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Leandra Bias

Ms Leandra Bias

Research topic:
Transnational feminism, illiberalism, comparative politics, post-communist Europe, critical theory, interpretive research methods

Academic Profile

My doctoral research is situated at the intersection between comparative politics, international relations and political theory. Based on the example of contemporary Russia and Serbia, my thesis challenges the well-established notion within critical theory that transnational feminism always entails negative power relations that lead to practices of "othering". I argue that with rising illiberalism, domestic power relations have become much more salient for feminists on the ground. Drawing from post-Marxist disourse analysis, I investigate how they reframe transnationalism in a way that goes beyond the West/East lens in order to protect their discursive practices from being hi-jacked by the anti-Western public discourse. Overall, I have a strong training and interest in the philosophy of science and situate my study within the intepretive-qualitative tradition of research methods. 

Before joining the Politics Department in 2015, I read for an MPhil (distinction) in Russian and East European Studies at St. Antony's, Oxford and a BA in International Relations at the University of Geneva. Five out of my six years of post-graduate studies have been fully-funded by the Berrow Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation. I have been a visiting fellow at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade and at the Department of Comparative Politics at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in St. Petersburg. I have also secured funding for visiting fellowships at the Albert Hirschman Centre for Democracy at the Geneva Graduate Institute as well as at the University of Vienna. 


Mother tongue: German and Greek

C2 level: English, French, Italian

C1 level: Russian

B2 level: Serbo-Croat

A2 level: Spanish

Teaching specialism, interests and experience

I was the Graduate Teaching Assistant for Qualitative Research Methods of the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the Department of International Development in 2018. I have also acted as a tutor for PPE undergraduate students for the International Relations, International Security and Politics of Russia and the Former Soviet Union papers between 2016 and 2018. 

I have been involved as a research assistant in two large-scale research projects led by Dr. Félix Krawatzek and Prof. Gwendolyn Sasse respectively.

Moreover, I strongly believe in scholars' social responsibility to make their expertise more accessible for a wider audience and ideally, to put it to concrete use. In this vein, I publish in Swiss newspapers, have featured on swissinfo.ch and France24 and conducted a seminar for the Women's Network at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as well as an outreach event to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to choose Politics for their A levels.


Ernst-Mach worldwide scholarship (2019)

Europaeum Oxford-Geneva bursary (2018)

Swiss National Science Foundation (2016-2018)

Berrow Foundation Scholarship (2013-2017)

Vivian Green student assistant fund for fieldwork in Serbia (2016)

Lincoln College award for having obtained a distinction in the MPhil thesis (2015)

CEELBAS bursary for fieldwork in Russia (2014)

Lincoln College Graduate research fund (2014)



"NGOisation and generational divide in Serbia's feminist fovement, Women's Studies International Forum, volume 77, 2019. 

Conference Papers and Presentations

"How to be critical in critical times" (12-14 June), panel hosted at the annual Conference of the British International Studies Association, London, 2019.

"Russian feminists’ subversion of anti-Western official discourse", paper presented on the panel: How to be critical in critical times? at the annual conference of the British International Studies Association, 12. June, 2019.

"Is it all about anger and self-exclusion? The Serbian feminist movement through the eyes of the young feminist (in)activists" (15. April), paper presented on the panel Gender, Identity and Corruption in the Balkans at the Annual Conference of the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, 2018.

"No such thing as 'false consciousness': Serbian feminists' rejection of post-colonial subjectivity" (15. June), paper presented on the panel South East Europe and the International(I): Reimagining 
the state, society and political economy at the annual conference of the British International Studies Association, Bath, 2018.

"Russian Feminists’ Risky Critique of Western Knowledge-Transfer" (6. February), paper presented on the panel Gendered Resistances at the Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association, University of Geneva, 2018.

"Russian Feminists Risky Contestation of Sistriarchy and Zapadnitsi" (18. October), paper presented at Post-Communist Identities, Concepts and Perspectivism workshop, British International Studies Association working group on Interpretivism, RANEPA, St. Petersburg, 2017.

"What does the Return to Local Knowledge Stand for? Serbian feminists between Decolonisation and Generational Struggle" (23 September), paper presented at the conference on Dialoguing ‘between the posts’: Post-socialist and post-/decolonial perspectives on domination, hierarchy and resistance in South-Eastern Europe, British International Studies Association working group on South-Eastern Europe, Singidunum University, Belgrade, 2017.

"A Genuine Backlash or Politics as Usual? Serbian Feminists’ Perceptions of Contemporary Political Change" (8. June), paper presented on the panel Backlash: Mobilizing For Gender (In)Equality In Hard Times at the European Conference on Politics and Gender, Lausanne, 2017.

"Illiberalism on the Rise or Politics as Usual? Serbian Feminists’ Lived Experience of Political Change" (18 May), Illiberal Democracy workshop, British International Studies Association working group on South-Eastern Europe, UCL, London, 2017.