Date:    December 16, 2015

From:   Stephen J. Toope, Director, Munk School of Global Affairs

Re:      Appointment of Professor Ritu Birla as Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Ritu Birla as Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute for a three-year term, from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018.  The appointment is eligible for renewal.

Ritu has been active at the Asian Institute since its inception and since her arrival at the University in the Department of History, St. George.  She has been a key voice in the Institute’s evolution over the past several years. The thematic focus of the Institute, its creative teaching programs, and its interdisciplinary conversations reflect, in significant measure, Ritu’s enthusiasm and intellectual leadership.

Most recently, Ritu has been serving as the Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies.  In this role, she has raised the Centre’s profile through innovative and cross-regional programming and the curation of high-profile events and speakers.  She is well known for her strong administrative experience, ability to get things done, passion, drive, global network, and extensive research profile. The Asian Institute requires someone who can attend to the policy conversations while not forgetting that the Institute holds a rare place at the University where humanities specialists inform social science and vice-versa.  Ritu is exceptionally well equipped to fill this role.

Ritu received a B.A. from Columbia (Summa Cum Laude); a second BA and MA from Cambridge (on a Euretta J. Kellett Fellowship); and an M.Phil and Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is recognized for bringing the empirical study of Indian economy to current questions of social and political theory and her research has sought to build new conversations in the global study of capitalism and its forms of governing. Among her many publications is Stages of Capital: Law, Culture and Market Governance in Late Colonial India, which won the 2010 Albion Book Prize. She has co-edited special issues of Public Culture (23:2) on Gandhian thought and its global itineraries, and just out, a project on speculation, futures and capitalism in India in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and Middle East (35:3); both are products of international collaborations. She is working on new book, Neoliberalism and Empire, solicited by Duke for its new series Transactions: Economy, Finance and Theory, a project which has been recognized with a  Chancellor Jackman 6-Month Research Fellowship from the Jackman Humanities Institute.  The project reflects her continuing commitment to rigorous research across the humanities and social sciences on contemporary global processes and their genealogies.

Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Ritu to her new leadership role within the Munk School.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the members of the Advisory Committee for their dedication and hard work, and especially to Professor Joe Wong for stepping in as Acting Director these past 6 months.

Stephen J. Toope
Director, Munk School of Global Affairs