Indian sociologist and anthropologist Shalini Randeria has taken charge as the president and rector of the Central European University, Vienna, making her perhaps one of the only Indians to head a major university outside the country. She was elected to the position in June 2021 and her term was inaugurated on Monday (November 8).
Before taking on this position, Randeria has been teaching at a number of universities across Europe, including the Graduate Institute, Geneva, the University of Munich and the University of Zurich. She was also the founding chair of CEU’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, and is a former rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.
Randeria, who completed a PhD from the Free University, Berlin in 1992, focuses on the transnationalisation of law, legal pluralism, globalisation and development, gender, social movements, post-coloniality and environmental justice in her work. Her most recent edited volumes – Kapitalismus im 21 and Beyond Western Hegemony (with Björn Wittrock) – are both currently in print.
Randeria has authored and edited a large number of books and journal articles, published in both English and German. Her authored books include Boundless (Dis)Order – Mobility and Borders in Transition (with Wolfgang Kaschuba) and Recht, Kultur und Gesellschaft im Prozess der Globalisierung (with Klaus Günther).
“She has led research projects with a comparative perspective on (i) the effects of international investment agreements and arbitration on governance in Argentina, Czech Republic, Mexico, India; (ii) counter-hegemonic globalisation in India, Columbia, Portugal, Mozambique; (iii) the (un)sustainability of changing patterns of food consumption and waste management among middle classes in south and south-east Asia; and most recently (iv) the puzzle of unspent public funds in Italy and India,” CEU’s biography on its new president states.
She is the sixth president and rector of CEU, and succeeds the Canadian academic Michael Ignatieff. The CEU was set up in Budapest by the financier-philanthropist George Soros in 1991 but moved to Vienna in 2018 after the Viktor Orban regime in Hungary made it impossible for it to function in the country.
In addition to her teaching, research and institution-building work, Randeria also a runs a podcast called Democracy in Question, which is now in its third season. “In a wide-ranging exploration of the diversity of experiences of democracy and the challenges and dilemmas facing liberal democracies around the world today, each episode features Professor Randeria in conversation with a leading scholar. Together they address what needs to be done to ensure the future well-being of our democratic institutions and practices,” CEU says about her podcast.
“I am honoured to serve as President and Rector of CEU at a time when the University’s work is more important than ever,” Randeria said on her appointment. “The academic cornerstone of an open society, CEU generates knowledge and engagement around democracy, social justice, and equity, across all areas of local and global concerns.”
“…The challenges facing your generation of students are real. So too are the opportunities before you to directly address the need for equity, for sustainability, for justice. At CEU you are part of a diverse community; common all our students is an extraordinary drive to make the world a better place,” she continued.
This article was first published by ‘The Wire’.