The Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad was granted a Regional Hub to host the 71st Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference. The ICA Hyderabad Hub was a curated series of two-hour virtual sessions from the ICA Conference with live discussions facilitated by the Department. The series was held from 28th May to 1st June 2021 virtually with an audience of registered participants and attendees of the Hyderabad Hub.

The Hub opened on 28th May with the ICA Theme Panel, ‘Autoethnographies of Care: Foregrounding the Experiences of Early Career Researchers’ chaired by Devina Sarwatay, a Senior Research Fellow and Doctoral Student at the Department with Dr. Sarah Burton, City University of London as the discussant. The Panellists included Dr Aditya Deshbandhu, IIM-Indore; Mrs. Archana Kumari, Central University of Jammu; Dr Sasi Kiran Reddy Mallam, FLAME University; Ms Sneha Samaddar, Symbiosis International; Dr Taijrani Rampersaud, University of Guyana; and Ms Sarwatay presented their academic journeys and reflected on how care can be woven into the institutional setup.

Day 2 of the Hub was a panel on ‘Children and Media Around the World in a Pandemic: Diversity and Equity Challenges’ chaired by Prof. Dafna Lemish, Rutgers University with Dr Maya Götz, International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television as the discussant. This panel was based on an international survey on the role that media played in the lives of 4,200 children ages 9-13 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 across 42 countries, as well as several smaller and more focused studies.

The third day of the Hub opened with a Joint Regional Hub Event which was a collaboration between the Department and the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Massey University. The panel, ‘Communicating Mediatized and Politicized COVID-19 Responses and Their Impact on Race and Ethnicity’, chaired by Prof. Sudeshna Roy, Stephen F. Austin State University was featured with Prof. Mohan J. Dutta, Massey University, Dr Jason Cabanes, De La Salle University, and Prof. Usha Raman as discussants.

The third panel, ‘Women Keep Society Going in Times of Crisis: But Who’s Talking About it? Analyzing Global Discourses on Inequalities in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ was chaired by Prof. Margreth Lünenborg, Freie University with live discussion led by Dr Sumana Kasturi and Prof. Usha Raman from the Department. The panel focussed on how public discourse about gendered and intersectional inequalities emerges and is contested in a hybrid media system.

‘Can the Digital Do Justice? Care, Connectedness and Access in Indian Digital Public Spheres’ was the panel up for discussion with Prof. TT Sreekumar, The English & Foreign Languages University and Dr Pallavi Guha, Towson University as discussants on the 4th day of the Hub. This panel, chaired by Dr Maya Dodd, FLAME University, was also attended by panellists, Dr Madhurima Das, BITS Pilani and Dr Dibyaduti Roy, IIT Jodhpur along with the live discussants which made for an engaging Q&A session.

The Hub closed the virtual series with the panel ‘What’s Old is New Again: Media Practices in Radio, News and Social Media’ chaired by Dr Hanan Badr, Gulf University for Science and Technology. This panel featured a presentation by Prof. Kanchan K. Malik from the Department and she was also our live discussant for the day. Her presentation on ‘Strengthening Gender-Sensitivity in Content and Policies of Community Radio Stations in India’ led to an engrossing discussion and Q&A session.

The day ended with Prof. Usha Raman’s acknowledgement of the realities within which this Hub was organised, with feedback from the participants and attendees, followed by a vote of thanks by Prof. Raman. The local organising committee was led by Prof. Raman with doctoral students, Devina Sarwatay, Chinar Mehta, and Manisha Madapathi with assistance from Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Prof. Kanchan K. Malik, Dr Aditya Deshbandhu, and Mr. Pranay Rupani.