Rachel Beatty Riedl



Rachel Beatty Riedl is the Peggy J. Koenig ’78 Director of the Center on Global Democracy in the Brooks School of Public Policy, and a Professor in the Brooks School and Department of Government at Cornell University. 

Her research expertise is on democracy and authoritarianism globally, and particularly across Africa.  She focuses on questions of participation, institutions, political parties, and local governance. She recently led the USAID’s Democracy, Rights and Governance learning agenda “Opening Democratic Spaces” research report.  Riedl is also a member of the Open Society University Network’s Forum on Democracy and Development. Riedl is the author of the award-winning Authoritarian Origins of Democratic Party Systems in Africa and co-author of From Pews to Politics: Religious Sermons and Political Participation in Africa.  

She has been a visiting fellow at the Yale Program on Democracy, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. She previously served as the John S. Knight Professor and Director of the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell. She is a full member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of the Editorial Committee of World Politics, and co-editor of the Cambridge University Press Elements series Politics of Development. 

Riedl served as the President of the Scientific Committee of the Institute of Advanced Studies (France), and as Chair of the Democracy and Autocracy section of the American Political Science Association. She has conducted policy analysis for USAID, the World Bank, the State Department, the Carter Center, and other organizations on issues pertaining to governance reforms, elections, democratic representation, and identity politics.

She is co-host of the podcast Ufahamu Africa, featuring scholarly analysis about life and politics on the African continent.  PhD Princeton University.

Research Focus

  • Research Interest(s): Democracy and Autocracy, Regime Transitions; Political Party Systems and Democratic Institutions; Decentralization and Local Governance; Authoritarian Legacies; Religion and Politics
  • Program Area(s): Comparative Politics
  • Regional Specialization(s): Africa
  • Subfield Specialties: Comparative Historical Analysis; Political Parties


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