My name is Magnus Ryner. I am Professor of International Political Economy at King’s College London. I am also Director of the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS DTP) – a Partnership between King’s, Imperial College and Queen Mary, University of London, funded by the British Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC). Over the last couple of decades, my work has focused on the European Union and the transformation of global capitalism, although I am becoming increasingly interested in longer-term historical trends in state-formation and the interface between international political economy and comparative historical sociology.
I returned to London in the summer of 2021 after a brilliant year at HCAS. After having been Head of Department for 3 ½ years, HCAS gave me the intellectual freedom and tranquility I needed to gain momentum on my current research project. HCAS and Helsinki also proved stimulating in the framing of my next research project on long-term historical trends in state formation. The friendly yet intellectually engaging ‘safe space’ that the Collegium provided in testing out new ideas was invaluable in that regard, especially with scholars in other fields that one would not usually encounter in the ‘day job’. I was also able to strengthen and develop connections with colleagues at the University of Helsinki as well as developing new ones.
I would also like to underline that I and my family very much enjoyed life in Helsinki. It is a beautiful and liveable city that blends elegant modernism with closeness to nature and the sea, and with absolutely first rate and accessible public amenities.
After HCAS, I went on to being a tenured research scholar at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin, where I am currently (until 2025) PI of the ERC Consolidator Grant project Archipelagic Imperatives: Lifesaving and Shipwreck in European Societies since 1800, which was conceived during my time in Helsinki.
By discipline, I am a historian with research interests in historiography, the history of Orientalism and philology, and, more recently, the history of humanitarianism and lifesaving, especially at sea. My most recent book publications are Orientalism, Philology, and the Illegibility of the Modern World (London 2020), and Seuchenjahr (Berlin 2021).
I was a Core Fellow at HCAS for three years, 2016-19, one of the longer stops on a trajectory that I tend to describe as that of an academic pinball. To me, HCAS was an exceptional place. My time there was extremely productive – also exceedingly stressful – but always balanced by a sense of community that I have not encountered in academic institutions terribly often. I trust, and I keep my fingers crossed, that it is, and will remain, the same for many others.