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School of Geography

Chandan Mahal


PhD student

Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.11


Title of research: Family History, Place and Diaspora

My PhD research aims to examine the relationships between family history and community heritage in diaspora. The research, a collaboration between QMUL and the RGS-IBG, will involve using inter-generational and participatory research methods with members of two different post-war migrant communities. The research will consider the connections between family history, place and diaspora using the collections and archives at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), to understand the significance of places of ancestral residence, departure, journeys, settlement, networks and return in diasporic family history. Alongside the collections and archives at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the use of personal objects, photographs and documents from participants will also be analyzed to examine how visual materials and objects can contribute to a broader understanding of community heritage. The research will aim to make a distinctive contribution to debates about the relationships between family, diaspora, and community history. In addition, the research will provide an opportunity to develop resources from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), collections that can encourage communities and individuals to use the collections to explore family and community history.

I have been working in the museum, gallery and heritage sector for fifteen years, with a background in interpretation, public programming and audience development. My role has had a particular focus on developing programmes that explore community heritage, specifically African and South Asian heritage through different archives and collections. I have worked on many gallery projects and exhibitions that have provided opportunities for contemporary collecting of oral history and visual culture relating to community histories. Currently I work part time at the British Library, where I am responsible for the national learning and engagement strategy for the ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ project.



  • AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award


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