Ph.D. Candidate/Associate Instructor
Research and Creative Interests
- Cultural Studies
- Digital Media Cultures
- South Asia
- Caste and Gender Studies
- Postcolonial Media
I am a doctoral candidate researching journalism, news histories, and digital media cultures in contemporary India. I predominantly use qualitative methods with cultural studies and postcolonial media studies frameworks in my research.
My dissertation broadly begins with the questions: How has neoliberal English-language news mobilized the material and cultural capital of caste in its political economy? How do social identities inform the assemblage of power and representation in contemporary news culture? I use anticaste frameworks, postcolonial and media globalization approaches, digital humanities methods, and semi-structured interviews to explore how caste capital animates contemporary English news–through its legacy forms and its embedded digital and social media forms–in functioning as a site of Brahminical modernity. I argue that the political economy of upper-caste media networks in 21st-century India critically mediates the making of the national and the social in our public culture.
As an instructor and teaching assistant, I have extensive experience in teaching undergraduate courses on diversity and representation in the media, film studies, media and social theory, digital media culture, and media writing.
My other research interests include South Asian media histories, anti-caste & feminist media studies, and media ethnography.
I have a professional Master’s degree in writing and communication from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and a background in freelance writing. I also worked as a lecturer in media writing and social theory for three years at the School of Communication, Manipal University prior to my doctoral studies.
Rao, P. (2019). Soch Aur Shauch: Reading Brahminism and patriarchy in ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’. Studies in South Asian Film & Media 9 (2), 79–96. https://doi.org/10.1386/safm.9.2.79_1.
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.
Ghosh, P., Parameswaran, R. and Rao, P. (Forthcoming, July 2021). Shit Talk in Shitty Terrain: Flushing Popular Indian Feminism Through YouTube’s Comedic Conduits.”Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.
Parameswaran, R. and Rao, P. (Forthcoming). “Rural India’s Virtual/Visual Archive: Mapping a Media Intervention from the Digital South.” In Handbook of Communication and Media in the Global South.
Parameswaran, R. and Rao, P. (2019, July 18). “From Lotus Goddess to Holy Basil: Transnational Racio-scapes in US Presidential Politics.” Global-e, 12(28). https://www.21global.ucsb.edu/global-e/july-2019/lotus-goddess-holy-basil-transnational-racio-scapes-us-presidential-politics.
Rao, P. (2018). Caste and the LoSHA Discourse. Communication, Culture and Critique, 11 (3), 494–497. Commentary.
Parameswaran, R. and Rao, P. (2018). Imagining, Imaging, and Implementing the New India. Journalism & Communication Monographs 20, no. 1, 74–79. Commentary.
Rao, P. (2017). Cultural Citizenship in India: Politics, Power, and Media by König, L (author). South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 40 (4), 927-928. Book Review.
Selected Conference Presentations
Caste Culture as Caste Power: Lifestyle Media and the Culturalization of Caste in India’s News Ecology. Full refereed research paper. Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2019, Toronto, Canada.
Rural India’s Virtual/Visual Archive: Materializing the Forgotten Citizens of the Nation. Full refereed research paper. 69th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) 2019, Washington D.C., USA.
Viral Toilets, Virtual Humor: Reading Gendered and Transgressive Bodies in Urban India. Panel Presentation. 69th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) 2019, Washington D.C., USA.
Mapping “Indian culture”: Caste as Pleasurable Consumption in Indian Lifestyle Journalism. Panel Presentation. presented at the 60th Annual Conference of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies (SCMS) 2019, Seattle, USA.
(The Media School, Indiana University, Bloomington)
- We Are Extremely Online: Digital Media and Participatory Cultures (Full Instructor) – Fall 2020
- Diversity in the Media (Full Instructor) – Spring 2020
- Screening Race and Ethnicity (Full Instructor) – Spring 2018
- Introduction to Production & Design (Associate Instructor) – Fall 2016
- Media 101 (Associate Instructor) – Fall 2018, Spring 2016, Fall 2015
(School of Communication, Manipal University)
- Media and Society (Full Instructor) – Spring 2014, Spring 2013
- Media Writing (Full Instructor) – Spring 2013
- Magazine Journalism (Full Instructor) – Fall 2013, Fall 2012
- Introduction to New Media (Full Instructor) – Fall 2012, Fall 2013
Selected Awards & Fellowships
- Kopenhaver Center Fellow, Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication, Florida International University, 2019.
- Annual Award for Best Article, Journal of Communication Inquiry (Vol. 42), presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference, Toronto, August 2019.
- Media School Graduate Teaching Award, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2018.
- Frances G. Wilhoit Research Paper Award, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2017.
- Brantlinger-Naremore Prize for Best Graduate Essay in Cultural Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2017.
- TMA Pai Gold Medal for Best Outgoing Student, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, 2006.
- Search Committee Member. For the position of Director of the Michael I. Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalism, The Media School, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2019.
- Organizer of Film Series, “Incarnations of Sridevi: Indian Cinema Superstar,” Indiana University, Bloomington, 2019.
- Records Chair, Media School Graduate Association, 2016-2017.
- Introducer for IU Cinema, Kabali (February 2017), Monsoon Wedding (April 2018).