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Grace Mueller

PhD student, Queens’ College

Theorising Back the Market for Labour: A Co-Produced Socio-Spatial Analysis from Nepal

I am an economic geographer studying local labour markets from the perspective of young women in Nepal. My PhD research explores the market for domestic work in Hetauda, analysing the practices, values and logics which shape domestic work both as a capitalist and non-capitalist type of employment. This research responds to youth employment and gender equality global development goals, asking how place-based institutions influence how the labour market ecosystem ‘works’ for young women in practice.

This research follows a feminist epistemology and aims to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of qualitative methods with more vulnerable and less-research demographics. I also explore the relationship between researchers with translators or interpreters in the field, asking how the involvement of an interpreter in the research process influences participants’ experience, meaning-making, the distribution of power and control, and research inclusivity. My work also involves creative methodologies, such as a forthcoming short film titled ‘Didi to didi’, selected to be part of the 2023 Cambridge Creative Encounters Programme.

Research implications include spatial and temporal theorizations of female labour agency, the myth of ‘unskilled labour’ as an active labour market intermediary, the impact of values on ‘rational’ labour market decision making, ss well as recommendations for labour market intervention and equitable knowledge production.



  • 2023: Research Contractor, International Labour Organization, Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) branch
  • 2020-2021: Senior Research Analyst, Restless Development, Asian Development Bank and Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • 2021: Research Manager, Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts
  • 2020: AmeriCorps Fellow, Mayors Caucus Chicago
  • 2019: Research Associate, E-SheBee and University of Edinburgh, Bangladesh


  • 2018-2019: MSc International Development, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh (Cum Laude)
  • 2012-2016: BSc Communication Studies, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin (Cum Laude)
  • 2012-2016: Bridging Discipline Programme, Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits, University of Texas at Austin


  • Queens’ College Travel Award, Cambridge, Scoping Research in Nepal (2022)
  • ESRC DTP Studentship (2021-present)
  • Cambridge Trust Scholar (2021-present)
  • Stamps Strive Foundation Scholar, Queens’ College (2021-present)
  • Rotary International Global Grant Scholar (2020-present)
  • Dissertation Award of Distinction, University of Edinburgh (2019)
  • Dean’s List for Academic Excellence, University of Texas at Austin (2012-2015)
  • Fred and Mary Koch Foundation Scholarship Awardee (2015)



  • Mueller, G., Barford, A., Osborne, H., Pradhan, K., Proefke, R., Shrestha, S. and Pratiwi, A.M. (2023). ‘Disaster diaries: Qualitative research at a distance.’ International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 22.

In progress

  • Mueller, G. and Baniya, A. (2023). ‘Caring through translation: a dialogue on ethics and inclusivity in cross-language research’ – Submitted to the International Journal of Qualitative Methods special issue: Accessibility and Inclusion: Advancing the Use of Qualitative Research Methods for All (August 2023)
  • Barford, A., McCarthy, G., Mueller, G., Osborne, H., Pratiwi, A., Pradhan, K., Shrestha, S. (In progress): Life-courses interrupted: youth livelihoods and the limits of resilience. Submitted: Journal of Youth Studies.
  • Mueller, G., Huang, J.Q., Chisholm, P., Bassett, J., Geary, H. (2023). Entrepreneurship as struggle: Confronting enduring cries in Bangladesh. (In progress)

Conference presentations

  • 2022: Co-Convenor, ReWorking Work: Labour and Livelihoods in the Global South, Philomathia Social Sciences Research Symposium, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
  • 2022: Research Presenter and Panelist, Re-searching Purpose and Vocation Series, Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change
  • 2021: Keynote Speaker, Youth in a Time of Crisis: Livelihood Diaries from Nepal and Indonesia During COVID-19, Asian Development Bank
  • 2021: Panelist, Asia and the Pacific Youth Symposium: Knowledge Session on Youth Economic Empowerment, Asian Development Bank
  • 2021: Presenter, Special Session: SMEs/Family Businesses and Regional Development, 13th World Congress of Regional Science Association International


  • Undergraduate Supervision, Part II Geographies of Work and Employment (Michaelmas Term 2023)
  • Undergraduate Supervision, Part II Dissertation Supervisions (Easter Term 2023)
  • Undergraduate Supervision, Part IB Development Theory and Practice (revision supervisions – Easter Term 2022)

External activities

  • Youth and Work Reading Group, Co-Coordinator
  • Decent Work and Youth Livelihoods Research Group, Member
  • Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism, Member
  • Global Shapers Cambridge, World Economic Forum, Member
  • Queens’ College Wine Society, Treasurer