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 studying journalism, news histories, and digital media cultures in contemporary India, using qualitative methods, cultural studies approaches, and postcolonial media studies frameworks in my writing and teaching. My current research focuses on the sociology of news production and studies the centrality of caste capital in India’s technologically integrated English-language news media ecology, and the injustice of caste’s subsequent influence on organizational processes and the production of news discourses.
My dissertation broadly begins with the questions: How has neoliberal English-language news participated in constructing the national imaginary of “India”? What social identities inform the assemblage of power and representation in contemporary news culture? I then use postcolonial and media globalization studies, anticaste frameworks, digital humanities methods, and semi-structured interviews to closely examine how contemporary journalism–with its embeddedness in digital and social media platforms–functions as a site of liberal modernity that bolsters the institutionalization of caste and consolidates the capital of Brahmins & upper castes.
As an instructor and teaching assistant, I have close to a decade of experience in teaching undergraduate courses on race and diversity in the media, film studies, communication, culture and society, digital media, and media writing. In my teaching, I prioritize media literacy, recognizing media representation as cultural citizenship, and developing oppositional reading strategies and hermeneutics across form and content. I strongly believe a critical media pedagogy for methods of reporting, writing and editing that are rooted in anti-racist anti-caste feminist thinking is of urgent importance in J-schools and media institutes.
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.
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 Brahmin as “Culture”: Problematizing Caste in India’s Media Event Space. Full refereed research paper. 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) 2018, Prague, Czech Republic.
Mani Ratnam’s Oeuvre and Filmic Landscape of Caste in Tamil Cinema. Panel presentation. 46th Annual Conference of South Asia 2017, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
(Discussant). Contextualizing Race with Caste in India: History and Contemporaneity. Panel on ‘Anti-Blackness and Racism in South Asia.’ Indiana University, Bloomington. 11 April 2016.
(The Media School, Indiana University, Bloomington)
- 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
- 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).