and Montreal), International Communication Association Conference (London and Tokyo), Africa Highway Conference (Cape Town and Grahamstown), Latin American Journalism Conference (Santiago) and MIT7: Media in Transition conference (Cambridge, Mass.). Her most recent articles on global media ethics have appeared in Journalism Practice and African Journalism Studies and book chapters in the anthologies, “The Handbook of Global Communication and Media Ethics” (Wiley-Blackwell) and “Global Media Ethics: Problems and Perspectives” (Wiley-Blackwell). Shakuntala is also the co-editor of two anthologies in this area, “Explorations in Global Media Ethics” (with Muhammad Ayish, 2010, Routledge) and “Media Ethics and Justice in the Age of Globalization” (with Herman Wasserman, 2015, Palgrave/McMillan).
Shakuntala is working on a larger empirical and theoretical project to study the intersections between media, ethics and global democracy in the Indian context and beyond. Using Amartya Sen’s work on justice, Shakuntala has been studying grassroots democracy and journalism practices. Her most recent article in this areas are: “Covering Rape in Shame Culture” published in the Journal of Media Ethics and “Awakening the dragon’s and elephant’s media: Comparative analysis of India and China’s journalism ethics” published in the journal, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. Part of the project is funded by a United States Federal Grant (with co-PI, Dr. Kanchan K. Malik, University of Hyderabad, India). Shakuntala is also the co-editor (with Vipul Mudgal) of an anthology in this area, “Democracy, Civil Society and Journalism in India” (2016, Routledge).
Shakuntala has received several grants and awards including the Ford Foundation Faculty Development Award (SUNY-Albany), Brookings Institute and School of Mass Communication at Tsinghua University short-term fellowship (Beijing), Senior Fulbright Scholarship (India), Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study (Stellenbosch, South Africa), and fellow at the Ethics Colloquia (School of Journalism, University of Missouri). She is the recipient of State University of New York chancellor’s award for excellence in scholarship for the 2012–13 academic year. She has been involved in training and in conducting workshops on ethics for print and television journalists in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Kazakhstan.
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