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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Siobhán McGrath

Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41535
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 229
Assistant Professor, Economy and Culture
Assistant Professor, Politics-State-Space

Contact Dr Siobhán McGrath (email at


Pronouns: She/her (or they/them)

Siobhán McGrath is a lecturer in Human Geography at Durham University. She works within labour geography as well as development geography from a broadly political economy perspective. She holds an MA in Economics from the New School for Social Research, a BA in International Studies from the School for International Training, and a PhD from the University of Manchester's Institute of Development Policy and Management. She previously worked at Lancaster University prior to joining Durham in November 2013.

Research Interests

  1. Work, labour and employment, particularly:
    • forced labour (and related concepts such as unfree labour and human trafficking)
    • degrading conditions of employment, precarious work, and unregulated work characterised by workplace violations
    • labour within Global Production Networks (GPNs)
  2. Brazil's role as a Rising Power as it relates to South-South globalisation and development.

Research Projects

Siobhán has just completed a €300,000 (£225,000) study on initiatives to address forced labour and trafficking in supply chains, part of a wider €2.5 million research project funded by the European Commission and led by The International Centre for Migration Policy Development on 'Addressing Demand in Anti-Trafficking: Efforts and Policies'. A series of policy briefs has been produced from this research, proposing four principles for addressing trafficking, forced labour and slavery in supply chains.

Her doctoral work analysed the labour dynamics of production networks in two cases of 'slave labour' in Brazil. Prior to this, she was involved in research on 'unregulated work' in New York City - that is, jobs characterised by violations of (or exclusion from) labour and employment laws.

Prospective PhD Students

Siobhán welcomes prospective PhD students interested in labour geography and development geography, particularly in:

  • unfreedom in labour relations
  • precarious and degrading work
  • labour and Global Production Networks
  • labour in the Global South
  • South-South globalisation and development


Siobhán serves on the International Advisory Board of the journal Antipode and the Associate Board of the journal Work, Employment and Society.

She has also peer reviewed articles for the following journals: Environment and Planning A, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Geoforum, Urban Studies, Economy and Society, Oxford Development Studies, Anti-Trafficking Review, Urban Affairs Review, Human Geography and Brasiliana.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • McGrath, Siobhán & Fabiola Mieres (Published). Trabalho Escravo Contemporâneo: um negócio lucrativo e global (Contemporary Slave Labour: a profitable global business). In Escravidão Contemporânea (Contemporary Slavery). Sakamoto, Leonardo Editora Contexto. 129-150.
  • McGrath, Siobhan (2016). Unfree Labour. In International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. Castree, N., Goodchild, M., Kobayashi, A., Liu, W., Marston, D. & Richardson, D. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Carstensen, L. & McGrath, S. (2015). National Pact to Eradicate Slave Labour in Brazil: A useful tool for unions? In Struggle in a Time of Crisis. Pons-Vignon, Nicolas & Nkosi, Mbuso Pluto Books.
  • McGrath, Siobhán & Strauss, Kendra (2015). Unfreedom and Workers’ Power: Ever-present Possibilities. In The International Political Economy of Production. van der Pijl, Kees Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 299-317.

Journal Article


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