Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Chair for the History of Science

M.A. Niki Rhyner

M.A. Niki Rhyner
niki.rhyner (at)

→ Vita

→ Research interests

→ Current project

→ Selected publications






In her dissertation, Niki Rhyner investigates the history of ethnographic field research after WWII, paying particular attention to the intersection of sociocultural anthropology, economic policies, and regional planning. She is a PhD candidate at the chair for Science Studies at ETH Zurich and will spend the Fall semester 2022/23 at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she plans to consult archival material on ethnographic fieldwork projects in the GDR.

Niki Rhyner is co-founder of intercomverlag, a scholar-led publishing initiative based in Zurich, Berlin, and Vienna (read more here). Before starting her PhD project, she earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of Basel, where she studied history and philosophy, and a Master's degree in History and Philosophy of Knowledge from ETH Zurich. Niki Rhyner is affiliated with the PhD program ‘Geschichte des Wissens’ (UZH/ETH). Her work is supported by ETH Research Grant ETH- 14 20- 1.


Research interests

  • History of humanities and social sciences
  • Political history of knowledge, esp. with regards to economic development, regional planning, and infrastructures
  • History and present of scientific publishing
  • Science and activism


Current project

Village, region, and agglomeration, 1950–1995: The Europe of Applied Humanities and Social Sciences (working title)

This research project deals with the history of ethnographic field research during the process of European integration. I focus on postwar field research projects in peripheral regions which became subject to the pressures of postwar modernization – such transport, energy, and tourism infrastructures. In these places Volkskunde (literally: the study of people) developed its methods and techniques while refashioning itself as European Ethnology, Empirical Cultural Studies or Cultural Anthropology. By drawing on archival documents pertaining to research projects in Germany (both GDR and FRG), France, and Switzerland, as well as historical records about infrastructure programs, industrialization projects and regional development plans, I combine the history of knowledge with economic history. I argue that concepts of intra-European development were co-produced by sociocultural anthropology and economic policy.


Selected publications


2021. „Fremde Arbeit: Kulturelle Differenz, wirtschaftliche Entwicklung und die angewandten Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften in der Schweiz um 1960“. In:  traverse. Zeitschrift für Geschichte 28/2, 136–149.



w/ Nils Güttler / Max Stadler et al. 2020. Gegen|Wissen. cache 01. Zürich: intercom Verlag.


Edited volumes

w/ Nils Güttler / Max Stadler. (Ed.). 2018. Æther 01: Flughafen Kloten. Anatomie eines komplizierten Ortes. Zürich: intercom Verlag.



w/ Nils Güttler. 2022. „DIY Epistemologies: Histories and Futures of Publishing in the Humanities“. In: Journal of the History of Ideas Blog.