PhD in Cultural Studies

Pavithra Suresh

Pavithra Suresh

Describe your current area of research and/or your academic interests:

My research focuses on the nexus of disablement, queerness, and other politics of difference, including race, ethnicity, gender, class, and caste. My dissertation explores mental health, despair, and resistance in the South Asian American community of Research Triangle, NC.

Why did you choose George Mason to pursue your studies?

I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies since the discipline’s theoretical and methodological approach enables me to perform the kind of inquiry necessary for critical research. George Mason has one of the only Cultural Studies doctoral programs in the country and the university is reputable for its investment in research and scholastic work.

Are there faculty or staff members who have made a difference thus far during your Mason career? Please give an example of this impact if possible.

My advisor and dissertation chair Dr. Roger Lancaster (Cultural Studies) has supported me in focusing my thinking about social institutions and offering fantastic feedback to help make my writing more precise.

I am so appreciative of my dissertation committee members Dr. Rashmi Sadana (Sociology & Anthropology/Cultural Studies) and Dr. Alex Monea (Cultural Studies/English) for their feedback and support as well.

I was lucky to work closely with the Center for Humanities Research at Mason as a doctoral fellow in Fall 2022; the feedback from my cohort, particularly feedback from Center director Dr. Alison Landsberg (Cultural Studies/History) and Fall ’22 fellow Dr. Hatim El-Hibri (Cultural Studies/English), emboldened my thinking tremendously. 

Finally, working with Dr. Tim Gibson (Cultural Studies/Communication) on a Curriculum Impact Grant to develop new courses on race/ethnicity for the Cultural Studies program was a wonderful experience. Dr. Gibson embodies the kind of solidarity and fellowship that graduate students should expect from their faculty colleagues.

How do you hope to use your degree and studies in the future?

My goal with my degree is to complete progressive research in support of leveling structural inequalities and creating meaningful access. I hope to apply my degree to work at a research institute, think tank, or university.

How do you plan to use your studies in the future to support social justice?

Social justice is central to the work I do and plan to do in the future. As a field, Cultural Studies is rooted in social equity and inclusion. I aim to apply my research and the methods I've learned to create more meaningful access and inclusion for marginalized populations.

How will the Dean’s Challenge scholarship support your studies?

The Dean's Challenge scholarship will help me to continue investing in my dissertation research. It is more expensive than ever to be a graduate student, and this scholarship will alleviate significant financial strain so I can focus on my research.