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Indira S. Somani

Traditional Research

Somani studies how ethnic groups, specifically the Indian diaspora around the world, use media to stay connected to their homeland. Her research focuses on the generation of the Asian Indians that migrated to the U.S. between 1960 and 1972 and their media habits. This generation did not grow up watching television, because television was not introduced in India before 1959 and that was only in a few homes. They learned the act of watching television (enculturation) after migrating to the U.S. Eventually they became acculturated into watching Indian television when the programs became available via the satellite dish. From Aug. 2011 to Jan. 2012, she was in India on a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship to expand her dissertation research. The research enabled her to understand better the role of media in maintaining culture and identity for the Indian transnational audience. Below are links to her most recent publications:

Publications
"The American Filter," Asian Journal of Communication August 2011
"Becoming American," Journal of International & Intercultural Communication February 2010


Documentary Experience

The other part of her research overlaps with her professional practice and involves making documentary films about how ethnic groups maintain and preserve their cultural identities in another country. The cultural group she has worked with to date is Asian Indians, but she foresees ways of building on this with other cultural groups. She is currently working on two documentary films, one about the major Hindu festival Dev Deepavali shot in the holy city of Varanasi and the other on how the Indian diaspora identify with the Hindu religion in the U.S. Parts of both documentaries were filmed while she was in India on the Fulbright.