What research questions currently preoccupy you?
I am interested in how media portrayals of different groups can serve to bridge or build intergroup differences, foster positive or negative intergroup contact, and influence our social identities.
What personal factors contributed to your research?
I had an idyllic childhood growing up in India. An army brat, I led a very sheltered life in a bubble where differences and diversity were embraced and celebrated. Emerging into the “real world” was a trip. Since then, I have been fascinated with intergroup communication.
What has been most challenging in your research?
Small effect sizes in media effects research. Bridging the ideological differences between qualitative and quantitative work, and teaching a healthy appreciation for all paradigmatic approaches. I do my bit by teaching my “No Hate, No Shade” method seminars.
How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?
I’ve enjoyed opportunities for collaboration across disciplines especially in my tenure at the erstwhile SPRI.
A hidden (research) talent:
Something desis might appreciate—it is called “jugaad”. I tend to approach any issues that crop up with a MacGyver-ish “how can I solve this with a safety-pin and 2 cents?” And I do end up resolving them successfully.
One book that changed your life (or research) and why:
The Foundation series (Isaac Asimov), Babel-17 (Samuel Delany), and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood). Psychology, sociology, predictions, language, culture, programming, gender roles, conflict—what’s not to love!
A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:
Intercultural and media journals, and Buzzfeed.
Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:
Be fearless. Find a mentor(s), if necessary from outside your department. Apply for every internal research grant and opportunity. Use the resources from CFD. Attend talks, and network. Find your tribe. Collaborate across disciplines.