My name is Anushka Shah, and I work as a researcher at Ethan Zuckerman’s Center for Civic Media here at the MIT Media Lab. My work focuses on using text analytics to analyze news language and on producing research with a new analytics tool called Media Cloud.
Home is Mumbai (really, Bombay) for me. It’s where I grew up, where I went to school, and where my family lives. I studied Government and Economics in the U.K. for my undergraduate education, with the hope of returning to India to participate in the political sector. When I did return home, I slowly came to realize there were two Indias; a socially and economically comfortable one that I grew up in, and a difficult, dark, disadvantaged one that I only saw at a distance.
I spent the next three years working with non-profit organizations and grass-roots political parties trying to understand various aspects of this other India. It was an important experience for me, not because I learned much of how certain issues could be positively affected, or what policies worked on ground and didn’t, but because I understood how deeply complex rural India is.
Amidst other things, the simplistic narratives about rural India that I and many others grew up with, kept the two Indias apart. I got interested in media as a way to affect opinion, knowledge, and eventually civic engagement in India. I studied applied quantitative research with a focus on news analytics, and now work in Ethan’s lab using Media Cloud to research Indian media.
Going forward, I want to use my quantitative media skills and field experience in India to design effective media messaging back home.