Shakuntala lectures on International Media and the Global South, Film theory and World Cinema, and Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Development in the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE. She is the Programme Director for the Master’s in Media, Communication and Development. Shakuntala has a BA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Warwick; a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from Goldsmiths College, University of London, an MA English Studies in Education and a PhD Media and Communication from the Institute of Education, University of London, where she worked as a lecturer and researcher from 2004-2010. Before entering academia, she was a teacher of English and Media Studies in London schools through the 1990s.
Shakuntala has published extensively on young people, children, gender, ethnicity and Hindi cinema as well as on creativity and civic participation, with articles forthcoming on Hindi horror films and excluded youth and news consumption. Her current research addresses the intersection between religion, politics, media and learning with a particular focus on children and young people. Longer term research interests include the socio-political contexts of audiences, the meaning, history and textual study of cinema, particularly South Asian media and Hindi films (aka Bollywood), representations of children, child labour and child rights, with a specific focus on South Asia, critical approaches to pedagogy, communication and development, politically innovative development projects, news reception, tensions between popular and elite media, internet cultures, online civic participation, young people and cultural identities. Her research focuses on young people's interactions with media genres and technologies both old and new and the interactions between philosophy, politics, culture, representation and group identities in diverse contexts.
Her work on youth civic participation via the internet and the producers of civic organisations online is available in a series of reports on the website www.civicweb.eu; and in an accessible podcast of a webbinar on the site of the International Journal of Learning and Media - http://ijlm.net/webinarforum/21-civic-participation-dml-europe . These issues are fexplored in a book co-authored with David Buckingham and available from MIT press in November 2013.
Shakuntala is currently researching the politics, ideologies and pedagogies of different forms of citizenship offered to children and young people by educational organizations, by the state and by the media. In particular, her work examines the role and representations of children and young people in South Asian media and the ways in which autonomy and agency are construed based on class, religion and ethnicity. Here her main focus is on the ways in which child labour is understood, represented and justified or reviled by different social groups in South Asia and the West and the ways in which new technologies are conceived as a danger to or a saviour of ideal childhood.
Shakuntala has just completed The Civic Web, a book arising from her research with young people and online civic producers across Europe, examining technological tools for participation and links between online and offline civic participation, motivation, interactivity, context as well as National institutional responses to young people's engagement. This research was developed alongside other colleagues at LSE on a 14-month European project for EACEA entitled "Youth Participation in Democratic Life". The findings of this project are available now in our detailed report.
She has conducted an interview-based study of the reception of the film Slumdog Millionaire, examining how 'insider' and 'outsider' perspectives shape political evaluations of the film, as well as an interview-based study on Hindi horror films which will soon be published in the journal Communication, Culture and Critique; she continues to interview children about their lives and media environments in rural and urban India (mainly Maharashtra) with a view to understanding how different conceptions of development, education and labour and different modes of communication intersect in varying narratives about children and the global south.
Another recent piece of research appears in the journal Revista Comunicar examining You Tube responses to public racism in the commuter video 'My Tram Incident'. The article decentres discussions of the internet as an alternative public sphere and examines the less discussed pedagogic and therapeutic potentials of vlogging about controversial social issues.
In 2011 Shakuntala won an LSE and LSESU Teaching Excellence Award for which she was also nominated in 2012 and 2013, and in 2013 she was awarded of one of the prestigious LSE Major Review Teaching Prizes. In the Michaelmas term, she convenes and teaches MC426, Film Theory and World Cinema; MC421, Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Development; and contributes to MC411; In the Lent term, she convenes teaches MC407 International Media and the Global South; lectures on MC418, Theories of Media and Communication as well as Methods Workshops MC4M1 in Visual Analysis. Between 2010-2013 Shakuntala was convenor of the dissertation course in Media and Communications, MC499. She supervises research students at MSc and PhD level on topics ranging from film, audiences, South Asia, politics and development to young people, the internet and civic participation. She convenes and jointly teaches a popular summer school short course, IR140 Global Communications, Citizens and Cultural Politics. Shakuntala will be on research sabbatical in Summer 2014.
Shakuntala is lead editor for an exciting Anthem Press book series, Global Media and Communication. She is a consultant for Media Development NGO Internews 5-year project in India, Kenya and Brazil with regard to media representations and popular understandings of child rights in India. She guest lectures and gives key notes at a variety of venues across Europe. Previously she has been Lead Researcher on the project 'Creativity and Innovation in European Schools' which she won jointly with Futurelab Bristol, for the European Union's Institute of Prospective Technological Studies; she was UK Research Officer on the seven-country European Union funded project Civicweb: Young People, Civic Participation and the Internet (2006-2009) for which the Institute of Education is was lead partner; and she worked on a review of literature outlining Rhetorics of Creativity (2005-2006) for Creative Partnerships. She is also a member of the International Centre for Education for Democratic Citizenship, a joint Birkbeck and Institute of Education venture. She supervises an external PhD student working on Applied Drama and Diasporic Identity at the Central School of Speech and Drama.