Janine R. Wedel, a Distinguished University Professor in the School of Policy, Government, & International Affairs at George Mason University, writes about issues of governing, corruption, foreign aid, and influence elites through the lens of a social anthropologist. She is a winner of the 2001 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order (previous holders include Mikhail Gorbachev and Samuel Huntington). Wedel's new book Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt Our Finances, Freedom, and Security exposes new forms of corruption (Pegasus, October 15, 2014). She also directs the Mapping Shadow Influence project, which displays in multidimensional detail how today's top power brokers hold sway, capturing the very building blocks of influence.
Wedel is a pioneer in applying anthropological insights to topics dominated by political science and economics. Choice writes that "as a thinker she is in the same league as John Kenneth Galbraith and Charles Lindblom." Her books—widely and favorably reviewed—include the award-winning Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market (Basic Books, 2009) and Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe (Palgrave 2001). Shadow Elite was book of the month for The Huffington Post and received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Collision and Collusion, winner of the Grawemeyer Award, was named "impressive and informative" by Foreign Affairs and "a key text in the critics' armory" by The New York Times Magazine. American Ethnologist called it "a tribute to the high caliber of Wedel's journalistic and anthropological abilities alike." Wedel's first book, The Private Poland (1986) was likened by the Christian Science Monitor to Hedrick Smith's The Russians and called "a brilliant account of contemporary Polish society" by Osteuropa Wirtschaft. Wedel has also published the coauthored Confronting Corruption, Building Accountability (2010) and The Unplanned Society: Poland During and After Communism (edited, translated, annotated and introductions, 1992), which the anthropology journal Man called a "pioneering work."
A public intellectual, Wedel has contributed congressional testimony and analysis pieces to more than a dozen major outlets, including the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal Europe, Washington Post, Washington Times, National Interest, Nation, Politico, Salon, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and Christian Science Monitor. She is a featured columnist in The Huffington Post. She has spoken before audiences at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, MIT, Chicago, Berkeley, Oxford, Central European University (Budapest), Institute of Social Studies (the Hague), United Nations University (Helsinki), Freie Universitšt (Berlin), TEDx (Berlin), Bruno Kreisky Institute (Vienna), European Journalism Observatory (Lugano), New America Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, National Press Club, and National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, among others. Her television and radio appearances include MSNBC, CNN, PBS's Frontline, C-Span, Al-Jazeera, Russia Today, BBC, and NPR.
A four-time Fulbright fellow, Wedel has received awards from the National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Social Science Research Council, German Marshall Fund, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Ford Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, New America Foundation, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking, among others. Her work has been favorably reviewed and quoted in the New York Review of Books, Economist, New York Times, Newsweek, Financial Times, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Investor's Business Daily, New Republic, Foreign Affairs, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Publishers Weekly, among many others. It has been reviewed or translated into Chinese, Spanish, Russian, French, German, Polish, Serbian, Hungarian, Danish, and Japanese.
Wedel is co–founder and president of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP), a section affiliated with the American Anthropological Association.