Arjun Shankar

Arjun Shankar
Arjun Shankar

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Kirner-Johnson 137

Arjun Shankar’s work brings together theories in globalization and development, literary and visual ethnography, affect theory, and curiosity studies. In his current book project, How Development Feels, Shankar analyzes the changing nature of development work in postliberalization India.

His research has been published in Visual Anthropology Review, Anthropology and Humanism, and Visual Communication Journal. He is  co-editing (with Perry Zurn) a manuscript to build the interdisciplinary field of curiosity studies. Shankar creates participatory films and has taught in schools and universities in the United States and India.

He completed his doctorate in anthropology and education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Social Policy and Practice.

He is on the board of the Society of Visual Anthropology, an editor for Cultural Anthropology’s “Writing with Light” photo-essay initiative, and the executive producer for American Anthropologist's flagship podcast, “Anthropological Airwaves.”

Recent Courses Taught

Globalization and the City: An Anthropological Interrogation


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Curiosity: A Transdisciplinary Approach, University of Pennsylvania, 2015.
  • Flaherty Film Fellowship, Wyncote Foundation, 2014 Flaherty Film Seminar, Colgate University, New York, 2014. 
  • Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Grant, Fulbright-Hays, 2013.

Select Publications

  • "A Critique of the Photovoice: Case Study from Karnataka, India." Visual Anthropology Review, 32:2, 157–166 (2016).
  • "The Curious Case of the Curiosity Center." Anthropology and Humanism, 41:2, 233–242 (2016).
  • Curiosity Studies: A Field of Inquiry. Eds. Perry Zurn and Arjun Shankar. University of Minnesota Press. (Forthcoming).
  • Shankar, Arjun (2016, w/ Priya Shankar). "Hidden in Plain Sight: Mental Health in India." The Lancet, (March 2016).
  • "Digital Parallax and Entanglements of Filmmaking." American Anthropologist, 117: 1, 162- 167. (2015).
  • "Towards a Critical Visual Pedagogy: A response to the End of Poverty narrative." Visual Communication Journal, 13: 341-356. (2014).

Professional Affiliations

American Anthropology Association 
American Educational Research Association 
Comparative and International Education Society 
Society for Anthropology of Consciousness 
National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore 
Society of Visual Anthropology 
Cultural Studies Association 

Appointed to the Faculty: 2017

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
M.S.T., Pace University
B.A., Columbia University


Development, Value, and Education in India's Digital Age
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