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Communication Studies Faculty — Dr. Shakuntala Rao

Professor & Communication Studies Chairperson

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 & influentially in media, communication, journalism, & interdisciplinary journals such as Interventions: Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Women’s Studies International Forum, Journal of Communication, Global Media Journal, Communication Review, Journalism: Theory, Practice, Method, 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 the Journal of International Communication, dealt with issues of hybridity, identity, and colonial history. Her articles & book chapters on media & postcolonial theory have appeared in the journals 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, popularly referred to as Bollywood. Her most recent scholarly work on Bollywood was 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 "I need an Indian Touch: Glocalization and Bollywood films" in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. She has given talks on Bollywood at Department of Cinema Studies, Universidad Central de Venezuela (Caracas, Venezuela), Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication (New Delhi), and at the College of Culture & Communication, Zhejiang Wanli University (Ningbo, China). She has written articles & columns on Bollywood for magazines, websites & newspapers such as South Asia (Lahore, Pakistan), Alternatives Internationales (Paris, France), The Hoot: Watching Media in the Subcontinent (Delhi, India), & 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), and Lee Wilkins (Wayne State University) and Stephen J.A. Ward, Shakuntala has been working on a project titled, “Towards Global Media Ethics: Exploring New Theoretical Perspectives.” The group has also organized & hosted global media ethics roundtables for scholars & journalists at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa), Zayed University (Dubai), Indian Institute of Mass Communication (New Delhi), Tsinghua University (Beijing) & Sri Lanka Press Institute (Colombo). Her work in global media ethics have been presented at Russian Communication Association conference (Moscow), International Association for Mass Communication Research conference (Istanbul and Montreal), Africa Highway Conference (South Africa), Latin American Journalism Conference (Santiago), & MIT7: Media in Transition conference (Cambridge, Mass.). Her most recent articles on global media ethics have appeared in the journals Journalism Practice, Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, & book chapters in the anthologies, The Handbook of Global Communication & Media Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell) & Global Media Ethics: Problems & Perspectives (Wiley-Blackwell). Shakuntala is also the co-editor (with Muhammad Ayish, American University, Sharjah University, UAE) of an anthology titled, Explorations in Global Media Ethics & of a second anthology, Media Ethics and Justice in the Age of Globalization (co-edited with Herman Wasserman).

Shakuntala’s second area of research is studying South Asian and China's journalism ethics and practices. Most recently she was the guest editor for a special issue on "Democracy, Civil Society and Indian Journalism" for Journalism Studies. The special issue contains a lengthy introduction on the topic of journalism, democracy and civil society in India (co-authored with Vipul Mudgal) and a research article titled, "A Media Not for All: A comparative analysis of journalism, democracy and exclusion in India and South Africa" (co-authored with Herman Wasserman). Shakuntala is currently working on a larger empirical and theoretical project to study the intersections between media and global democracy in the Indian context and beyond. 

Shakuntala has received several grants and awards including the Ford Foundation Faculty Development Award, Brookings Institution and School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University short-term fellowship (Beijing), Senior Fulbright Scholarship (India), Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study (South Africa), Fellow at the Ethics Colloquia at the University of Missouri, and the Nuala Drescher Award. 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 & in conducting workshops on ethics for print & television journalists in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, & Kazakhstan.


  • Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1993).
  • M.A., Pennsylvania State University.
  • B.A., University of Delhi.

Teaching & Research Areas

  • International communication.
  • Media ethics.
  • Popular culture.
  • Postcolonial and feminist theory.

Contact Shakuntala Rao

Office: Yokum 108
Phone: (518) 564-4291