Shobana Shankar, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of History, was recently named to the 2022-2023 Wilson Center fellowship class for her project, “A Nigeria-India Nexus: Negotiating Cultural Economic Power in the Global South.” She is among 18 scholars and practitioners from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Israel, Mexico and Russia who will pursue projects while in residence at the Wilson Center.
“In awarding Professor Shankar this fellowship, the Wilson Center is recognizing the innovative and important nature of her work,” said Sara Lipton, professor and interim chair, Department of History. “Professor Shankar’s focus on transregional connections and interdisciplinary methodologies places her at the leading edge of trends in historical scholarship, while her attention to the ongoing implications of the developments she studies and engagement with policy experts reminds us that the past cannot be ignored as we address current challenges. The Department of History is enormously proud of Professor Shankar; Stony Brook is lucky to have her.”
Shankar’s book project traces the movements of people and goods between Nigeria and India, two populous nations holding sway in their respective regions and in global affairs, including massive global diasporas. She was featured in SBU News earlier this year regarding her recent book, An Uneasy Embrace: Africa, India and the Spectre of Race (Oxford/Hurst 2021), the first history of how race and racialization have brought Africans and Indians together, yet also driven them apart. The book is based on Shankar’s research in seven countries including Ghana, India, Nigeria and Senegal.
Shankar’s earlier work experience includes stints at the United Nations, New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the New York City public schools. Her research and teaching focus on cultural encounters and politics in colonial and postcolonial West Africa and Africa-India networks, especially in religion, health and education. Shankar is also author of Who Shall Enter Paradise? Christian Origins in Muslim Northern Nigeria, c.1890-1975 (Ohio University Press) and co-editor of Religions on the Move: New Dynamics of Religious Expansion in a Globalizing World (Brill, 2013) and Transforming Religious Landscapes in Africa: The Sudan Interior Mission, Past and Present (Africa World Press, 2018). Her work has been supported by Fulbright-IIE, Wenner Gren Foundation, Council of American Overseas Research Centers, American Historical Association and Goethe University in Frankfurt. Shankar has also written for wider audiences including an article for The Conversation about what the U.S. can learn from Nigeria about combatting vaccine hesitancy and another in The Washington Post on eugenicist practices at the Mississippi State Penitentiary. She is founder and co-editor of the new book series, African Religions, Social Realities (Ohio University Press).
The Wilson Center, chartered by Congress in 1968 as the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community.