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Shalini Matharage

PhD Candidate in Political Science

Shalini is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University, specializing in international relations and comparative politics. She possesses a strong background and keen interest in international migration, refugee crises, and disaster management and risk reduction. Shalini gained experience as a Research Assistant for the Forced Migration & Policy Responses in an Era of Global Change Tier I Project during the 2023-2024 academic cycle. Additionally, she has served as a Teaching Assistant for International Relations and Modern Political Thought. Currently, she is actively engaged in research with Dr. Denis Sullivan and Dr. Daniel Aldrich.

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Originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka, Shalini has lived in Japan for the past 5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Law from Nagoya University in Japan and will be receiving a Master of Arts from the Political Science Department of Northeastern University in May 2024. She enjoys learning new languages, traveling, and baking.

Prior work

While enrolled at Nagoya University as a bachelor’s student, Shalini completed her thesis under the supervision of Dr. Sean McGinty. Her research delved into the question, ‘Why does International Human Rights Law (IHRL) Fail to Protect Undocumented Migrants?’ This project involved a discussion of the inadequacy of international human rights instruments in providing adequate protection for undocumented immigrants. Shalini also explored alternative paths within international law aimed at safeguarding the human rights of these vulnerable migrants. Her assessment considered the feasibility of a universal approach to IHRL while acknowledging the preservation of sovereignty.

Research Interest 

Shalini’s current research work focuses on two different fields in political science. First, she is focusing on the international refugee regime and its role in contemporary refugee crises. She is currently co-authoring an article with Dr. Denis Sullivan titled, “Is the 1951 Convention out of date and essentially ignored? Is it feasible to investigate this?” This work attempts to unravel gaps in the international refugee regime (referring to the 1951 Refugee framework and the 1967 protocol), including changed circumstances, narrow definitions, issues of human rights, burdens placed on host states, and the aftermath of asylum outcomes. Following a comprehensive understanding of these gaps, our goal is to provide a discourse on potential solutions moving forward.

Her secondary research interest lies in disaster risk reduction (DRR). She is currently co-authoring a journal article with Dr. Daniel Aldrich that explores the role of community engagement in DRR efforts at the local level. By employing a series of Delphic interviews, our study transcends national boundaries, seeking to uncover an emerging narrative of DRR by examining several countries known for their distinctive approaches to disaster risk reduction.

Articles Under Review

‘Everyday Nationalism’ and Immigration in an Aging Society: An Analysis of Immigrant Perception in Japan,’ slated to appear in the book ‘Nationality Struggles in the 21st Century and its Social Costs in Asia.’

Research Interests:

International Migration, International Refugee Crisis, Post-migration Barriers, Nationalism, Disaster Management, Disaster Risk Reduction. 

Contact info:
Renaissance Park, 9th Floor
1135 Tremont St 
Boston, MA 02120
LinkedIn: ShaliniM

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