Bharath was a Bonnart Trust scholar from 2012 to 2015 in the UCL Department of Geography, exploring race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in hip-hop culture. His thesis was titled ‘The politics of the cipher’ and draws on the intellectual tradition of African-diasporic literary theory and the tools of critical phenomenology, to demonstrates that hip-hop culture encourages a form of multiculturalism based on intercultural exchange and sharing that goes beyond tolerance.
The project makes a number of contributions to the fields of political geography, hip-hop studies, and the politics of difference.
Its employment of theories of affect and embodiment helps illuminate the role that popular music plays in the mediation of racial and ethnic difference, adding theoretical resources on identity and alterity to debates in political geography. It is the first study to use these theoretical frames to understand the cipher, a term whose history can be traced through African-American and Black Atlantic religion and literature in the twentieth century.
During the PhD, Bharath was involved in developing research impact by engaging with various student organisations at the University of California, Berkeley where he organised workshops in order to incorporate the student community into the research project. In addition, Bharath has worked as a researcher for various NGOs working to counter Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime, most recently as Research & Digital Projects Officer for Tell MAMA. He has authored numerous reports on hate crime and extremism and served as an expert witness on these issues in the Houses of Parliament.
Bharath completed a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and an MSc in Globalisation at University College London, where he received funding from the Bonnart Trust to continue as a PhD candidate.