March 23, 2017
by lal252


I have a new article appearing in this April’s special issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. The article is entitled, “Outputs: The Promises and Perils of Ethnographic Engagement After the Loss of Faith in Transnational Dialogue.” An online version of the article has been released and is available here. Please see the article abstract below.


This essay investigates one important artefact of meeting knowledge production: outputs. It does so through the example of the activities of the members of Meridian 180, a community of Pacific Rim intellectuals collaborating on transnational legal and policy issues. For the members, the particular kind of knowledge production facilitated by Meridian 180 constitutes a response to the failures of international bureaucracy to generate and sustain a fabric of global relationality. The group’s various attempts to address the imperative for ‘output’ illuminate both aspects of the meeting as an organizational form, and the challenges and opportunities meetings present for ethnography. The wider underlying theme of the essay concerns the ethical purposes and promises of ethnographic styles of engagement after the loss of faith in transnational dialogue.

March 5, 2017
by lal252

Beyond Inflation Targeting and Too-Big-to-Fail: The New Political Challenges of Financial Governance.

On May 22, 2017, Meridian 180 will be convening a conference in Brussels, Belgium. The theme of the conference is “Beyond Inflation Targeting and Too-Big-to-Fail: The New Political Challenges of Financial Governance.”  The conference explores the idea that financial governance has become highly politicized and that approaching financial governance as a purely technical question is no longer sufficient. Regulators and market participants need to approach financial governance as a political question in order to successfully interpret, navigate, and manage financial markets. This conference will explore the heightened challenges faced by central bank­ers, financial regulators, market participants and other stakeholders in an increasingly complex, fast-moving, and politically fragmented global environment. Keynote addresses will be given by Gillian Tett, Managing Editor of the Financial Times and Sayuri Shirai, former member of the Policy Board, Bank of Japan.

For a copy of the conference announcement please click here.

For more information, please contact

April 6, 2016
by Administrator

Refracted Time

I recently delivered the keynote address at the 2015 Australian Anthropological Society conference. My address, “Refracted Time: From Historicity to Legal Technique in the ‘Comfort Women’ Controversy,” discusses how the controversy can be viewed as an artifact of a legal project of history-making. The video of the the address is below and also available here.


Refracted Time: From historicity to legal technique in the “Comfort Women” controversy – Professor Annelise Riles from Arts Unimelb on Vimeo.

December 16, 2015
1 Comment

Big Data in a Global World

I recently spoke on Australian, Canadian and Irish public radio about the politics of Big Data, how it is regulated transnationally, and also what it means for the politics of expertise, along with Sheila Jasanoff and Christian Sandvig.  The radio program is here.

November 13, 2015

The Politics of Big Data

A3 poster for the public forum[3]

I am very excited to be participating in an exciting conversation that public intellectual Fleur Johns is organizing at the University of New South Wales on the politics of big data.

If you are in Sydney, please join us! Information is here.

Here are some points I hope to bring to this discussion:

-The turn to big data reflects in part a crisis in expertise: government officials, business executives and even consumers and citizens have lost confidence in their own ability to choose, to plan, to predict the future or interpret the past. Big data steps in not simply to answer questions but to define the questions of our time. If a financial regulator fears that she does not know where the next crisis is coming from, real time data trolling might offer a reassuring hope that the key patterns, questions and proposals will emerge from the data itself.  If a student is not sure what college to attend, he may it reassuring to rely on the wisdom of the crowd as to which college is “hot” in any particular year. As such the big data phenomenon has larger consequences as a modality of governance given that individual sovereignty and the power to choose have been touchstone principles of liberal democracies and market economies.  These larger consequences are quite apart from the political questions surrounding privacy and surveillance that have dominated public discussions of big data.
-Intellectuals and citizens need a response to this new political phenomenon that goes beyond critique.  First, critique is always after the fact, behind the news cycle. By the time we learn of possible problems with data collection activities of private and public actors the activity has long moved on to other areas.  But more importantly, the devices and practices surrounding data collection are here to stay, and are transforming what it means to be a citizen, and indeed to be a person, in profound ways, with consequences that go beyond what any of us can fully understand or imagine at this moment.  What we need to do first is to take stock of these larger transformations (I understand this to be a goal of the conference).  Second, we need to learn from the big data movement in one respect—to recognize that the “genius” of our time is a collective genius, not an individual one—and hence that ours is a moment in which we need to create structures, platforms, experiences, collectivities that together can think the as yet unthinkable. In other words the ambition behind big data is not altogether to be rejected.  The question is how else we might achieve that ambition.



September 26, 2015

Pope Francis as a global public intellectual

Meridian 180, the global think tank I direct, has been holding a transnational and translingual debate about Pope Francis’ ideas about the economy, technology and the environment. My op-ed today at National Public Radio’s website explains why the pontiff is worthy of serious intellectual consideration, regardless of one’s ethical or religious background.

March 16, 2015

Livestreaming The Visual and Performative Ethnography Symposium—University of Pennsylvania

On Friday, March 20th, I will participate in the panel “Institutionalization and Interdisciplinarity: Where do we Locate the Visual and the Performative within the Academy?” for the Visual and Performative Ethnography Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania. The panel event will take place from 1:00-2:30PM on 3/20 and will be streamed live via the HowlRound TV Network. Further information about this symposium is available here.

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