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School of Geography

Louisa Brain

PhD Student



Research interests: mobility; immobility; climate change; Africa

PhD working title: Im/mobility and environmental change in the Horn of Africa

My PhD project focuses on how people in the Horn of Africa navigate im/mobility in the context of environmental change. The relationship between environmental change and mobility is receiving growing attention in academia, policy, and development programming. The focus has tended to privilege movement, broadly distinguishing between voluntary migration (e.g. ‘migration as adaptation’), displacement (e.g. ‘environmental refugees’) or planned relocations of populations affected by climate change (e.g. sea level rise). An emerging literature has identified risks faced by those who do not move in the face of climate change, particularly focusing on people becoming trapped in place. Yet by privileging movement, existing research sets up mobility and immobility in binary terms, leaving unanswered questions about how immobility is experienced and structured. My research seeks to move beyond this mobility—immobility dichotomy to explore im/mobility as process, as relational, and as political.

Prior to starting my PhD I have worked in project management and research roles focused on international development and migration, including with the Research and Evidence Facility, a consortium conducting policy-relevant research on migration, development and conflict in the Horn of Africa; the London International Development Centre Migration Leadership Team; and several UK and Australian funded aid projects across Africa and the Pacific.

Academic background:

MSc Migration, Mobility and Development, SOAS, University of London

BA International Relations, University of Queensland

BSocSc Development, University of Queensland


Professor Kavita Datta, School of Geography

Dr William Monteith, School of Geography


Queen Mary University of London Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship (QMUL-LTDS)

RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Award

British Institute in Eastern Africa Thematic Research Grant

Queen Mary Postgraduate Research Fund


Brain, L., Adow, H., Jama, J.M., Manji, F., Owiso, M., Adugna Tufa, F. and Wasuge, M. (2020) COVID-19 and mobility, conflict and development in the Horn of Africa: REF briefing paper. London and Nairobi: EU Trust Fund for Africa (Horn of Africa Window) Research and Evidence Facility

Hammond, L., Chase, E., Datta, K., Allsopp, J., Brain, L. and Tummers, H. (2020) Towards a holistic migration research strategic agenda: Integration, partnerships, and impact. London: London International Development Centre Migration Leadership Team



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