Swara Bhasker has been awarded the Hughes Artist-in-Residence Fellowship at the Center for South Asia Studies at the prestigious American university, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The fellowship is awarded to artists, writers and performers as a recognition of outstanding and impactful achievements in their fields.
During her stay, she will be collaborating with faculty and students on art projects, and doing talks across campus. Part of the goal of the prestigious and exclusive fellowship is to allow reputed scholars and artists time for focused work on projects, in her time at Ann Arbor, she will be using her office at the School of Information for work on a feature-length script. During her stay, she will also be the keynote speaker at the "Social Media Influencers and the New Political Economy in South Asia and Africa" symposium where she will talk about "How social media unmade and made me: the changing contours of celebrity identity and activism in 'New India'.."
Joyojeet Pal, Associate Professor at the School of Information at U-Mich said, "We chose to have Swara be part of Michigan because we have a rich community of researchers in computational social sciences studying social media and society, so bringing someone who is an influencer offers a valuable complement to our research. Swara is also a rare person who has used her social media voice to comment on issues despite the obvious cost it has brought to her professional career, so her work is an important case study in dissent."
His views were added to by Omolade Adunbi, Associate Professor at the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies who said, "We invited Swara because of the important role she is playing in using her platform to advocate for the vulnerable is society. Her influence on social media extends beyond the borders of India and encompasses different geographic regions of the world. Her influence is felt in places such as Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries. Swara traverses important mediascapes that build bridges across generations. These wide range of experiences makes her a critical voice on social media, hence our desire to have her interact with the U Michigan community."
Swara is excited to be at U Mich and says, "I'm really honoured by this recognition and grateful for the opportunity to have access to the vast scholarly resources at U-Mich by way of the faculty, students and the libraries. I'm looking forward to some stimulating conversations and also sitting in on classes of interest here and broadening my understanding of various cultural and academic issues."
Interestingly, a few years ago Shabana Azmi was also awarded Hughes Artist-in-Residence Fellowship.