Research and Creative InterestsBrahminism, Cultural Studies, Feminisms, Postcolonial Media Studies, Indian Media,
Currently a PhD student at the Media School, my personal and intellectual investments are in studying caste, gender, and class as categories of difference in contemporary India, both in the mainstream media and through my particular lived experiences as an upper-caste Indian woman. In my research and teaching, I situate Indian media as a site where Brahminical regimes of caste and gender are reproduced through the production of public discourses of 'India' and 'Indian culture'. I am currently studying how Hindu caste elites construct Brahminical middle-class masculinity as a normative category in Engish-language media, both by the invocation of Hindu nationalism as well as in the liberal-secular narratives of 'Indian' diversity. My work so far has looked at caste mythologies in popular cultural phenomena, mainly in celebrity texts and mainstream news coverage.
My doctoral research, I hope, will contribute to expanding how media texts and audiences are constantly negotiating, resisting or sometimes reproducing hegemonic 'savarna' (upper-caste) discourses of caste, gender, and nationhood in contemporary India.
Rao, P. (2017, October 26). The Five-Point Indian: Caste, Masculinity, and English Language in the Paratexts of Chetan Bhagat. Journal of Communication Inquiry.
Rao, P. (2017, November 19). Cultural Citizenship in India: Politics, Power, and Media, by Lion König. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies,
Rao, P. (October 2017). Mani Ratnam's Oeuvre and Filmic Landscape of Caste in Tamil Cinema. Paper presented at 46th Annual Conference of South Asia 2017, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Rao, P. (May 2017). The Five-Point Indian: Caste, masculinity and English language in the paratexts of Chetan Bhagat. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) 2017, San Diego, California, USA.
Rao, P. (October 2016). Between the City & the Village: The People’s Archive of Rural India and Iconography of the Feminization of Poverty. Presented at Global Fusion 2016, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Rao, P. (July 2014) The Great Indian Mall: A Symbol of Violence in a Culture of Consumerism. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of IAMCR 2014 (International Association for Media and Communication Research), Hyderabad, Telangana, India.
- Frances G. Wilhoit Research Paper Award, Indiana University, Bloomington, April 2017
- Brantlinger-Naremore Prize for Best Graduate Essay in Cultural Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, April 2017.