Shalini Shankar

Shalini Shankar

Fellow: Awarded 2017
Field of Study: Anthropology and Cultural Studies

Competition: US & Canada

Dr. Shalini Shankar is Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern University. She is a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist concerned with issues of race and ethnicity, youth and migration, language use, and media. She has conducted ethnographic research with South Asian American youth and communities in Silicon Valley, with advertising agencies in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and with spelling bee participants and producers in various US locations.

Shankar earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Wesleyan University in 1994 and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from New York University in 2003. She is the author of three books: Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about Generation Z’s New Path to Success (Basic Books, May 2018); Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers (Duke University Press, 2015), and Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (Duke University Press, 2008). Her co-edited volume Language and Materiality: Theoretical and Ethnographic Explorations (with Jillian Cavanaugh) is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

During the Guggenheim Fellowship year, Shankar will be based in Brooklyn, NY. She will research Generation Z, exploring how this demographic category can be defined in ways that more centrally account for the contributions of immigrants and minorities.

Shankar is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including two National Science Foundation postdoctoral research grants (BCS-1323769 and BCS 0924472), a Wenner-Gren Foundation postdoctoral research grant, a Social Science Research Council Dissertation Fellowship, and a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.

Beyond academia, her work has taken public form in a wide range of outlets, including editorials and essays in Newsweek, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, and Quartz, interviews with Time and The Washington Post, and live television and radio appearances on APTV, BBC, CBC, CNN, NPR and PBS.

Photograph credit: Jim Prisching

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