New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development has announced the appointment of Arjun Appadurai as the Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication. Appadurai joins the more than 20 faculty of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Media, Culture, and Communication who pursue original research and teach approximately 800 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs of study. Appadurai will also serve as senior fellow at NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge. The appointments are effective January 1, 2009.

“NYU has strengths in global studies, South Asian studies, history and cultural theory that fit with many of my interests and which are ready for further consolidation and collaboration,” said Appadurai. “I am impressed with the diversity and depth of the faculty in Media, Culture, and Communication and student interests which will allow me the context in which to enrich my own broad interests in media, globalization and cultural analysis.”

For Ted Magder, chair of the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and director of the NYU Council for Media and Culture, Appadurai’s appointment “highlights and strengthens the faculty’s commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and a global perspective.”

“Arjun Appadurai,” says Magder, “helped establish the initial frame for the study of globalization and continues to be a vital source of innovative academic perspectives and programs.”

Craig Calhoun, University Professor of the Social Sciences and director of the NYU Institute for Public Knowledge says, “Appadurai is among the most influential of contemporary anthropologists and scholars of culture. His work is influential across the social sciences and humanities, and notable also for reaching a broader public and building bridges to social movements. As a senior fellow of IPK he will be working to link the fields of design and social science in a range of areas from new media to housing for the poor and displaced.”

Appadurai was born and educated in Bombay. He graduated from St. Xavier’s High School and earned his Intermediate Arts degree from Elphinstone College before coming to the United States. He earned his B.A. from Brandeis University in 1970, and his M.A. (1973) and Ph.D. (1976) from the University of Chicago.

During his academic career, he has held professorial chairs at Yale University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania, and has held visiting appointments at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, Columbia University, and New York University. He serves on several scholarly and advisory bodies in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and India. He has authored numerous books and scholarly articles including Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (2006, Duke University Press) and Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, (1996, University of Minnesota Press; 1997, Oxford University Press, Delhi). His previous scholarly publications have covered such topics as religion, cuisine, agriculture, and mass culture in India.

He is one of the founding editors, along with Carol A. Breckenridge, of the journal Public Culture and was the founding director of the Chicago Humanities Institute at the University of Chicago (1992-1998), during which time he held the Richard J. and Barbara E. Franke Professorship. He is one of the founders of the Interdisciplinary Network on Globalization, a consortium of institutions in various parts of the world devoted to the study of global politics and culture.

Appadurai has held numerous fellowships and scholarships and has received several scholarly honors, including residential fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto (California) and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and an Individual Research Fellowship from the Open Society Institute (New York). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His current research has three foci: ethnic violence in the context of globalization, with a special focus on ethnic relations in Mumbai in the late 1980’s and 1990’s; a longer term collaborative project on the cultural dimensions of social crisis in Mumbai, focusing on housing, poverty, media and violence; a comparative ethnographic project on grass-roots globalization, intended to illuminate emergent transnational organizational forms and new practices of sovereignty.

Appadurai’s interests in linking theory and practice have led him to incubate a cohort of “barefoot researchers” in Mumbai, youth whose intimate knowledge of neighborhoods and urban histories has been nurtured in a non-profit group he helped to start in Mumbai called Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research. “PUKAR could be a wonderful partner for Steinhardt interests in the realm of socially progressive pedagogy and applied research,” he said.

Appadurai also has a longstanding interest in debates about the university of the 20th century and is committed to deepening the ties between the professional schools and the liberal arts, as a lever and beneficiary for NYU’s global outreach.

In response to his appointment Appadurai says, “Steinhardt combines concerns with practice and theory that have always been part of my interests. I also look forward to carrying forward my interests in design, globalization, and the liberal arts through Steinhardt and across NYU.”

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