Prof Rapley is currently on sabbatical at JIAS from February until the end of May 2019. John Rapley has made a vocation of working, and living, at the frontier where theory meets practice. After beginning his career at Oxford University’s International Development Centre, he left for the developing world, where he spent the next two decades working as an academic, journalist and ultimately the co-creator and director of a policy think tank. Along the way, he has done fellowships and visiting professorships at universities on three continents and, upon returning to the UK, lectured at the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Development Studies. He now makes his home at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. The author of four books, dozens of scholarly articles, and over 1,000 newspaper and magazine features, he will work on two projects during his visiting fellowship at JIAS.


With Peter Heather, he is co-authoring The Lives of Empires (Penguin, 2020), which compares the history of the Roman Empire and the contemporary Western world to present a theory of imperial life-cycles. In tandem with this, he is writing a collection of short stories profiling the lives of ordinary people while they navigate this era of profound change, as the Western-dominated global order gives way to an emergent and as yet undefined one.

John Rapley