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Shalini Shankar is an anthropologist, writer and ethnographer of stories, especially of the Asian American diaspora.

Her latest work, Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about the New American Childhood (Basic Books), is forthcoming this April 30, 2019. Shankar, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, argues that, far from being simply overstressed and overscheduled, Gen Z spelling bee competitors are learning crucial twenty-first-century skills from their high-powered lives, displaying a sophisticated understanding of self-promotion, self-direction, and social mobility.

Shankar, who teaches at Northwestern University, takes special care in uncovering nuance in Asian American stories. She is currently interim director of Northwestern’s Asian American Studies program, and, through her research, has contributed immensely to the field.

Shankar is available for interviews, op-eds and events. Contact her at