Professor Churnjeet Mahn

Deputy Associate Principal

English

Contact

Personal statement

I am a researcher in literature with expertise in travel writing, race, and sexuality. 

My work on travel began with a study of British women’s travel to Greece in the long nineteenth century and the complicity of feminist movements with discourses of racism and Orientalism (Mahn 2012). A recurring theme in this work was how the tangible heritage of Greece was whitewashed as ‘European’ while Greece’s intangible heritage was represented as irrecoverably corrupted by Ottoman occupation and the influence of Islam. This work combined research on the Classics, emerging humanities disciplines such as Geography and Ethnography, literary studies, and women non-fiction writers interested in race and politics. By using travel writing as a genre which connected these disparate figures (who were often connected through shared voyages and itineraries), I produced the first major study of how British women co-operated with, and through some feminist thinking sometimes resisted, the construction of (ancient) Greek heritage as part of a white, western world. My work on ethnography, maps and areas with Islamic influence led to my selection as one of the AHRC/British Council UnBox Fellows for 2013 and a subsequent impact-led grant on how to rehabilitate one of Punjab’s historic Mughal-era gardens to public memory (PI, AHRC, A Punjabi Palimpsest).

Since then, my work has continued to be focused on the intersection of race and travel, with a special focus on interactions with the Muslim world. My work on Punjab and the run-up to Partition, along with its aftermath, was informed by how folk culture had been (mis)represented in the accounts of British colonial folklorists and anthropologists who had key roles in influencing colonial policies that created official social categories which did not accommodate the complexity of real social structures (Malik, Mahn, et al 2020; Mahn 2017). This work led to two collaborations with organisations working with Punjabi heritage as part of the AHRC grant Creative Interruptions. This large 3-year grant was awarded as part of the Connected Communities programme and was based on collaborative and co-designed research and impact.

Alongside this work, I have a long-standing interest in queer theory which originates from my work on Jane Ellen Harrison’s reading of pre-modern matriarchal cultures alongside the popularity of Greece as a destination of key queer thinkers and activists from the nineteenth century. I have written on the relative absence of queer theory and critical engagement with sexuality in the field of travel writing (Mahn 2015) and am currently working on a book project about queer of colour writing about travel. I have delivered equalities-led research on this issue in an AHRC grant (PI, States of Desire) which aimed to address how queer lives could be recognised and supported in a leading anti-racist refugee organisation which struggled to reconcile cultural differences to LGBTQ+ identities within the organisation (Mahn, Milne, et al 2019). I am also currently working on a smaller project on researching the lives of queer South Asian migrants to the UK (PI, British Academy, Cross-Border Queers).

 

Current projects:

British Academy - Cross-Border Queers: The Story of South Asian Migration to the UK (with Dr Rohit Dasgupta, University of Glasgow)

AHRC EDI Fellowship 

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Publications

Inclusive Volunteering in Scotland
Taylor Yvette, Mahn Churnjeet, Burke Erin, Sanders Jeff
(2023)
Inclusive Volunteering Toolkit
Taylor Yvette, Mahn Churnjeet, Burke Erin, Sanders Jeff
(2023)
Introduction
Taylor Yvette, Brim Matt, Mahn Churnjeet
Queer Precarities In and Out of Higher Education Challenging Instutional Structures (2023) (2023)
‘Walking into Whiteness’ : Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist and the routes of empire
Mahn Churnjeet
Hari Kunzru (2023) (2023)
Queer Precarities in and out of Higher Education
Taylor Yvette, Brim Matt, Mahn Churnjeet
(2023)
Ethical tensions in participatory research with queer young people from refugee backgrounds : critiquing a code of ethics
Milne Ej, Mahn Churnjeet, Guzman Mayra, Ahmed Farhio
Global Child Children and Families Affected by War, Displacement and Migration (2023) (2023)

More publications

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Professional Activities

Research in Ruins
Speaker
7/2023
Imposing on Diversity Fails
Speaker
6/2023
EDI in Scottish Heritage
Speaker
5/2023
Between visibility and elsewhere: South Asian queer creative cultures
Speaker
5/2023
EDI Engagement Fellows Meeting
Speaker
4/2023
Queer Inclusive Approaches to Heritage
Participant
2/2023

More professional activities

Projects

A Hidden History: South Asian Medical Professionals in Scotland 1872-2022
Mahn, Churnjeet (Principal Investigator) Kelly, Laura (Co-investigator)
AHRC/SGSAH Funded
08-Jan-2024 - 30-Jan-2027
'White Thinking' and the failed promise of diversity in Scottish heritage
Mahn, Churnjeet (Principal Investigator) Murphy, David (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2024
Inclusive Volunteering Report and Toolkit (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland & Scottish Government)
Mahn, Churnjeet (Principal Investigator)
09-Jan-2023 - 24-Jan-2023
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Scottish Heritage
Mahn, Churnjeet (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 29-Jan-2022
Creative Interruptions: grassroots creativity, state structures and disconnection as a space for 'radical openness'
Mahn, Churnjeet (Principal Investigator)
Creative Interruptions: grassroots creativity, state structures and disconnection as a space for 'radical openness'
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2020
Connecting States of Desire: Sustaining LGBTQ Lives in a Refugee Organisation
Mahn, Churnjeet (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2015 - 31-Jan-2016

More projects

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Contact

Professor Churnjeet Mahn
Deputy Associate Principal
English

Email: churnjeet.mahn@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 444 8341