Spotlight on Development Research: Megan Bradley

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and ISID

Since joining ISID and the Department of Political Science in 2014, Megan Bradley has garnered multiple research grants to deepen her investigations into the challenges of forced migration in contemporary world politics. Her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant on the politics of international organizations (IOs) in the humanitarian sphere focuses in particular on the causes and implications of the rapid growth of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A relatively understudied organization, IOM is now amongst the largest IOs active in the humanitarian sector, with an increasingly pronounced effect on global governance, particularly in relation to migration, human rights, and involvement in responses to humanitarian emergencies in the global South. These activities have significant and complex effects on purported “beneficiaries,” states, and humanitarian governance. From 2015-2017 Bradley conducted 53 in-depth interviews with IOM and member state officials, human rights advocates and humanitarians working with UN agencies and NGOs. This fall, she is finalizing the book manuscript to emerge from this project, The International Organization for Migration: Challenges and Complexities of a Rising Humanitarian Actor, which is under contract to appear in the Routledge Global Institutions series.

See the recent publication by Bradley (2017), “The International Organization for Migration (IOM): Gaining Power in the Forced Migration Regime,” Refuge 33(1): 91-106.

Bradley has also received SSHRC and FRQSC grants to study the relationship between transitional justice, displacement, and disasters. While disasters inevitably entail losses, many are also characterized by grave injustices. For example, post-disaster assistance may be inadequate, discriminatory, or non-existent, as in the case of Cyclone Nargis in Burma, where the regime purposefully denied its citizens life-saving aid. Although disasters are often the site of systematic violations and can catalyze major transitions, grave injustices associated with disasters have rarely been addressed through transitional justice processes, and few scholars have questioned this exclusion.

With SSHRC support Bradley has conducted fieldwork in post-disaster sites in the United States, including in relation to the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. With support from FRQSC, and in cooperation with McGill postdoctoral fellow Dr. Mohamed Sesay, Bradley will also be exploring these questions in relation to the major mudslides that hit Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 2017.

The first article from this project by Bradley, entitled “More than Misfortune: Recognizing Natural Disasters as a Concern for Transitional Justice,” was recently published in the International Journal of Transitional Justice.

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