Skip to main content
Northwestern School of Communication

Dilip Gaonkar

Professor, Culture and Communication; Director of the Center for Global Culture and Communication
Dilip Gaonkar

Dilip Gaonkar is Professor in Rhetoric and Public Culture and the Director of Center for Global Culture and Communication at Northwestern University. He is also the Director of Center for Transcultural Studies, an independent scholarly research network concerned with global issues. He was closely associated with the journal, Public Culture, serving as the Executive Editor (2000-2009) and as Editor (2009-2011). Gaonkar has two sets of scholarly interests: rhetoric as an intellectual tradition, both its ancient roots and its contemporary mutations; and, global modernities and their impact on the political.

He has published numerous essays on rhetoric, including “The Idea of Rhetoric in the Rhetoric of Science” that was published along with ten critical responses to the essay in a book, Rhetorical Hermeneutics: Invention and Interpretation in the Age of Science, edited by Alan G. Gross and William Keith (1996). Gaonkar has edited a series books on global cultural politics: Globalizing American Studies (with Brian Edwards, 2010), Alternative Modernities (2001), and Disciplinarity and Dissent in Cultural Studies (1995). He has also edited several special issues of journals: Laclau’s On Populist Reason (with Robert Hariman, for Cultural Studies, 2012), Cultures of Democracy (for Public Culture, 2007), Commitments in a Post-Foundational World (with Keith Topper, 2005), Technologies of Public Persuasion (with Elizabeth Povinelli, 2003), and New Imaginaries (with Benjamin Lee, 2002). He is currently working on a book manuscript on Modernity, Democracy and the Politics of Disorder.

In addition to his work for the Department of Communications Studies, Gaonkar also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of African American studies, the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and the graduate program in Screen Cultures.


  • PhD, Rhetoric and Communication, University of Pittsburgh
  • MA, Theatre, Tufts University
  • MA, Political Science, University of Bombay, India
  • BA, Politics and Philosophy, Elphinstone College, University of Bombay, India

Awards and Honors

  • The Berlin Prize, The American Academy in Berlin, Fall 2017 Residency Fellow.
  • Van Zelst Professor of Communication, 2001, Northwestern University
  • Helen Corley Petit Professorship, 1996, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Golden Anniversary Award, Speech Communication Association, 1991 and 1994
  • Best Article Award, Southern Communication Association, 1993
  • Rockefeller Resident Fellow, Center for Psychosocial Studies, 1992