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January Communication Faculty Highlight: Dr. Ishani Mukherjee

1. Describe your teaching values. What specific teaching strategies, beliefs, or resources do you draw on to create a learning environment that is inclusive, diverse, and accessible to all students? 

My approaches to teaching are transformative, praxis-based, and collaborative. I like to use learning approaches that help transform how students engage with learning inside and outside the classroom - cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally. I value dynamic knowledge-sharing among instructors and students in respectful and collaborative ways. For this, I firmly believe it's essential to create safe learning spaces where students feel included and comfortable sharing their opinions, values, and experiences. In my courses, I use accessible resources like real case studies, experience-based and professional testimonials, and reliable media texts, in all modalities, to encourage student-led discussions on current social issues, digital discourses, and communication conflicts and resolutions. All students are encouraged to engage in critical dialog and theoretical debate while practicing empathy, active listening, and communicative competence so that no voice is left unheard. To this end, we encourage each other to critically assess our assumptions, biases, privileges (or lack), and cultural locations via different insight activities and class discussions throughout the semester.


2.Tell us about your research interests! Feel free to share any relevant links to websites or CVs if you have them.

I enjoy researching diverse aspects of intercultural communication, digital activism, intersectional feminist advocacy, gender/race, and human mobility. I'm also curious about how such communication and critical cultural phenomena are presented and problematized in social media, popular media, and cinema, focusing primarily on South Asia and its diasporas. For instance, my recent research publication in the Journal of Communication Inquiry (2022), "Theoretical and Social Implications of Alternative 'Feminist' Media: Sexual Harassment and Intersectional Advocacy in India," explores the role of alternative 'digital' media in presenting intersectional perspectives and advocacy opportunities for transnational feminist mobilizations against sexual harassment, using the intercultural lens of #MeToo activists in India.


3.Any recent conferences attended? Any publications you’d like to shout out?

Here are some of the recent conferences where I presented my work, along with paper titles:

Mukherjee, I & Roque, R. (November 2023). Mapping #MeToo in America and India: Cross-cultural critical review of sexual harassment and digital activism research. NCA Annual Convention, November 2023, National Harbor, MD.


Mukherjee, I. (October 2023). To gaze without from within: A critical reading of gender semiotics in Satyajit Ray's [post]colonial film Ghare Baire (1984). Midwest Popular Culture Association Annual Convention, 6-8 October 2023, Chicago, IL.


Williams, M. G. & Mukherjee, I (November 2022). Burritos, dosas, & chop-suey: Locating food and food media at the intersection of migrant-host relationships and urban communication. NCA Annual Convention, November 17-20, New Orleans, LA.


Ram, A., Sen, R., Mukherjee, I. & Kapoor, P. (November 2022). Out of bounds: How South Asian comedians are creating spaces to challenge power and build community. NCA Annual Convention, November 17-20, New Orleans, LA.


Select Recent Publications:

Mukherjee, I., Shah, P.V., Dexter, T.E. (2023). "Feminism in India" framing #MeTooIndia: A case of digital activism. In: Wiesslitz, C. (Ed.) Women's Activism Online and the Global Struggle for Social Change. Palgrave Studies in Communication for Social Change. Palgrave Macmillan.


Mukherjee, I. (2021). Virus, Violence and [In]Visible Women: #LockDownMeinLockUp and Embodied Resistance During Covid-19. Journal of International Women's Studies, 22(12), 25-61.


Mukherjee, I. & Williams, M.G. (2021). Migration, Mobility, and Sojourning in Cross-cultural Films: Interculturing Cinema. Lexington Books.


4.What are you excited for in the future regarding Communication at UIC?

I am excited to see our department continue its valuable research and teaching engagement with social, cultural, political, interpersonal, mediated, and communal uses of technology, its affordances, limitations, and intricacies. In the future, I am excited for our department to be at the forefront of exploring complex relationships between humans and technologies/AI, mainly as those relationships navigate, include, or exclude our diverse identities and experiences in terms of gender, race, class, access, agency, and our lived realities. As a department with one of UIC's most representative and URM-inclusive student groups, I am excited to see how our new, timely, and diverse offering of student-centered courses and faculty/student-led scholarship will help our current and future students become critically informed professionals and conscientious and empathic community members.