Hanna Mannila is a PhD candidate in South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki, from where she also received her MA in South Asian Studies. Her master’s studies included a year as an Erasmus exchange student at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and another half a year at the Central Institute of Hindi in Agra, India.
The working title of Hanna’s PhD thesis is Can YouTube be a Guru? Indian Dance Gurus in Transformation: Changing Perceptions of their Status, Role and Function from Text to Digital Media. The research analyses the changes and continuities in the figure of guru and his authority in the Indian society from classical Sanskrit texts to the contemporary mediatized contexts, focusing on the gurus of Indian classical kathak dance. The approach is multidisciplinary, combining methodological and theoretical elements from South Asian Studies, Communication and Media Studies, Religious Studies and Ethnography. The research is embedded in two theoretical approaches: authority, as related to the arts and religion, and mediatization. The methodological approach is Ethno-Indological, which means combining the historical and contemporary perspectives by analysing diverse research material including textual and new media sources as well as Ethnographical fieldwork material.
Before her PhD studies, Hanna worked as a kathak dancer and teacher in London for ten years.