Gavin Fridell

Faculty of Arts
Global Development Studies

University Research Professor in Global Development Studies

Office: MS417
Phone: 902-420-5767
Pronoun preference: He/Him/His

My research interests focus on trade and trade justice through the lens of international political economy, critical development studies, and psychoanalytic theory. I have published books and articles on fair trade and free trade, the global coffee industry, alternative trade, global value chains, and global labour studies, based on research in Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and Canada.

My research focuses on fair trade and free trade, global political economy, and social and psychoanalytic theory. I’ve published books and articles on these themes based on research in Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and Canada, including co-authoring, with Ilan Kapoor, Rethinking Development Politics (Edward Elgar Press, 2024) and, with Ilan Kapoor, Maureen Sioh, and Pieter de Vries, Global Libidinal Economy (SUNY Press 2023), authoring Coffee (Polity Press 2014) and co-editing, with Zack Gross and Sean McHugh, The Fair Trade Handbook: Building a Better World, Together (Fernwood Press 2021). I have worked on several collaborative initiatives with academics, trade justice groups, nongovernmental organizations, and policy networks, including the Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) and the Trade and Investment Research Project (TIRP) at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).



Gavin Fridell

My research agenda is focused on political economy approaches to global trade centered on the importance of power and ideology.  To this end, I have investigated the inequalities in global supply chains (in particular for coffee and bananas), the highly political and uneven nature of the global trade and investment regime, alternative models for promoting trade and development (including fair trade certification, international commodity agreements, and sustainable or socially responsible trade policies around labour, gender, Indigenous, and human rights). Most recently, I have sought to recast trade and trade policy in a manner that pays equal attention to trade’s material impacts as it does its role as a “fantasy” that meets or sooths our unconscious desires and anxieties. Defenders and, to a large extent, critics of existing trade policies often insist they are ultimately driven by rational economic, political or strategic logics. 

My work, in contrast, suggests that non-rational beliefs are equally motivating factors driving our obsession with trade and its promises of enjoyment through development, efficiency, fulfillment and harmony. Through the SSHRC-funded project, “Sustainable Trade, Between Token and Substantive Change,” I am exploring these themes, combining political economy with psychoanalytic theory, and investigating a range of trade agreements with a focus on North America, the Caribbean, the EU and the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

I am interested in a wide range of topics around the political economy of trade and trade agreements; fair trade and global labour rights; psychoanalytic theory; global political economy; global value chains; the political economy of coffee and commodities; and critical development thinking. For supervision, I am interested in those researching trade and trade agreements with a focus on social power, political economy, ideological politics, and trade justice.

Ph.D. (2005) - Political Science - York University, Toronto

M.A. (1998) - World History - University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

B.Env. Design (1996) - Faculty of Architecture - University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

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