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Juliana Mensah joined the Department of English and Related Literature in 2020 as Lecturer in English and Creative Writing. She holds a BA in English from the University of York and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from Newcastle University. Prior to her academic roles she worked in the arts and cultural sector in creative, project management and governance roles for organisations including Helix Arts, Arts Council England, and Brixton House (formerly Ovalhouse Theatre).
Juliana has taught at Newcastle University and was Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) at the University of York. She went on to be a Research and Teaching Fellow at CAHR and taught on modules on the MA in Applied Human Rights and delivered projects in York and internationally, working with organisations including Amnesty International, National Arts Festival of South Africa, York Theatre Royal, and the Illuminate York Festival.
Her debut novel, Castes from Cobwebs, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2021 and won the inaugural NorthBound Book Award in 2019. Her short stories have been published and are forthcoming in edited collections, including The Book of Newcastle (Comma Press, 2020), New Narratives for the North East (New Writing North, 2021), and Test Signal (Dead Ink and Bloomsbury, 2021) among others.
Juliana’s work in theatre has focused on plays that explore social justice themes, including A Restless Place (Pilot Theatre, 2015); From the Sky to Your Hands (Live Theatre, 2017); the short play, ‘Portraits’, as part of Women Warriors (Workie Ticket Theatre, 2019); and Faster than Bolt, a work-in-progress which was shared at Live Theatre in Newcastle as part of its Elevator Festival in 2020.
Her practice-led research spans prose, theatre, and participatory arts and is frequently engaged with issues of human rights and social justice. She is currently a co-investigator on the British Academy funded project, Verandah of Protection, with long-time collaborators Martin Jones and Dr Alice Nah from the Centre for Applied Human Rights.
Juliana has a particular interest in literary activism, and she teaches on modules on contemporary literature, global literature, creative writing, and creative industries.
Juliana’s literary research focuses on contemporary literature with a particular interest in the works of authors from Africa and her diaspora. In her creative writing practice, Juliana is currently Writer in Residence at the Dilston Physic Garden, which carries out research on plants and herbs for medicinal purposes. Funded by Arts Council England, the residency offers time for the research and development of Juliana’s second novel.
Her practice-led research explores the use of creative methodologies in efforts to expose hidden histories, diversify narratives and challenge pervasive cultural dynamics. Recent projects have included the Security and Protection of Human Rights Defenders at Risk, Law of Asylum, and Verandah of Protection, all delivered with long-time collaborators Martin Jones and Alice Nah from the Centre for Applied Human Rights. Juliana is currently a co-investigator on The Verandah of Protection, a research project led by Martin Jones and Alice Nah and funded through the British Academy’s Heritage, Dignity and Violence Programme. The research focuses on Rohingya refugees who sought protection in Aceh, Indonesia. Using a multi-site, interdisciplinary, and creative research process, the project looks to explore if histories of violence and displacement influence how people respond to appeals for protection.
Juliana is currently on the board of directors for Pilot Theatre and Wasafiri Magazine. She is a member of the Black Writers’ Guild, the Society of Authors, and NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education). Her literary work is represented by Aitken Alexander Associates.