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Dr Maeve  Ryan

Dr Maeve Ryan

  • Academics

Lecturer in History and Grand Strategy

Research subject areas

  • Conflict and security

Contact details


Maeve Ryan is a Lecturer in History and Grand Strategy at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, where she co-directs the Centre for Grand Strategy. At the heart of the Centre for Grand Strategy is an 'applied history’ approach. The aim is to bring more historical and strategic expertise to statecraft, diplomacy and foreign policy. The Centre is home to a number of major research projects, including the Philip Leverhulme Prize-funded project on the origins and future of the idea of ‘world order’; The Engelsberg Programme for Applied History, Grand Strategy and Geopolitics  supported by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation; and the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme, ‘Interrogating Visions of a Post-Western World'.

Maeve has recently completed a Leverhulme Early Career research fellowship project, entitled ‘The British Empire and the Geopolitics of Human Rights in the Nineteenth Century’. This project considered how nineteenth-century British consuls promoted abolitionist and free-labour ideologies within the territories of rival powers and the informal empire, how they influenced rights discourses, contributed to a British humanitarian-imperial self-image, and impacted great-power relations. This project resulted in two books, Humanitarian Governance and the Origins of a British Antislavery World System, (forthcoming, Yale University Press), and The Subtle Consul?: The Politics of Slavery at the Peripheries of Empire (in preparation). 

Before joining King’s in 2016, Maeve was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of History at the University of Leicester. She also helped to found the University of Cambridge’s Forum on Geopolitics. She holds an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in History from Trinity College Dublin. She is currently developing a new research project on the theme of “War and Slavery”.

Research Interests

  • History of Empire
  • Grand Strategy
  • British foreign policy since 1789
  • Diplomacy
  • Slavery, emancipation and abolition
  • Humanitarianism and human rights 
  • Modern Slavery
  • War and Slavery


BA3 Conflict, Slavery and Human Trafficking (convenor)

BA2 Grand Strategy and the Foundations of Anglo-American Statecraft

MA Diplomacy & Foreign Policy (convenor)

Select Publications 

  • Humanitarian Governance and the Origins of a British Anti-Slavery World System (in preparation). 
  • ‘British antislavery diplomacy and liberated African rights as an international issue’, (chapter in edited volume; forthcoming, 2017)
  • 'Consular diplomacy, reporting and the antislavery world system: British consuls in the Americas and East Africa’, (journal article; forthcoming, 2018).
  • “A moral millstone”: British humanitarianism and the policy of liberated African apprenticeship, 1808- 1848’, (Slavery & Abolition, 2016). 

  • "A “very extensive system of peculation and jobbing”: the Liberated African Department and the fraud 
inquiry of 1848"(Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 2016).
  • “A most promising field for future usefulness”: The Church Missionary Society and the Liberated Africans of Sierra Leone’, in William Mulligan and Maurice Bric (eds.), A Global History of Anti-Slavery Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
  • "The price of legitimacy in humanitarian intervention: Britain, the European powers and the abolition of the West African slave trade, 1807-1867", in D. Trim and B. Simms (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • Series contributor, Royal Irish Academy, Dictionary of Irish Biography (Cambridge University Press and the Royal Irish Academy, 2009).
  • “The reptile that had stung me”: William Plunket and the Trial of Robert Emmet’, A. Dolan, P. Geoghegan and D. Jones (eds.), Reinterpreting Emmet: Essays on the Life and Legacy of Robert Emmet (University College Dublin Press, 2007).