Professor Shakuntala  Banaji

Professor Shakuntala Banaji

Professor of Media, Culture and Social Change

Department of Media and Communications

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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 approaches 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 more than fifty articles and chapters on orientalism and racism in media, Hindi horror films, social media use in the Middle East and North Africa and children, social class and media in India. Her recent publications deal with disinformation, misinformation and fake news, creativity, democracy, the internet, social media 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 creativity, citizenship, development, participation 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 disinformation, misinformation, toxic speech and hate speech are reconfiguring the public spheres of India, the UK and other nations. These themes have been pursued through ongoing and recently completed projects. The European Commission Horizon 2020 Young 5a funded project, CATCHEyoUConstructing Active Citizenship with European youth: policies, practices, challenges and solutions, which investigated 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. Her edited book with Sam Mejias, Youth Active Citizenship in Europe: Ethnographies of Participationwas published with Palgrave in 2020. Current research includes a WhatsApp misinformation grant with Ram Bhat studying the connections between lynching in India and misinformation circulated online and research into the connections between mediated disinformation, social media and histories of hate in Brazil, India, Myanmar and the UK, which will be forthcoming as a new book, Social Media and Hate with Routledge in 2022.

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 (now UCL), 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.


Professor Shakuntala Banaji was Principal Investigator of one of the twenty WhatsApp social science misinformation grants (2018-2020). This project, with Ram Bhat, entitled WhatsApp Vigilantes: An exploration of citizen reception and construction of WhatsApp messages’ triggering mob violence in India outlined typologies of fake news, misinformation, disinformation and hate speech that circulate on WhatsApp and other social media apps and platforms in India, and which have created a climate that either leads to or legitimises violence against already vulnerable citizens. In addition, it examined the possibility of a typology of users who are more or less likely to be responsible for passing on false information in India. Continuing this research, Banaji and Bhat have been researching the dehumanisation, violence and hate that is targeted at minorities and marginalised social groups in Brazil, India, Myanmar and the UK with a focus on the lived experience of users of social media who are the targets of this systematic disinformation and hostility and the possibilities for short, medium and long-term legal, political, technological and educational solutions.

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.

Prof. 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, environmental concern and anxiety amongst youth, 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 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 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.

Prof. Banaji was 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 amongst Prof. Banaji’s online publications; 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 with David Buckingham, Citizenship and media education in contested timesThe 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 MC407 International Media and the Global SouthMC421 Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Development and MC426 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 with a particular focus on research ethics, race and racism, postcolonial theory and audiovisual analysis.

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. Prizes and nominations include the 2019 and 2011 LSE and LSE Students' Union Teaching Excellence Award for which she was also nominated in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. In 2013 she was awarded of one of the prestigious LSE Major Review Teaching Prizes and has been awarded LSE Excellence in Education prizes in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Doctoral supervision

Professor Banaji supervises doctoral research on topics ranging from participation, disinformation and hate online, citizenship, race, 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 Dr Benjamin De-La-Pava-Velez’ ‘Film viewers’ relationships to commodification of love and romance on screen’, Dr Yanning Huang’s ‘Satirical memes and discourses of gender and sexuality on the Chinese Internet’ and Dr Ramnath Bhat’s ‘The politics of digital infrastructure in India’. 

Professor Banaji's current doctoral supervisees include Gazal Shekhawat, Hao Wang, Limichi Okamoto, Husseina Ahmed, Ronggang Chen, Fatma Khan and Ruhi Khan. Other second and co-supervisees who have completed successfully include Dr Ziyan WangDr Xiaoxi Zhu, Dr Rafal Zaborowski and Dr Rahoul Masrani.

External commitments

Professor Banaji is conference co-chair of the 72nd  Annual International Communication Association 2022 (ICA) Conference in Paris, and on the editorial boards of Communication, Culture and Critique and Journal of Applied Communication Research. From 2012-2020, she was lead editor for Anthem Press book series, Global Media and Communication. She was an expert consultant 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 and delivered symposia and keynotes in Belgium, China, Estonia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, the US and the UK, including plenary keynotes at IAMCR2016 and 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 race and representation, film and television audience imaginaries and studies, online hate and disinformation, journalism, nationalism, representation, youth, gender, work, and media.