Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo


Research Interests

Global human rights; Modern African History/Politics; Peace and Conflict; Legal History; Imperialism

  • Participedia Phase 2: Participedia is a global network and crowdsourcing platform for researchers, educators, practitioners, and policymakers working on public participation and democratic innovations. The network communicates knowledge of democratic innovations to defend, expand, and deepen civic inclusion and democratic governance. Participedia responds to current crises in democracy. Recent events show that electoral democracy is under increasing strain in many parts of the world. The project, now based at McMaster University under the directorship of Bonny Ibhawoh, has received a second $2.5 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to expand its reach and impact. During Phase 1 of the project, contributors compiled more than 1,800 cases and 330 methods of participatory democracy around the world. These range from deliberative “mini-publics” (e.g. citizens’ assemblies) and popular assemblies (e.g. participatory budgeting), to protests, e-democracy, and land reform movements. Working with funding from SSHRC and other sources, Phase 2 of Participedia will build on the work of the past six years. In addition to its initial focus on participatory governance,  the project’s network expands its focus to include five new areas: Human rights, Democratic accountability, Democratic representation, Democracy across borders, Democracy and digital communications. Phase 2 focuses on innovations and bottom-up understandings of democracy in the Global South, which refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Researchers and contributors will also address the ethical and methodological questions underlying how we document, understand, and analyze non-Western democratic innovations. Participedia currently comprises 63 researchers from 22 universities and 21 organizations across 12 countries. | @Participedia on Twitter | Watch our new video
  • Confronting Atrocity: Truth Commissions, National Reconciliation and the Politics of Memory: Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh (McMaster University, Canada – Principal Investigator), Dr. Sylvia Bawa (York University, Canada) and Dr. Jasper Ayelazuno (University for Development Studies, Ghana). – This project is a study of national truth commissions established in six African countries in the context of post-conflict reconstruction (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Columbia) and democratic transition (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Gambia). The overall objective is to make an original contribution to the fields of transitional justice and memory studies by providing a historically grounded transnational study of truth commissions. Confronting Atrocity will examine the conflicting roles of truth commissions in national efforts to “objectively” investigate and redress past atrocities through restorative justice. It will investigate the construction of collective memory in the truth seeking and reconciliation work of truth commissions. It will assess truth commissions not simply as mechanisms of victim-centered transitional justice or instruments of state (re)building, but also as spaces of political and legal struggles over social memory. By approaching truth commissions as “memory archives,” this study will address gaps in existing research and develop a new methodology to deepen understanding of truth commissions. (This project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight grant)
  • Participedia Phase 1: A Global Partnership to Create and Mobilize Knowledge about Democratic Innovations (Co-investigator with Principal Investigator Dr. Mark E. Warren, University of British Columbia). This research focuses on transformations in democratic governance. This research examines the processes that exist for participatory governance around the world and what forms work best for specific problems and issues, for specific goals, under specific circumstances. We aim to map this rapidly developing domain of political innovation to create the information base necessary for high quality research and evidence-based public policy practice. At its heart is an unprecedented research platform (link) that enables decentralized, collaborative creation and mobilization of knowledge in ways that will exceed the capacities of a more traditionally-organized research team. This enables the development of a very large qualitative and quantitative dataset on participatory processes and related democratic innovations. (Project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada partnership grant)
  • Seeking the Political Kingdom: Nation, Minorities and Human Rights in the African State“The goal of this study is to investigate human rights protection for minority racial, ethnic and religious groups in the modern African state. It seeks to examine the impact of the bill of rights and other constitutional guarantees put in place during decolonization on the de facto protection of minority rights in the immediate aftermath of colonial rule. The aim is to provide a socio-legal history of minority rights protection in the African state from 1957 to the 1980s.  (Project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight grant)
  • “Peacebuilding in Conflicted Societies: Comparative Experiences and Local Perspectives” [with Dr. Diane Enns, in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainability and Peace, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan] – See Project Research Brief (Project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada International Opportunities fund grant)
  • “Citizens of Empire, Citizens of the World”: Second World War Propaganda, Imperial Idealism and Anti-Colonial Nationalism in British West Africa.Click here for some Archival Images of British Colonial War Propaganda.
  • Native Palavers, Imperial Justice: African Appeals before the British Privy Council 1860-1960. Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded project.
  • Assets Coming Together for Youth: Linking Research, Policy and Action for Positive Youth Development. The principal investigator is Professor Uzo Anucha of York University. I am co-lead on a research theme working group on “Reframing Discourses.” Research Grant Announcement.(Project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Community-University Research Alliance Grant)
  • Shell Petroleum Development Company, Human Rights Training Program for Frontline Staff, 2011
  • Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg: Developing a Global Historical Human Rights Timeline to guide the Museum’s Displays and Exhibits. 2010.
  • Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark: Human Rights NGOs in Africa. 2001


  • 2020-2025: Oyinade Adekunle, “Capital Punishment and Criminal Justice in Nigeria.” McMaster University.
  • 2018-2022: Jennifer Wallace, “From Testimony to Truth: An Examination of Memory Practices in Post-Truth Commission Sierra Leone and South Africa.” McMaster University.
  • 2018-2022: Elvar Ingimundarson, “British Imperialism and Chartered Company Rule in Africa.” McMaster University.
  • 2016-2020: Adebisi Alade, “The Sanitizing Mission: African Sanitary Inspectors and Colonial Hygiene Policies in Nigeria.” Trillium Doctoral Scholarship – McMaster-United Nations University, Water without Boarders
  • 2015-2020: Paul A. Emiljanowicz, “Ghana, World, and Future: Translocality and National Development for Pan-Africanism, 1957-1968.” Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship
  • 2014-2018: Samantha Stevens-Hall, “Writing History, Writing Uganda: African Intellectuals and Representations of the Past in Early Colonial Uganda, 1880-1930.”
  • Oluwayemisi Adepoju, Gender and Peacebuilding: A Study of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction In Sierra Leone, (Covenant University)
  • 2009-2014: Arua Oko, “Mercy Angels: The Joint Church Aid and the Humanitarian Response in Biafra, 1967-1970” – Now published as The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970: International Human Rights and Joint Church Aid (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)
  • 2014-2015: Brad Crawford, “Peace-building and State Development in East Africa 1960-2000.”


  • 2017: Lauretta Janes, “An Ubuntu Inspired Social Network: Responding to the Needs of Mature Students in Canadian Universities,” (Institute on Globalization, McMaster University).
  • 2017: Crispas Musau, “The reach and limits of global governance: Kenya’s democratic/political reforms in the aftermath of the 2007/2008 post-election violence,” (Institute on Globalization, McMaster University).
  • 2015: Njavwa Mukwavi (Institute on Globalization, McMaster University). “Child Welfare in Zambia: The Role and Impact of Governmental and Nongovernmental Actors on the Welfare of Zambian Children.”
  • 2015: Patricia Ackah-Baidoo, “Youth Employment in the Extractive Industries in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Ghana.” (Institute on Globalization, McMaster University).
  • 2011: Tracy Lopes (History, McMaster University) Completed.
  • 2010: Celine Dufresne, (History, McMaster University) Completed.
  • 2009: Rahiana Tahiru, (Social Justice and Equity Studies, Brock University)
  • 2009: Lekan Akinosho (Political Science, University of Waterloo)
  • 2008: Tracy Warren, (History, McMaster University).
  • 2008: Theresa Wright, (History, McMaster University).
  • 2007: Natasha Sawh, (Institute on Globalization, McMaster University).
  • 2007: Sara Cowden, (History, McMaster University). Completed.
  • 2006: Kate Williams, (Social Justice and Equity, Brock University).
  • 2006: Sylvia Bawa, (Social Justice and Equity Studies, Brock University).

Doctoral Fellowship