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Personal information

Dr. Nana de Graaff is Associate Professor in Political Science and International Relations at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. She is also Director of Studies for the BSc and MSc Political Science at this department and Programme director of the Graduate School of Social Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is Chair of the EU COST Action 18215 China in Europe Research Network. She was a Honorary Fellow (2016-2017), at the Department of International Politics, City University of London and is boardmember of the Dutch Political Science Association (NKWP, Nederlandse Kring voor de Wetenschap der Politiek) since 2015. 



Nana de Graaff's main research interests are within International Relations, International Political Economy and Elite Studies (political sociology): Chinese political and economic elites; the globalization of Chinese firms; US foreign policy in the post-Cold War period; American political and economic elites; Corporate elite networks; Social Network Analysis; the politics and political economy of energy.

She publishes in leading journals in International Relations (European Journal of International Relations, International Affairs, International Politics), journals within the field of International Political Economy and Sociology (e.g. Global Networks, Globalizations, International Journal of Comparative Sociology) and with highly ranked publishers (e.g. Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Palgrave McMillan).

She is an advisory board member of the journal The International Spectatorhttps://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rspe20/current


Grants and Research Projects

De Graaff obtained an EU COST Action grant: China in Europe Research Network (CHERN) (2019-2023), with which she will establish a Europe wide network aimed at pooling, exchanging, disseminating and generating research on Chinese socio-economic engagements with Europe. 

She is co-Principal Investigator in an ESRC (UK) funded project (2019-2022) 'Fraying Ties? Networks, Territory and Transformation in the UK oil sector.’ An interdisciplinary research project led by Prof. Gavin Bridge (Durham University) in collaboration with London School of Economic (LSE) and Platform. 

She is also a co-investigator in the Corporate Mapping Project, a SSHRC funded research-project aimed at systematically mapping the structure and influence of the fossil fuel industry in Canada led by Prof. William Carroll (Victoria University).

Previously she was part of a Sino-Dutch research project (2013-2017) on the Transnationalization of China’s Oil Industry funded by Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Social Sciences (KNAW), directed by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and International Institute for Asia Studies (Leiden University).



I am Director of Studies for the Bachelor and Master in Political Science, at VU Amsterdam.

I am also Programme Director in charge of doctoral education for the VU Graduate School of Social Sciences.

I teach courses at BSc and MSc level in:

  • International Relations and Global Governance
  • Transnational Political Economy
  • Global Political Economy
  • International Security
  • Model UN
  • Academic Writing
  • Supervision master theses and research papers




I obtained my doctoral degree in Political Science (cum laude/with distinction) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2013, and also received my MSc-degree International Relations there in 2006. Previously, studied Political Science at the Free University in Brussels.


Prizes and Awards

2018 - Individual Talent Grant - Institute for Societal Resilience, VU Amsterdam. 

2018 - Nominated by students for Frank van der Duyn Schouten award, best senior lecturer in Political Science 

2016 - Best Junior Lecturer of the Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam.

2015 - Research Fellowship of the Dept. of Political Sciences & Public Administration, VU University Amsterdam.

2013 - Faculty Dissertation Prize, Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam.

2013 - Best Lecturer in Political Science, VU University Amsterdam (selected by students).

2013 - Annual Faculty Grant from VU University Faculty of Social Sciences for talented female scholars.


Ancillary activities

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Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where N.A. de Graaff is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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elite Social Sciences
network analysis Social Sciences
foreign policy Social Sciences
imperialism Social Sciences
cold war Social Sciences
social network Social Sciences
China Social Sciences
power elite Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2010 2019

Open Access
state capitalism
Open Access
network analysis
foreign policy
power elite

Saying goodbye? Tracing my itinerary from Amsterdam to Beijing

de Graaff, N. A., Aug 2018, Transnational Capital and Class Fractions: The Amsterdam School Perspective Reconsidered. Jessop, B. & Overbeek, H. (eds.). Abingdon and New York: Routledge, p. 191-196 6 p. (RIPE Series of Global Political Economy ).

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


US-China relations and the crisis of liberal order

de Graaff, N. A. & van Apeldoorn, E. B., 2018

Research output: Online publication or Non-textual formOnline publication or WebsiteProfessional

US-China relations and the liberal world order: Contending elites, colliding visions?

de Graaff, N. & van Apeldoorn, B., 1 Jan 2018, In : International Affairs. 94, 1, p. 113-131 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

world order
foreign policy

Activities 2011 2019

  • 31 Lecture / Presentation
  • 2 PhD thesis examination
  • 1 Conference
  • 1 Workshop

The Wind from the East: Publication workshop of China in Europe Research Network (CHERN)

N.A. de Graaff (Participant), Jeffrey William Henderson (Participant)
7 Nov 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConferenceAcademic

Foreign Direct Investments and China

N.A. de Graaff (Speaker)
Apr 2018

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Workshop - New Trends in the Business-Development Nexus

N.A. de Graaff (Participant)
15 Jan 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventWorkshopAcademic

Corporate networks between China and the West

N.A. de Graaff (Speaker)
18 Jan 2018

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic