Shaunak Sastry

Shaunak Sastry

Assistant Professor
University of Cincinnati


I am currently working on two manuscripts from my dissertation, which is an ethnographic study of how long-distance truck drivers from India understand their role in India’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. As seasonal migrants, truckers in India are a high-risk group for HIV/AIDS, and consequently a target for health communication interventions. Drawing from critical theories of health, cultural studies and ethnographic methods, my work attempts to re-center health campaigns to attend to structural and social determinants of health, as determined by trucker narratives.

keywords to describe research

Global health, HIV/AIDS, marginalization, culture-centered, critical-cultural approaches

Work in relation to symposium keywords

I am interested in the politics of dissemination, and this of central concern to my research project. Who gets to decide the content and nature of “communication” in a global health context? In the case of marginalized communities, how can communication scholarship reconfigure the “asymmetric” flow of expertise from the academy to the participant? This question also embodies my concern for health communication “theory”, in the sense of decolonizing theory from its position in the first-world academy.

Participation Questions

For me, if health communication is committed to its principles of symmetry, its emphasis must be to “bring back” voices from the field, to be a mode of speaking to power in the ways in decisions made in the academy have real-world impact on the lives of those outside it. The health communication scholar’s primary task is to facilitate conversations between the designers and the objects of health communication scholarship, even as she realizes the impossibility of true representation of “community voices.” Besides the terms provided above, I would add the keyword “global” since my work explores the politics of health promotion at a global level.


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