Pallavi Rao

Ph.D. Student/Associate Instructor

Contact Information

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  • Research and Creative Interests

    Brahminism, Whiteness, Gender, Cultural Studies, Political Economy, Postcolonial theory,


    Currently a PhD student at the Media School, my personal and intellectual investments are in deconstructing caste, gender, and class as categories of difference in contemporary India, both in the production of mainstream media narratives and through my particular lived experiences as an upper-caste 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" and "secular" narratives of Indian diversity. My doctoral research, I hope, will contribute to expanding postcolonial approaches to media studies with a regional focus on India. 


    Rao, P. (2018). The Five-Point Indian: Caste, Masculinity, and English Language in the Paratexts of Chetan Bhagat. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 42(1), ) 91–113.

    Book Review

    Rao, P. (2017). Cultural Citizenship in India: Politics, Power, and Media, by Lion König. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 40(4), 927-928.

    Conference Presentations

    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.