School of Politics and International Relations

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Dr Sofa Gradin, BA (UWE Bristol), MSc (University of Bristol), PhD (QMUL)



Telephone: 020 7882 8590
Room Number: Arts One, Room 2.27A


Office Hours: Monday 11am-12pm and Fridays 4-5pm
Both in room 2.30 (Jeff Webber’s office).

Sofa has recently finished a PhD at Queen Mary, researching alternatives to capitalist trade and their role in international development. Sofa grew up in Sweden but moved to the UK to study, winning prizes for highest academic achievement both from Bristol University (MSc Intl Development) and Bristol UWE (BA Intl Relations). Sofa has researched for Oxfam and other NGOs as well as for academic research projects.

Research interests include prefigurative politics, limits and alternatives to capitalism, power, and ‘development’. Aiming to bridge gaps between academia and civil society, Sofa has been an active organiser in feminist, environmental and alterglobalisation movements for over a decade. Creating platforms for dialogue across these spheres has included organising conferences (e.g. Power and Resistance 2014), workshops, debates and publications. Sofa received funding from the ESRC in 2013 to produce, write and present the radio documentary series Wurld Powur, which featured activists and academics discussing some of the world’s most pressing problems and their solutions.

As a lauded public speaker and lecturer, Sofa gave a TEDx talk in 2015 on the political ideals underlying capitalist economic theory. Before joining Queen Mary as a PhD student in 2011, Sofa worked as a songwriting teacher alongside researching international politics. Sofa also has a long past as a performer, singer-songwriter, poet and bicycle dancer.


Research Interests:

International Political Economy, International Development, Decolonial/Postcolonial Theory, Prefigurative Politics, Gender and Intersectionality

Examples of research funding:

ESRC Doctoral Training Centre full PhD scholarship (2011-2013)


Gradin, S. (2016) 'Rethinking the Notion of ‘Value’ in Global Value Chains Analysis: A Decolonial Political Economy Perspective', Competition and Change, doi:10.1177/1024529416657490

Gradin, S. (2014) 'Radical Routes and Alternative Avenues: How Cooperatives Can Be Non-capitalist', Review of Radical Political Economics, 47:2, pp. 141-158.

Gradin, S., Lock, M. and Toplišek, A. (eds) (2014) Power and Resistance (Conference Proceedings) [online] Available from Power and Resistance.

Gradin, S. (2011) ‘Importing to the Core with Respect for the Poor: A Not-For-Profit Co-Operative Model for Breaking the Global Division of Labour’, University of Bristol SPAIS Working Paper No. 5, 2011.

Public Engagement

Media appearances

TEDx QMUL 2015: How to Abandon Capitalism
Wurld Powur radio series
BBC Radio Bristol
Sveriges Radio P3 Sweden

NGO work

Oxfam (2009), Labour Behind the Label (2011), Remix (2004-2011), The Basement Studio (2008-2011)

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