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Dr. Shakuntala Rao

Professor of Communication Studies

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, Journalism, Howard Journal of Communication, Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media, American Journalism Review, Rhodes Journalism Review, African Journalism Studies, 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 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 edited anthology, Media Ethics Beyond Borders (Routledge). Shakuntala has also conducted extensive ethnographic research on the globalization of the Indian film industry (Bollywood). Among her articles on Bollywood is “I need an Indian Touch: Glocalization and Bollywood films” published in the National Communication Association (NCA) journal, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. At present, this article is one of the most read articles in the journal’s history.

Shakuntala’s current research is heavily focused on global media, democracy, justice and ethics. She has organized and/or participated in global media ethics roundtables for scholars, students and journalists at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa), Zayed University (Dubai, UAE), Indian Institute of Mass Communication (New 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 Media and Communication Research conferences (Montreal), International Communication Association Conference (London and Tokyo), Africa Highway Conference (Cape Town, South Africa), Latin American Journalism Conference (Santiago, Chile) and MIT7: Media in Transition conference (Cambridge, Mass.). Her most recent research articles on global media ethics have appeared in Journal of Media Ethics, Journalism Studies and multiple book chapters. Shakuntala is also the co-editor of two books in this area: Explorations in Global Media Ethics (co-editor, 2011, Routledge) and Media Ethics and Justice in the Age of Globalization (co-editor, 2016, Palgrave/McMillan).

More recently, Shakuntala has been studying grassroots democracy, Indian journalism practices and evolving and shifting digital spaces. Part of the research project was funded by a United States Federal Grant (with co-PI, Dr. Kanchan Malik, University of Hyderabad, India). Preliminary data was published in the journal, Journalism Practice, followed by a published report titled, “Blurred Lines: A Media Ethics Course for Indian Journalists and Academics” which is now being used by universities across India as part of their journalism curriculum and training. Shakuntala is also the editor of two books in this area: Democracy, Civil Society and Journalism in India (2016, Routledge) and Indian Journalism in a new Era (2019, Oxford University Press). Her most recent research article in this area is titled, “Making of Selfie Nationalism: Narendra Modi, the paradigm shift to social media governance and the crisis of democracy” published in the Journal of Communication Inquiry.

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, PRC), 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.

Shakuntala has been a keynote and invited speaker at various conferences around the world and most recently at the “Global Disapora Conference” at Erasmus University (The Hague, Netherlands), “International Conference on Self Regulation and Ethical News Reporting” at the Sri Lanka Press Institute (Colombo, Sri Lanka), “Digital Media, Political Polarization & Challenges to Democracy” at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna, Austria), and at the inaugural conference of the “Media Ethics Think Tank Qatar” (Doha, Qatar). She has held visiting research professorships at Central University of Venezuela (Caracas, Venezuela), Tsinghua University (Beijing, PRC), and Stockholm University (Stockholm, Sweden). Her books and research article are required reading for graduate and undergraduate courses in varied disciplines and departments such as films studies, sociology, communication, gender studies, media studies, and journalism at universities such as McGill, Princeton, Columbia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, University of Illinois-Urbana, University of Texas-Austin, Northwestern, London School of Economics and others.

Shakuntala lives in Burlington, Vermont, with her husband and son and enjoys traveling and Zumba.

  • Education
    • Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1993)
    • M.A., Pennsylvania State University (1989)
    • Diploma (Journalism), Center for Mass Media, India (1987)
    • B.A., Miranda House, University of Delhi, India (1986)
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