Legrand Ramsey Professor of Anthropology; Cofounder, Rift Valley Institute
Academic Program Affiliation(s): Africana Studies, Anthropology, Human Rights
Biography:John Ryle is a writer and researcher specializing in Eastern and Central Africa. He is cofounder of the Rift Valley Institute, a research and public information organization operating in Eastern and Central Africa; he was executive director of the Institute until 2017. He has worked as a long-term social researcher in the Sudans and Brazil, as a regional analyst for aid and human rights organizations in Africa and the Middle East, and as a writer, editor, filmmaker, and broadcaster worldwide. He is the author of Warriors of the White Nile (1984), an account of the Dinka of South Sudan; coauthor of The Sudan Handbook (2011); and contributor to publications including the New York Review of Books, Guardian (weekly columnist, 1995–99), Times Literary Supplement, Condé Nast Traveler, and Granta, where he was a contributing editor.
His website, johnryle.com, is a live repository of research, activism, journalism, and critical writing from 1985 to date, with reportage from Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and accounts of anthropological and human rights research in the Sudans and Brazil. The site includes information about books and video documentaries, translations of Brazilian poems and songs, a blog—Field Notes—and the archive of a newspaper column, City of Words.
Translations: Portuguese to English translation of Caetano Veloso’s Noites do Norte (2001); other Brazilian poetry and prose.
Documentary films and radio: South Sudan: The Chiefs Speak, 2015 (director); Minefields, a three-part series, BBC World Service, 1996 (author, presenter); The Price of Survival: A Journey to the War Zone of South Sudan, 1994 (codirector); Witchcraft among the Azande, 1982 (anthropologist).
Boards and honorary appointments: Research associate, School of Oriental and African Studies, London University; board member, Media Development Investment Fund; board member, Human Rights Watch Africa Division.
Awards and fellowships: George Soros Chair, School of Public Policy, Central European University, Budapest (2018); Fellow, Cullman Center for Writers and Artists, New York Public Library (2015–16); Research Fellow, Nuffield College, Oxford University (1996–97); Bronwen Gold Blyth Award for Environmental Writing; Authors’ Foundation Open Award, UK); Social Science Research Council (UK) Postgraduate Fellow.
BA, MA, University of Oxford. At Bard since 2005.
Department: Rift Valley Institute
Location: Hegeman Science Hall
Office: Room 310