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Global anthropologist, legal scholar to lead Buffett Institute for Global Studies

Annelise Riles 'will be a leading voice for Northwestern on issues with global implications'

Annelise Riles, a professor at Cornell University and a leading global anthropologist and legal scholar, has been named executive director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, effective Sept. 1.

Riles, who was a law professor at Northwestern from 1997-2002, also will return to Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as a tenured professor. In addition, Riles will become associate provost for global affairs at Northwestern — reporting directly to Provost Jonathan Holloway — and she will hold a courtesy appointment in the Department of Anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.  

Global strategic aspirations

Riles is founder of a multilingual and transnational platform for international policy innovation. The Buffett Institute is a catalyst for achieving Northwestern’s global strategic aspirations.

Annelise Riles
Annelise Riles

In partnership with the University’s schools, institutes and centers, as well as regional and global partners, she will continue to expand Northwestern’s engagement with the world — advancing critical thinking on global issues, promoting dialogue on international affairs and issues of global significance and helping to prepare community-engaged global citizens.

“With this appointment, Northwestern will advance our leadership on global issues and further develop our strategy to make an even greater impact in the world,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro. “Professor Riles will be a leading voice for Northwestern on issues with global implications, and she will expand Northwestern’s international networks.”

A faculty-led search committee chaired by David Figlio, dean of the School of Education and Social Policy, with input from the Northwestern community, identified Riles as the ideal person to launch the next chapter of the Buffett Institute. Through the Institute, Riles will work to enhance Northwestern’s reputation for cutting-edge, interdisciplinary programs and research on globally relevant topics while simultaneously offering outstanding training and experiences for undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral fellows.

As associate provost for global affairs, Riles will oversee a portfolio that informs and advances our global academic agenda.

Related: Learn more about Northwestern’s global outreach

“Professor Riles will be my partner in designing the next iteration of Northwestern’s global strategic vision, and I am looking forward to working together to advance the University’s priorities in this critical arena,” said Holloway. “She is an experienced leader and has demonstrated a passion for the mission of the Institute and our University. We welcome her and are excited for her to get started.”

Opportunity for innovation

Riles said she believes the Buffett Institute represents a unique opportunity for innovation. From fieldwork in Fiji and at the United Nations to the financial markets of Japan and Europe, her academic career tells the story of her abiding interest in international issues and the collaboration that is fundamental to their understanding.

“As a scholar, my career has been defined by a deep commitment to interdisciplinarity,” Riles said. “I will devote my skills, energy and vision to ensure that Northwestern University continues to surpass its tradition of excellence in international studies. Together, we will continue to elevate the Buffett Institute’s international profile and deepen Northwestern’s international engagements.”

"Professor Riles will be my partner in designing the next iteration of Northwestern’s global strategic vision," - Provost Jonathan Holloway

Leading dynamic teams is fundamental to the path forward, as evidenced by Riles’ previous work. As the founder and director of the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture at the Cornell Law School and the founder and director of Meridian 180 — the latter with bases at Cornell University; the University of Tokyo; Ewha Womans University Seoul; Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan; Keio University, Tokyo and the University of New South Wales — Riles has led a remarkable group of visionary scholars, practitioners and policy-makers committed to addressing the world’s greatest policy challenges through radical collaboration.

Riles succeeds Bruce Carruthers, director of the Buffett Institute for the past four years, who will step down this summer to take a leave.

She will move to Evanston this summer with her husband Hirokazu Miyazaki, a professor of international studies and anthropology at Cornell University. Miyazaki will join Northwestern this fall as well, having been appointed to the Kay Davis Professorship in the Department of Anthropology. Riles and Miyazaki will be joined by their son, Xavier, who is in junior high school.

Riles received an AB from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, a MSc in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics, a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD in Social Anthropology from University of Cambridge.

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