Anthropology Professor Named Hunt Postdoctoral Fellow

A look at newspaper cartoons and their socio-political impact has earned an anthropology professor high praise and a prestigious fellowship.

Dr. Ritu Khanduri

Dr. Ritu Khanduri

Dr. Ritu Khanduri, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, was recently awarded the Richard Carley Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The highly competitive grant was issued based on the professor’s research into newspaper cartoons and the formation of social knowledge in colonial and postcolonial India.

“I am delighted and humbled by this award,” Khanduri said. “The Hunt Postdoc is a particularly competitive fellowship; I am glad to know that my peers support my project and value the contribution it will make to anthropology, and research on media studies and South Asia.”

Khanduri said the fellowship will support her current book, “Caricaturing Culture.” India, she said, has among the largest number of newspaper readers on the globe and cartoons have historically played an important political role. Khanduri said her book will address an under-researched visual culture and look at the politics of shared media spaces — a topic, she said, that has global significance.

“This is a major accomplishment for Dr. Khanduri,” said Dr. Shelley Smith, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “It is a testament to the significance and excellent quality of her research that Ritu’s proposal was one of the select few to be funded. It’s a reflection of the strength of our program.”

According to the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s website, only eight Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded annually. Khanduri was also recently selected for a Leadership Fellow Award by the American Anthropological Association — one of two awards given nationally to junior faculty.

Khanduri added that she is not the only professor in UT Arlington’s anthropology program to garner such attention. Dr. Naomi Cleghorn and Dr. Angela Keller each received prestigious fellowships for their work in the field, and Dr. Christian Zlolniski received the National Science Foundation and Wenner-Gren Post Ph.D. Fellowship for his research project last year.

“We’re delighted to see our faculty receive such prestigious honors,” said Dr. Beth Wright, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Their research, and the recognition it has received nationally and internationally, exemplifies our university’s emerging Tier One status.”

Khanduri said there was a moment of disbelief when she heard she had received the fellowship award, which will run through next summer. But then reality set in and she said she immediately set out to thank those who had contributed to her career and study.

“I thought of my teachers in India and the U.S., my parents and my family, and thanked them,” she said. “Fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright Foundation and the Institute for Historical Research (University of London)-Mellon Foundation aided the project in its early stages. UTA’s Research Enhancement Program award supported me in taking the project further. I am grateful for this support.”

Khanduri expects to have the book finished next summer and published in late 2011 or early 2012.

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[Story by James Dunning, COLA Communications]

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