Professor Shakuntala  Banaji

Professor Shakuntala Banaji

Professor of Media, Culture and Social Change

Department of Media and Communications

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Office Hours
By appointment on Student Hub
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Key Expertise
International Media and the Global South

About me

Shakuntala Banaji is Professor of Media, Culture and Social Change in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Media, Communication and Development.

Professor Banaji lectures on International Media and the Global South, film theory and world cinema, and critical pproaches to media, communication and development in the Department. She has published extensively on young people, children and media as well as gender, ethnicity and new media and cinema, with articles on Hindi horror films, social media use in the Middle East and North Africa and children, social class and media in India recently published; and chapters on orientalism and racism in Media, and child stars in Hindi cinema available. She has also published on misinformation and fake news, creativity, democracy, the internet and civic participation.

Professor Banaji's research addresses the intersection between socio-political contexts, media, identities and participation. Her focus is twofold: first 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 the notion of agency, and position child and youth subjectivities. And second, on the ways in which historical propaganda and current misinformation, disinformation and hate speech are reconfiguring the public spheres of India, the UK and other nations. These themes have been pursued through two recently completed 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 (2015-2018) in collaboration with American University Sharjah, funded by the LSE Middle East centre's Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme. Current research includes a WhatsApp misinformation grant to study the connections between lynching in India and misinformation circulated online. Her new edited book with Sam Mejias, Youth Active Citizenship in Europe Ethnographies of Participation, was published with Palgrave in 2020.

Expertise Details

Bollywood; Hindi cinema; South Asia; audiences; children; creativity; film studies; international media; media education; media literacy; misinformation and disinformation; online participation; social media and hate speech; youth civic participation.

Education and professional history

Professor Banaji obtained a Bachelor's in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Warwick; a Postgraduate Certificate of Education from Goldsmiths College, University of London, an MA English Studies in Education and a PhD in 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.


Dr. Shakuntala Banaji is currently Principal Investigator of one of the twenty WhatsApp misinformation grants. This project, with Ram Bhat, is entitled WhatsApp Vigilantes: An exploration of citizen reception and construction of WhatsApp messages’ triggering mob violence in India.This project seeks to outline typologies of fake news, misinformation, disinformation and hate speech that circulate on WhatsApp and other social media apps and platforms in India, and have created a climate that either leads to or legitimises violence against already vulnerable citizens. In addition, it examines the possibility of a typology of users who are more or less likely to be responsible for passing on false information.

Recently completed research projects include 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. Her new edited book on this project with Sam Mejias, Active Citizenship: Ethnographies of Participation is out with Palgrave in 2020. She was also Principal Investigator on Personalised Media and Participatory Culture (2015-2018) 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.

Dr Banaji’s longstanding research interests include the socio-political contexts of audiences, the meaning, history and textual study of cinema, particularly International and 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 (including misinformation and disinformation circulated online), 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 recent book Children and Media in India (Routledge 2017) 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. In particular, this book re-theorises agency from a subaltern and global south perspective and 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.

Dr. Banaji 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; 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 - 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 responses.




Other publications 

View a comprehensive list of Professor Banaji's pubilcations


Postgraduate teaching

In addition to her duties as Programme Director for the MSc Media, Communication and Development, Professor Banaji also convenes the postgraduate courses International Media and the Global South, Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Development and Film Theory and World Cinema. She has also convened and jointly taught on the popular short course at Bachelor's year 2 level Global Communications, Citizens and Cultural Politics.

Professor Banaji also contributes lectures to team-taught postgraduate Media and Communications courses relating to theories and research methodologies.

Between 2010 to 2013, Professor Banaji was convenor of the Department's Master's dissertation course and from 2017 to 2020 she was the  Director of Graduate Studies, with direction and oversight for all MSc teaching delivery across the Department.

Professor Banaji is 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 LSE Students' Union 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.

Doctoral supervision

Professor Banaji supervises doctoral research 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. Previous 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’. 

Professor Banaji's current doctoral supervisees include Husseina Ahmed, Fatma Khan and Ruhi Khan. She supervised Dr Ram BhatDr Yanning Huang, Dr Xiaoxi Zhu, Dr Benjamin De la Pava and Dr Rahoul Masrani until their successful completions.

External commitments

Professor Banaji 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.

Professor Banaji 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.