Research Output per year
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.
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 'Contextual Theology and the Politics of Faith' and the development a cross-cultural and interfaith contextual theology project entitled the 'Faith and Peaceful Relations Forum'.
Currently he is undertaking an action-research project funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government that focuses 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 just beginning a major new three year urban theology project 'Life on the Breadline - Christianity, Politics and Poverty in the 21st century city', which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. In this project Shannahan and his two CO-Is - Professor Robert Beckford and Professor Peter Scott will analyse 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'.
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.
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
2003 → 2008
Theology, Degree, University of Birmingham
1990 → 1992
Religion and Sociology, Degree, Goldsmiths College, University of London
1981 → 1984
External Examiner, University of Chester1 Jan 2018 → …
Peer Reviewer, Routledge1 Jan 2017 → …
Peer Reviewer, Culture and Religion academic Journal2017 → …
Peer Reviewer, Ethnicities academic Journal2017 → …
Peer Reviewer, European Political Science academic Journal2017 → …
External Examiner, Canterbury Christ Church University1 Sep 2016 → …
Research output: Research › Commissioned report
Research output: Research - peer-review › Chapter
Schools Linking and Social Cohesion: An Evaluation of The Linking Network's National Schools Linking ProgrammeShannahan, C. 1 Aug 2018 88 p.
Research output: Research › Commissioned report
Activities per year
Activity: Membership of network