Sangita Shresthova is the Director of Research of the Civic Paths Group at at the University of Southern California. The Group's current work focuses on the Civic Imagination Project (CIP). CIP taps the civic imagination (our collective vision for what a better tomorrow might look like) to help diverse communities harness creativity for real world change. The Civic Imagination emerged as a key facet of Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP), an earlier Civic Paths initiative funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of its Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) research network. In the multi-year collaborative research project, MAPP looked at youth and youth-focused groups using new media and storytelling as central aspects of their political and activist movements, indicating a new culture of political participation understood through the framework of participatory culture.
Through her involvement in both CIP and MAPP, Sangita's own work focuses on the intersections among popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures and MSc. degrees from MIT and LSE. She received her BA from Princeton University.
Her book on Bollywood dance and globalization (Is It All About Hips?) was published by SAGE Publications in 2011. Her more recent research has focused on issues of storytelling and surveillance among American Muslim youth and the achievements and challenges faced by Invisible Children pre-and-post Kony2012. She is also one of the authors on By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of Youth, published by NYU Press in 2016. He work has also appeared in various academic and popular publications. She is currently working on three forthcoming books: Practicing Futures (a guide to harnessing the civic imagination in public life), Transformative Media Pedagogies (a collection of essays centered on the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change) and A Civic Imagination Casebook which are all slated to come out in 2020.
Drawing on her background in dance and new media, Sangita is also the founder of Bollynatyam (bollynatyam.com), a global Bollywood dance Project, and continues to explore Bollywood dance through this platform. Sangita’s creative work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), AIGA Boston/ATE Massaging Media Conference (Boston), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul), the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), and Akademi’s Frame by Frame (London, UK). Dancing Kathmandu, her documentary on the cultural marginalization of dancers in Nepal, was a curtain raiser at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival in 2007.
A Czech-Nepalese child of the final years of the Cold War, Sangita grew up between Prague and Kathmandu. Her early childhood was shaped by hostile visa policies and travel restrictions. In what could be seen as a reaction to this restrictive experience, she has since taken the opportunity to call many cities home (among them Brussels, London, Kandy, Ahmedabad, Berlin). She relishes any opportunity to draw on her mixed race/cultural chameleon-like background and routinely keeps track of multiple times zones. She is still most comfortable when her carry-on is packed and believes home is simply a place where there is someone waiting for you; right now that is Los Angeles.
Fields of Specialization:
civic engagement, civil society, digital media studies; communication and social change; global communication and digital culture; diversity, participatory cultures; performance and embodiment, digital media and learning; critical and cultural approaches to communication; qualitative, ethnographic and mixed-method research methods.