Anasuya Sengupta

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Sengupta in 2013.

Anasuya Sengupta is an Indian poet, author, activist, and a cited expert in representation for marginalized voices on the Internet.[1][2]

Anasuya Sengupta
Born1974 (age 48–49)
Known forFounder of Whose Knowledge
  • Abhijit Sengupta (father)

Early life[edit]

Sengupta was born in 1974 to her father, Abhijit Sengupta, a senior Indian administrative officer, and her mother, Poile Sengupta (née Ambica Gopalakrishnan), an actress, author of children's literature, and playwright.[3] She spent the majority of her childhood in North Karnataka, a region of southern India.[citation needed]

On her upbringing, Sengupta remarked, "I have grown up in a family that is committed to social justice."[3] She speaks English, Hindi, Kannada, Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam.[4]


She finished her 12th grade from National Public School, Indira Nagar in 1992. Sengupta received her B.A. in economics from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, a constituent college of Delhi University in New Delhi, India, where she graduated in 1995 with honours.[5][6][7] She is noted as a prominent alumni of Lady Shri Ram College for Women Sengupta was invited to recite part of her poem "Silence" at the 2014 Genderknowledge Academic Congress, which was held at her undergraduate alma mater.[8]

In 1998, she received a master of philosophy degree in development studies from Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University studying as a Rhodes Scholar.[3][9] She later did her doctoral work in politics at Oxford studying formal and informal structures and practices within the police in Karnataka.[10] According to Paul Amar's book New Racial Missions of Policing: International Perspectives on Evolving Law, the title of her thesis at Oxford was "Embedded or Stuck: the Study of the Indian State, its Embeddedness in Social Institutions and State Capacity."[11] Sengupta contributed a chapter to this book, entitled, "Concept, Category, and Claim: Insights on Caste and Ethnicity from the Police in India."[11] Additionally, Sengupta was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley from 2007 to 2009.[4]

Work and activism[edit]

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became aware of one of Sengupta's poems in March 1995, when Clinton was the First Lady and visiting India. Later, Clinton used it in her speeches in Delhi and at a United Nations women's conference in Beijing, China.[5][6][12][7][3][13]

(excerpt from "Silence"):

Too many women
in too many countries
speak the same language
of silence

The poem also inspired Clinton to write a chapter in her autobiography, Living History entitled "Silence Is Not Spoken Here".[5][6][12][7][14][3]

Sengupta co-edited Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation (2005) which was reviewed favorably by Sister Namibia.[15] The Women's Review of Books praised her essay in Defending Our Dreams, calling it a "visionary" work about feminism and the eradication of poverty.[16] In Development in Practice, a reviewer comments that the "connection between dreaming and planning is the most arresting element the book offers to its readers. The dreams of its young contributors, are demonstrating new visions, new skills, and new approaches to development and feminism, which present a potential breakthrough in strategies for promoting social justice and women's rights."[17] Feminist Studies praised the book and wrote, "This volume does provide a surprisingly cohesive account, for a collection, of the thinking of key feminists about international trends."[18]- See the publications section below for more information.

Sengupta (far right) in a panel discussion at Wikimania 2017 in Montreal

Sengupta was the Chief Grantmaking Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco, California.[19][20]

Whose Knowledge? Campaign[edit]

Along with Siko Bouterse, she was the co-founder of Whose Knowledge, a global campaign to center the knowledge of marginalized communities (the majority of the world) on the internet, including Asia, Africa and Latin America.[21] She works as the co-director of the organization alongside Adele Vrana. The group has been described as "a global, multilingual campaign to reimagine the internet to be for and from all."[by whom?][citation needed]

In October 2018, Sengupta's work to decolonise the internet was supported by a fellowship from the Shuttleworth Foundation.[22]

In a keynote speech she gave at the Digital Library Federation's 2018 Forum, Sengupta spoke on her work to decolonise the internet. She said, "decolonising [the internet is] at the heart of true empowerment. In many ways, the crisis of violence and injustice that we face today feel like they are rooted in a hidden crisis of unknowing."[23] Sengupta went on to discuss the importance of libraries and the need for a greater representation of the world's languages on the internet.[23]

Sengupta has used her platform to advocate for the decolonisation of knowledge in the Media. On 11 July 2016, she co-authored an article with Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Harjit Kaur, and Umar Malick on the need for revisions for social-science textbooks in California for the Indian Express.[24] In this article, the authors argue that the Hindutva lobby has marginalised the identities of other communities (such as the Dalit people, whom Whose Knowledge works with) in their effort to revise California's textbooks.[24] They also advocate for the removal of historical inaccuracies in textbooks to dismantle false narratives about certain religious or ethnic groups, specifically Muslims.[24]

Furthermore, Sengupta has been featured in other major media outlets for her work to decolonise the internet, including BBC News, The Guardian, Mail & Guardian, and The Atlantic, among others.[25][26][27][28]

On 11 December 2018, Sengupta and Claudia Pozo released a resource series, "Our Stories, Our Knowledges" through Whose Knowledge. It is divided split into four parts: "Part 1: Decolonising Our Stories and Knowledges", "Part 2: Transformative Practices for Building Community Knowledges", "Part 3: Adding Our Knowledge to Wikipedia", and "Part 4: How to Ally and Be a Good Guest". The series focuses on the structures of power which silence marginalized voices, practices for those communities to overcome epistemic barriers placed upon them by white colonialist structures, the work of Whose Knowledge in these efforts, and advice for allies who want to get involved in decolonising the internet.[29]

In September 2018, The Oxford Internet Institute awarded Sengupta the Internet and Society Awards for her work on Whose Knowledge; Nani Jensen Reventlow was also presented with this honor for her work on the Digital Freedom Fund, an organization which works towards the advancement of digital rights in Europe through litigation.[citation needed]

Publications and Scholarship[edit]

Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation.[edit]

This book features writing from eighteen diverse feminists from Australia, Barbados, Canada, India, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, UK, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela. These feminists discuss pressing socio-political themes including women's rights, the economy, sexual identity, technologies and innovation, and the development of gender-based political movements. It was conceptualized and edited by Wilson, Sengupta, and Evans in an attempt to bring together the narratives of feminists from varying socio-economic, geopolitical, and racial backgrounds.[30][31][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Graham, Mark; Sengupta, Anasuya (5 October 2017). "We're all connected now, so why is the internet so white and western? | Mark Graham and Anasuya Sengupta". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Who edits Wikipedia?, Newshour - BBC World Service". BBC. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Beary, Habib (27 June 2003). "Indian's silence speaks to Hillary". BBC News. Archived from the original on 10 June 2004. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Anasuya Sengupta - SheSource Expert - Women's Media Center". Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Staff writers (20 July 2009). "DU passout's poem inspired chapter in Clinton's autobiography". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Purdum, Todd S. (30 March 1995). "Hillary Clinton Finding a New Voice". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Melanne Verveer; Kim K. Azzarelli (6 October 2015). Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-544-52800-0. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  8. ^ Bains, Bani (6 March 2014). "Kamla Bhasin, Nivedita Menon and Vrinda Grover lead day one at LSR Genderknowledge". DU Beat. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Anasuya Sengupta – gladly beyond any distance". Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Speakers | Institute for South Asia Studies". 24 May 2016. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  11. ^ a b Amar, Paul (2010). New racial issues [missions] of policing : international perspectives on evolving law-enforcement politics. Routledge. pp. iix. OCLC 730006171.
  12. ^ a b "Indian social worker Anasuya Sengupta ta". Getty Images. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  13. ^ Chakravarthy, Smitha (7 August 2003). "A poem that moved a Clinton". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 January 2004. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  14. ^ Paul Amar (13 September 2013). New Racial Missions of Policing: International Perspectives on Evolving Law-Enforcement Politics. Taylor & Francis. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-317-98903-5.
  15. ^ "Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation". Sister Namibia. December 2005. Retrieved 5 November 2023 – via TheFreeLibrary.
  16. ^ Humphrey, Michelle (July 2006). "New Dreams, New Faces". The Women's Review of Books. Retrieved 5 November 2023 – via TheFreeLibrary.
  17. ^ Alvarez-Manzano, Yessica (2006). "Review of Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation". Development in Practice. 16 (2): 227–229. JSTOR 4029884.
  18. ^ Porter, Marilyn (Spring 2007). "Transnational Feminisms in a Globalized World: Challenges, Analysis, and Resistance". Feminist Studies. 33 (1): 43–63 – via EBSCOhost.
  19. ^ Hartnell, Caroline (9 October 2013). "Just published: interview with Anasuya Sengupta of the Wikimedia Foundation – Alliance magazine". Alliance magazine. Archived from the original on 12 September 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  20. ^ McCambridge, Ruth (24 September 2013). "The Radical Passion Economy of Wikipedia: An Interview with Anasuya Sengupta – Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly". NPQ: Nonprofit Quarterly. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  21. ^ "MIT Libraries host Grand Challenges Summit". MIT News. 30 March 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Anasuya Sengupta". The Guardian. 5 October 2017. Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b Sengupta, Anasuya. "Decolonizing Knowledge, Decolonizing the Internet: An Agenda for Collective Action." Digital Library Federation. DLF Forum Opening Plenary, Las Vegas, NV. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  24. ^ a b c "California textbooks: The next stage of the battle". The Indian Express. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  25. ^ "BBC World Service – Newshour, Who edits Wikipedia?". BBC. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  26. ^ Graham, Mark; Sengupta, Anasuya (5 October 2017). "We're all connected now, so why is the internet so white and western? | Mark Graham and Anasuya Sengupta". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  27. ^ Welle, Deutsche (22 July 2018). "Wiki foundation wants to 'decolonise the internet'". The M&G Online. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  28. ^ Khazan, Olga (1 August 2016). "What Criticisms of Hillary's Voice Say About Our Hidden Biases". The Atlantic. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  29. ^ "New Resource! Our Stories, Our Knowledges". Whose Knowledge. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  30. ^ Defending our dreams : global feminist voices for a new generation. Wilson, Shamillah., Sengupta, Anasuya., Evans, Kristy., Association for Women's Rights in Development. London: Zed Books. 2005. ISBN 1842777262. OCLC 60590190.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^ Porter, Elizabeth (2006). "Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation" (PDF). Dissent Magazine. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  32. ^ Wilson, Shamillah., Sengupta, Anasuya., Evans, Kristy., Association for Women's Rights in Development. London: Zed Books. 2005. ISBN 1842777262. OCLC 60590190.

External links[edit]