Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    Political Theology; Theology and Poverty; Liberation Theology; Theology and Racism; Faith-based political activism; Theology and Diversity


    Research activity per year

    Personal profile


    Chris Shannahan is an Associate Professor in Political Theology at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. Before joining Coventry University in 2015 Chris was the head of Religious Education in a large East London Secondary school; a youth worker in the East End of London and Trenchtown, Jamaica; a Methodist Minister in inner-city London and Birmingham and a community organiser. This grassroots experience provided the grounding for his research in urban theology, sociology of religion and diversity studies and the basis of his PhD, within which he developed the first critical analysis of urban theology in the UK (2008, University of Birmingham). On completing his doctorate he became a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and then a Teaching Fellow at the University of Birmingham (2009-2012) where he developed a major ethnographic project working alongside unemployed young men on a large Birmingham housing estate and pioneered the teaching of urban theology and political theology. In 2013 he moved to the University of Manchester to take up the position of Lecturer in Religions and Theology. You can find out more about his current research on Twitter at @ChrisShannahan.

    Research Highlights

    His first monograph, Voices from the Borderland (2010) was described as a ‘ground-breaking’ example of cross-cultural urban theology and is a set text at Universities and Theological Colleges in the UK, the USA and Australia. His second monograph, A Theology of Community Organizing (2014) provided the first systematic theological analysis of broad-based community organising. His research utilises Hip-Hop culture, as seen in his 2012 partnership with the street artist Mohammed ‘aerosol’ Ali on Chris's ‘Bromford Dreams – Graffiti Spiritualities’ action research project. At present he is working on his third monograph, which arises from his 2018-2021 'Life on the Breadline' research project and is provisionally entitled 'Life on the Breadline - Politics, Poverty and Liberation Theology in an Age of Austerity'. 

    His 'Schools Linking and Social Cohesion' action-research project, which was funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government focused on the Schools Linking National Programme run by The Linking Network, which is committed to fostering greater understanding of other cultures and religions amongst school-children across England as a means of fostering social cohesion.

    He was the Principal Investigator on a major three year urban theology project 'Life on the Breadline - Christianity, Politics and Poverty in the 21st century city' [2018-2021] which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. In this project Shannahan, his two CO-Is - Professor Robert Beckford and Professor Peter Scott and Research Fellow, Dr Stephanie Denning analysed the nature, scope and impact of Christian engagement with urban poverty in the UK since the 2008 financial crash. Based around 6 original ethnographic case studies, more than 100 interviews and a nationwide survey of Church leaders, the project represents the first evidence-based academic theological analysis of poverty in the UK in an 'age of austerity'. You can keep up to date on Twitter using the hashtag #BreadlineResearch. His 2019 paper, 'The violence of poverty: Theology and activism in an Age of Austerity' (Political Theology) introduces a number of the key themes that the project was exploring and his most recent paper. 'Politics, Poverty and the Church in an Age of Austerity' [co-written with Stephanie Denning], which was published in Religions in 2023, analyses the key findings from Life on the Breadline and the challenges these pose for theology, the Church and policymakers in the UK.

    Postgraduate Teaching

    Chris was the Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations from September 2019- January 2023. You can find out more about CTPSR's Masters Courses here.

    PhD Supervision and PhD Completions

    Chris is keen to supervise PhD students exploring different aspects of liberation theology and political theology (particularly in relation to poverty, inequality and racial justice); the role of faith groups in the public sphere; faith-based identities in a post-secular world and intercultural dialogue.

    To date he has supervised 12 PhD students to completion - 

    • Scott Midson (Theology and the Post-human]
    • Charles Pemberton (Theology, Charity and Liberation)
    • Rohann Gideon (Childrens' Liberation Theology)
    • Eveleigh Buck-Matthews [Spirituality, Youth Identity and Music Festivals]
    • Mahmoud Soliman [Palestinian Non-Violent Resistatnce to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank]
    • Ian Calliou [The Possibility of Reconciliation  between First Nation Peoples and the Canadian State]
    • Jennifer Verson [Performance, Scriptural Reasoning and Peacebuilding]
    • Lucy Peacock [Schools Linking and Interfaith Dialogue]
    • Rana Aytug [Young People as Peacebuilders in Diverse Cities]
    • Hafza Iqbal [Sufi Hybrids - Towards a Practical Theology of British Sufism]
    • Mabel Alkali [Becoming the Temple of God - Femininity Construction in African Pentecostal Churches].
    • Suzanne Vernon-Yorke [Is Interfaith Dialogue Inclusive of Women?]


    Vision Statement

    My research focuses on the relationship between social exclusion, the life of multicultural cities and urban political theology. My approach to research reflects the vision articulated by Cornel West who suggests that academics are called to ‘shine a light on the social misery that dominant forces within society often keep hidden.’ My work alongside young gang members in Trenchtown Jamaica, HIV+ homeless people in San Francisco, unemployed young men on urban housing estates, inter-faith community organising networks and British-Muslim youth in inner city Birmingham has reflected a fundamental commitment to research and teaching for progressive social change. You can find out more about my work by visiting my Blog, Finding Faith in an Urban World.

    Research Interests

    Political Theology; Theology and Poverty; Religion and Politics; Hip-Hop culture; Theology and Multiculturalism; Liberation Theology; Christianty and Racism; Theologies of Reconciliation; Faith-based Peacebuilding

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    Education/Academic qualification

    Theology, Doctorate, Cross Cultural Urban Theology in the 21st Century, University of Birmingham


    Award Date: 2 Jun 2008

    Theology, Degree, Postgraduate BD, University of Birmingham


    Award Date: 6 Jul 1992

    Religion and Sociology, Degree, Goldsmiths, University of London


    Award Date: 1 Jun 1984

    External positions

    Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Religion

    1 Mar 2020 → …

    External Examiner, University of Chester

    1 Jan 20181 Jan 2022

    Peer Reviewer, Routledge

    1 Jan 2017 → …

    Peer Reviewer, Culture and Religion academic Journal

    2017 → …

    Peer Reviewer, Ethnicities academic Journal

    2017 → …

    Peer Reviewer, European Political Science academic Journal

    2017 → …

    External Examiner, Canterbury Christ Church University

    1 Sept 20161 Sept 2020


    • BR Christianity
    • Liberation Theology
    • Poverty and Inequality
    • Racial Justice
    • Faith-based Political Activism
    • social movements
    • religion and public life


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