Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies, Northwestern University

Shalini Shankar is a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist whose central concerns include media, semiotics, race and ethnicity, youth culture, Asian America, and the South Asian diaspora. She has conducted research in Silicon Valley, CA, and in New York, NY, and is the author of two books. The first, Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (Duke Press, 2008) analyzes the progress working class and middle class South Asian American youth and communities during the high tech boom and bust. The second, Advertising Diversity: Ad Agencies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers (Duke Press, 2015), examines how race and ethnicity are leveraged in a "post-racial" era of American advertising. Shankar’s current research, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, examines the growth and proliferation of spelling competitions, specifically how they have become a mass-mediated, sport-like spectacle, why South Asian American children seem to dominate them, and how spelling bee franchises are being exported to interested countries in ways that further commodification of the English language. She is presently conducting ethnographic and sociolinguistic fieldwork in the New York City area with parties related to spelling bees, including spellers and their families, broadcasters such as ESPN and SONY TV, spelling bee production companies, and the Scripps Foundation.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of Anthropology, Northwestern University