Associate Professor Radha Hegde has received the 2014-2015 Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award in the research category to pursue an eight-month ethnographic project in India during her sabbatical. The focus of Hegde’s research will be on the shifting role that English language plays in the social and cultural landscape of modern India. What had once been a skill that defined an elite class, is now being depicted as a means of democratization, allowing all workers a chance to compete in the global economy.
Hegde will spend four months each in the cities of Hyderabad and Chennai where she will conduct interviews, focus groups, and observe English-language training institutes and online platforms. In the information technology hub of Hyderabad, she will be affiliated with the Department of Communication at the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication.
Hegde outlines the following questions as being central to her investigation:
How is a new English-speaking Indian subject and workforce being defined? In what ways are the power and social capital of India perceived and reproduced? What are the cultural politics attached to the style and use of English? How do the media landscape in India and the power of media technologies affect and influence this linguistic circulation? What classed and gendered patterns emerge in these linguistic choices? How are these choices related to the growing middle class and its aspirational ethos?