Appointments to the British Academy

Friday 5 July 2002

Two University of St Andrews Professors have been elected Fellows of the British Academy.

Professor Paul Magdalino from the Mediaeval History Department and Professor Jonathan Thomas from the Economics Department are two of 35 Fellows to be elected throughout the UK.

Founded in 1902, the British Academy is the national academy for the humanities and the social sciences, the counterpart of the Royal Society which covers the natural sciences. It is an independent learned society which has responsibility by Royal Charter for promoting research and scholarship in all branches of humane and social studies, from philosophy, language, literature and history to economics, law, sociology, geography and politics.

Professor Magdalino, whose interest in the mediaeval Greek tradition was stimulated by his modern Greek connections, wrote his doctoral thesis on the regional history of Northern Greece in the later Middle Ages. Since then, his research has moved progressively into earlier periods and many other aspects of the 1000-year civilisation of the eastern Roman Empire. Several years of work on the politics, economy, society, art and literary culture of Byzantium in the age of the crusades culminated in a major monograph, ‘The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 1143-1180’ (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Parallel and subsequent to this work, his published research has followed other directions: the urban development of Constantinople, the culture of the imperial court and the role of prophecy and astrology in Byzantine culture. Professor Magdalino has also just received a two-year Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) Research Readership to work on the last of these themes. Since his appointment to St Andrews, he has held research fellowships in Germany, Australia and the US and has lectured in Paris at the Collège de France and the École Pratique des Hautes Études. He was also visiting professor at Harvard in 1995-6 and currently serves on the committee of Senior Fellows of Harvard’s Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC.

Professor Magdalino said, “I am delighted that my election makes the School of History the only one in the University with two FBAs, both in the Department of Mediaeval History.* It is also gratifying that the British Academy has chosen to elect a Byzantinist for the first time since 1981. The ranks of Byzantinists among the Fellows were recently depleted by the deaths of Sir Steven Runciman and Sir Dimitri Obolensky. Both scholars played a crucial role in my career, and the University of St Andrews has acquired the Runciman library. I therefore feel most honoured to be able to step into the breach that they have left.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Thomas is Professor of Economics and a member of CRIEFF (the Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm), a research centre located within the Department.

His principal activity is research in economic theory with main areas of research focused on game theory, contract theory, labour economics and development economics. He has been using an approach based on game theory to model the problem of how villagers in developing countries can share risks in the absence of formal insurance contracts and is currently working on the question of how the debt of highly indebted countries can be restructured and, in particular, whether some kind of international bankruptcy court is a viable idea. In game theory, he is introducing small amounts of irrationality into models of situations where otherwise all participants are assumed to be rational. Previously, his research has crossed over into other disciplines such as psychology, sociology and mathematics.

Welcoming the appointment, Professor Thomas said, “The news came out of the blue as I had no idea that my name had been put forward. I am obviously delighted.”

Professor Thomas is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Warwick, a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Center of Economic Studies (Munich) and a member of the Association of Christian Economists.

*the other FBA in the School of History is Professor Robert Bartlett, elected 1997.


Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected] Ref: britishacademy- 2002/standrews/chg/5july2002

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