Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Urban Theology; Theology and Poverty; Theology and Racism; Faith-based political activism; Theology and Diversity


Research output per year

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Personal profile


Prior to joining Coventry University in 2015 Chris Shannahan 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 where he taught courses on Political Theology, Urban Theology, Myth, the Study of Religion and Introducing Christian Theology. Alongside his research into Chrisitian action on poverty, Theology and Racism and faith-based political activism he is currently developing a cross-cultural and interfaith contextual theology project entitled the 'Faith and Peaceful Relations Forum' and is the coordinator of research on intercultural dialogue and diversity at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. You can find out more about his current research on Twitter at @ChrisShannahan.

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 book, provisionally entitled 'Christianity, 'Race' and the Politics of Faith'. 

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 is 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 is 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 is analysing 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 and more than 100 interviews 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 most recent 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 is exploring.

Chris is the Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. You can find out more about CTPSR's Masters Courses here.


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

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

Education/Academic qualification

Theology, Doctorate, University of Birmingham


Theology, Degree, University of Birmingham


Religion and Sociology, Degree, Goldsmiths College, University of London


External positions

Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Religion

1 Mar 2020 → …

External Examiner, University of Chester

1 Jan 2018 → …

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 Sep 20161 Sep 2020

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  • Research Output

    The Violence of Poverty: Theology and Activism in an 'Age of Austerity'

    Shannahan, C., 2019, In : Political Theology. 20, 3, p. 243-261 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 6 Downloads (Pure)

    Zombie multiculturalism meets liberative difference: Searching for a new discourse of diversity

    Shannahan, C., 20 Feb 2017, In : Culture and Religion. 17, 4, p. 409-430 21 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    73 Downloads (Pure)

    Voices from the Borderland: Re-imagining Cross-Cultural Urban Theology in the 21st Century,

    Shannahan, C., 15 Dec 2010, London/New York: Routledge. 256 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • A Theology of Community Organizing: Power to the people

    Shannahan, C., 2014, 1 ed. Abingdon: Routledge. 210 p. (Routledge Studies in Religion)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • 3 Citations (Scopus)

    Christian Social Action

    Shannahan, C., 14 Nov 2019, The Bloomsbury Handbook to Studying Christians. Chryssides, G. D. & Gregg, S. E. (eds.). 1 ed. Bloomsbury Academic

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Life on the Breadline: Christianity, Poverty and Politics in the 21st century

    Chris Shannahan (Speaker)
    2 Jul 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Life on the Breadline - The Unequal Impact of Austerity

    Chris Shannahan (Speaker)
    28 Jul 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Society for the Study of Theology

    Chris Shannahan (Speaker)
    11 Apr 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    External Examiner

    Chris Shannahan (Examiner)
    1 Jan 2018 → …

    Activity: Examination

    Christian action on UK poverty in an 'age of austerity'

    Chris Shannahan (Speaker)
    8 Nov 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Press / Media

    Churches respond to UK austerity

    Chris Shannahan


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Research

    The Church's Response to Austerity

    Chris Shannahan


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    'Sunday' BBC Radio 4

    Chris Shannahan


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Religion and Hip-Hop

    Chris Shannahan


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment


    The words for what you are feeling: articulating reconciliation in Canada from an Indigenous research paradigm

    Author: Calliou, I., May 2020

    Supervisor: Jakala, M. (Supervisor) & Shannahan, C. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy