The research activities of Purnima Mankekar, Associate Professor in the Departments of Gender Studies and Asian American Studies, engage interdisciplinary theories of affect at the interstices of transnational cultural, gender, and postcolonial studies. Her book, Unsettling India: Affect, Temporality, Transnationality, will be published by Duke University Press in 2015. It explores how circular media flows inform the construction of racialized and gendered identities of Indianness at home and in the diaspora—applying feminist anthropological methods to a transnational cultural study of media. The book is based on Professor Mankekar’s long-term ethnographic research across New Delhi and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Her aim is to break the binary oppositions between home and abroad, belonging and unbelonging, by addressing what it means to feel Indian through the popular cultural objects that continually move through the global market, including Bollywood films, Hindi TV shows, and ethnic specialty produce. The book’s fresh outlook on unsettlement as an alternative to the unidirectional flow from the West to India builds on Mankekar’s prior studies on the relationship between commodity affect, gender and sexuality, and nation on Indian television.
Her next project is a collaborative venture with Akhil Gupta, involving ethnographic field research on call centers in Bangalore. She is also completing a book on the racial violence against South Asians in the aftermath of 9/11.
In addition to her impressive research program, Mankekar is also well-respected on campus for her commitment to undergraduate and graduate education. She received the C. Doris and Toshio Hoshide Distinguished Teaching Prize in Asian American Studies at UCLA for the 2013-14 academic year.
–Dana M. Linda