If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

I am a Reader in Anthropology and Psychology in the School of Humanities and Social Science and Co-Director of the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics (Director 2019-21). I am an anthropologist and interdisciplinary researcher working on areas of migration, violence, and migrant mental health in conflict and post-conflict societies in Asia: specifically, urban violence among Pakistan’s Urdu-speaking migrant communities in the megacity of Karachi, and transnational refugee migration from Afghanistan. My distinctive area lies in developing interdisciplinary theory that addresses challenges related to migration and mobility, contemporary formations of colonial, structural and political violence, and psychosocial impacts. I have published four books.‘Mohajir Militancy in Pakistan’ (2010, 2012, Routledge) analysed the trajectories of young men to extreme militancy and elite groups of mercenaries in Karachi during the conflicts of the 1990s. Second, ‘Cityscapes of Violence in Karachi’ (2017 ed., Oxford University Press; Hurst & Co.) shifted the focus from a purely academic realm towards the creation of publics and counter-publics engaged in cultural and political commentary, and collaborations for change. My first two books analysed key severe impacts of historical and contemporary violence on communities.

My monograph ‘Arc of the Journeyman: Afghan Migrants in England’, the result of a second major long-term fieldwork, was published with the University of Minnesota Press (2020). Taking an empirical and imaginary field spanning Afghanistan, Pakistan, and England, it developed anthropological takes on mobility and immobility in relation to the transnational kinship obligations and everyday lives of Pashtun migrants. It showed how the burdens of four decades of war and exile fall unforgivingly on Afghan families and their remitting sons—whose enduring struggles, after many years, still enrich an inner archive of dreams, fears, rememberings, and anxieties. In a more refined focus on migration and mental health, my book ‘Mental Disorder: Anthropological Insights’ (University of Toronto Press), synthesised connections between anthropology and the “psych” disciplines— leading to ANRS funded research into irregular Pakistani migration, mobilities, infectious disease (hepatitis, HIV), and mental health in a Paris hospital, and an International Fellowship at the Institut Convergences Migrations in Paris (2020-23). I have also held visiting Scholarships at the National University of Singapore (2017) and Harvard Medical School (2020). I am currently working on a project about older people’s mental health and memories of state repression during COVID in three postcolonial societies on the South China Sea. Alongside, when I have time I am writing a short monograph entitled "The Breath of Empire", in which I am thinking about transgenerational trauma in female kinship relations in the context of colonial Chinese immigration to Britain.

I serve on the University Board of Governors, and I am a Trustee and Council member of the Royal Anthropological Institute. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and a Chartered psychologist (British Psychological Society).


Supervisory Interests

I am interested in supervising students in the interdisciplinary areas of migration, war, conflict, violence, refugees, transnationalism, ethnicity, mobilities, cities, migrant health and mental health, social inequalities, and environmental violence- particularly those working on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and migrant populations in Asia and Europe. My past and present students also work on very different kinds of topic, including around race and sexuality, autophenomenography and psychotherapy, childrens’s violence to parents, climate-induced migration as an emergent political and policy field, adolescent refugee mental health, female genital mutilation in Southern England, honour based violence and the British police, trans lives in Bolivia, refugee women and yoga in Sweden- and postdoctoral resarch on peacemaking in the Basque country.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Sussex

30 Sep 200330 Jun 2008

Award Date: 1 Jul 2008

External positions

Associate Editor

31 Oct 2018 → …

Hon. Obituaries Editor, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

1 Sep 201530 Jun 2019

Manuscripts & Archives Committee, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

1 Sep 2015 → …


  • GN Anthropology
  • Migration mobilities Pakistan Afghanistan violence war conflict
  • refugees
  • BF Psychology
  • anthropology of mental illness and disorder


Dive into the research topics where Nichola Khan is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles