Dr. Shakuntala Banaji is the Programme Director for the Master’s in Media, Communication and Development. She lectures about 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 has published extensively on young people, children and media as well as gender, ethnicity and Hindi cinema, with articles on Hindi horror films and excluded youth and news consumption and children, social class and media in India recently published; and chapters on orientalism and racism in Media, and child stars in Hindi cinema forthcoming. She has also published on creativity, democracy, the internet and civic participation.
Her current research addresses the intersection between socio-political contexts, media, identities and participation. Her focus is on the lives of children and young people in different geographical and class contexts, with a critical take on the ways in which rhetorical conceptions of citizenship, development, engagement and digital media construct and position child and youth subjectivities. These themes are being pursued through two new projects. The European Commission Horizon 2020 Young 5a funded project, CATCHEyoU - Constructing Active Citizenship with European youth: policies, practices, challenges and solutions, which investigates media constructions, participatory practices and policy visions of youth active citizenship. And, Personalised Media and Participatory Culture (2015-2017) in collaboration with American University Sharjah, funded by the LSE Middle East centre's Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme.
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 and an advisory teacher at the English and Media Centre. 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 was lead partner; and she produced a review of literature outlining Rhetorics of Creativity (2005-2006) for Creative Partnerships.
Shakuntala is lead editor for an exciting Anthem Press book series, Global Media and Communication. She was an expert for Media Development NGO Internews project in India, Kenya and Brazil with regard to media representations and popular understandings of child rights in India. She has guest lectured across the UK, in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and India, and given keynotes at a variety of venues across Europe and India including plenary keynotes at IAMCR2016 and at upcoming MeccSa 2017.
Shakuntala has served as an external examiner on the BA Education and Social Science, St. Mary's University (2012-2015); She was a member of the International Centre for Education for Democratic Citizenship, (Birkbeck and Institute of Education). She has acted as internal and external examiner on doctoral work about journalism, nationalism, representation, youth, gender, work, and media.
Dr. Shakuntala Banaji is currently UK project director for The European Commission Horizon 2020 Young 5a funded project, CATCHEyoU - Constructing Active Citizenship with European youth: policies, practices, challenges and solutions, which investigates media constructions, participatory practices and policy visions of youth active citizenship. She is also Principal Investigator on Personalised Media and Participatory Culture (2015-2017) in collaboration with American University Sharjah, funded by the LSE Middle East centre's academic collaboration with Arab Universities Programme. Both projects shed light on the tensions and connections between rhetorics of citizenship or digital connectivity, and the actual barriers, networks, enablers and spaces of youth participation in civic and political life.
Shakuntala’s longstanding 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 and low income contexts in the global south, critical approaches to pedagogy, communication and development, politically and socially 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 children and young people's interactions with media genres and technologies both old and new, and the ways in which interactions between childhood, youth, media, representation and group identities have been theorised in diverse philosophical, political, cultural and social contexts.
Her forthcoming book Children and Media in India is based on original interviews and observations with diverse children and families, as well as media producers and NGO staff in India over the past decade. It is available from Routledge in winter 2016. In particular, this book examines the ways in which children from different regions in India, social classes and backgrounds experience, participate in and make meaning from old and new media, school, local cultures and labour; the ways in which their lives in these arena are understood, represented and theorised in South Asia and the West; and the ways in which common theorisations of 'the digital', 'agency', and childhood serve to silence or elevate the interests of particular groups of children.
Shakuntala has been a contributor to the 46-country World Hobbit Project, January 2013-December 2015. This remains the biggest audience research project of all time, with more than 35,000 responses to the questionnaire! This project builds on previous audience research work in relation to comparative audience reception of film, and offers a fresh dataset with which to theorise the changing relationship of international films and audiences.
Previous research on online civic participation is available in The Civic Web co-authored with David Buckingham and on democracy and citizenship in Youth Participation in Democratic Life co-authored with Cammaerts, Bruter, Harrison and Anstead. Accessible summaries of these six years of research can also be found in a series of reports on the website www.civicweb.eu; in a Tedx talk given at the University of Hasselt, Belgium; in discussion with Professor Connor Gearty: ‘What does it Mean to be a Citizen?’; 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. The Civic Web, arose from EU Framework 6 funded research with young people and online civic producers across Europe and Turkey, examining technological tools for participation and links between online and offline civic participation, motivation, interactivity, context as well as national institutional respon
Dr. Shakuntala Banaji is the winner of the fourth European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Diener Prize, awarded by Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. She is also the winner of the 2015 LSESU Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching. Previous prizes and nominations include the 2011 LSE and LSESU Teaching Excellence Award for which she was also nominated in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016; in 2013 she was awarded of one of the prestigious LSE Major Review Teaching Prizes.
In addition to her duties as Programme Director for the Master’s in Media, Communication and Development, 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 and teaches MC407 International Media and the Global South [not running in 2017 when Dr. Banaji is on sabbatical]; lectures on MC418, Theories of Media and Communication, as well as occasional teaching on Methods Workshops MC4M1 in Visual Analysis. Shakuntala supervises research students at MSc and PhD level on topics ranging from civic participation and citizenship, education, gender, ethnicity and media, audiences, film, South Asian politics and critical development projects, to children, young people, visual analysis, and the internet. Current doctoral students’ projects include ‘Film viewers’ relationships to commodification of love, romance and technology’, ‘Satirical memes and discourses of gender and sexuality on the Chinese Internet’ and ‘Infrastructure and sociopolitical rhetoric of the digital in India’. Between 2010 and 2013, Shakuntala was convenor of the dissertation course in Media and Communications, MC499. She convened and jointly teaches a popular summer school course at Bachelor's year 2 level, IR140 Global Communications, Citizens and Cultural Politics.