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Tom Western

TomWestern-10m.jpgDr Tom Western


Twitter: @tom_western


Student hours: Tuesdays 15:00-16:00 and Fridays 10:00-12:00








Tom Western is Lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography at UCL, where his research and teaching centre on creative citizenships and migratory activisms. He was previously a Marie Curie fellow in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oslo and an Early Career Fellow in Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford. Before that, Tom graduated with degrees in music and cultural studies from the Universities of Liverpool and Edinburgh, completing an AHRC-funded PhD at the latter in 2015.

Tom works primarily in Athens, Greece, where he is a core team member of the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum (SGYF) – an international activism movement drawing on multiple backgrounds and perspectives, and focussed on building a platform for citizenship. Together they have developed methods of creative activism: using culture as a tool of political participation, of highlighting connections and shared histories, of finding commonalities and remaking the city. With his colleagues in SGYF, Tom runs the Active Citizens Sound Archive, which makes audible these politics and citizenship practices.


In preparation. Circular Movements: Migratory Citizenships in Athens.


Special Issues

2018. ‘Ethnomusicologies of Radio’, edited with Annette Davison and Tom Wagner. Ethnomusicology Forum, 27(3).


Journal Articles

2020. 'Migratory Activisms in the Eastern Mediterranean'. IDEES, 51, special issue on 'A New Mediterranean Vision'.

2020. ‘Listening with Displacement: Sound, Citizenship, and Disruptive Representations of Migration’. Migration and Society, 3(1): 294-309.

2020. ‘Active Citizenship in Athens’. Co-authored with the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum. Forced Migration Review, special issue on ‘Cities and Towns’, 63: 14-15.

2019. ‘Start the Forgetting Machine! Online Sound Archives of European Traditional Music’. Yearbook for Traditional Music. 51: 325-330.

2018. ‘Introduction: Ethnomusicologies of Radio’. Ethnomusicology Forum, 27(3): 1-10.

2018. ‘Aural Borders, Aural Bordering’, ‘Who Is British Music?’, a roundtable convened by Florian Scheding. Twentieth-Century Music, 15(3): 481-487.

2016. ‘Securing the Aural Border: Fieldwork and Interference in Postwar BBC Audio Nationalism’. Sound Studies, 1(1): 77-97.

2014. ‘“The Age of the Golden Ear”: The Columbia World Library and Sounding Out Postwar Field Recording’. Twentieth-Century Music, 11(2): 275-300.


Book Chapters

2021. ‘Sonopolis: Activist Infrastructures and Sonic Citizenships in Athens’. In Audible Infrastructures: Music, Sound, Media, eds. Kyle Devine and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.158-177.

2021. ‘Archival Silence: Friction, Remediation, and Purification in Online Sound Archives’. In Transcultural Music History, ed. Reinhard Strohm. Berlin: Verlag VWB, pp.355-370.

2020. ‘Sounding the Shelter, Voicing the Squat: Sonic Politics of Refugee Shelter in Athens’. In Structures of Protection: Rethinking Refugee Shelter, eds. Tom Scott-Smith and Mark E. Breeze. New York: Berghahn, pp.123-134.

2018. ‘National Phonography in the Musical Past: Empire, Archive, and Overlapping Musical Migrations in Britain’. In Confronting the National in the Musical Past, eds. Elaine Kelly, Derek Scott, and Markus Mantere. New York: Routledge, pp.124-137.

2018. ‘Field Recording and the Production of Place’. In Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound, eds. Samantha Bennett and Eliot Bates. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, pp.23-40.


Blog Posts and Audio Work

2021. Notes on an Anticolonial Athens - dëcoloиıze hellάş (

2020. With Kareem Al Kabbani. ‘The Movement Exists in Voice and Sound’. Sonic Urbanism: Crafting a Political Voice, ed. Theatrum Mundi. &beyond

2020. ‘The Active Citizens Sound Archive’. Refugee Hosts blog –

2019. ‘Refugee Feedback: Sounding Out Everyday Experiences of Displacement’. Rethinking Refuge, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

2019. ‘Loudspeakers / Loud Speakers’. Mediterranean Music Studies blog, International Council of Traditional Music.

2017. With Said Azim Karimi, Muhammad Sukarno Kurdi, Georgios Sourmelis, and Sofia Zafeiriou. ‘ΤΣΣΣΣ ΤΣΣΣ ΤΣΣ ΣΣΣ: Summer in Athens – A Sound Essay’. In Representations of Displacement, ed. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh.


My research centres on social movements, cities, citizenships, activisms, anticolonialisms, creativities, migrations, and borders -- often with a focus on sound and listening.


I work in Athens, Greece, where my research focuses on the movement of movements. I follow how activisms travel, circulate, migrate; how citizenship struggles shuttle from place to place; how resistances resonate across anticolonial geographies and radical trajectories. I'm currently writing a series of things on relation, imagination, and geographies of contestation. This research forms the basis of a book project, titled Circular Movements: Migratory Citizenships in Athens.

Listening as Method

This work aims to develop methods of collaborative research that centre on listening. A new sound piece – ‘The Movement Exists in Voice and Sound’ (2020), recorded and produced with Kareem Al Kabbani in Athens – amplifies vocal politics, revolutionary rhythms, and anticolonial echoes around the Mediterranean. A recent article, ‘Listening with Displacement’, hears how sounds are always moving, and can help us rethink society itself through movement. Migratory activisms turn the city into a site of shared struggle: a sounding board of solidarity, a resonance chamber of resistance. And the city and its citizenships are never fixed or finished, but are constantly being crafted, voiced, and made audible at street level.The Active Citizens Sound Archive contains pieces and projects which speak to these ideas.

National Phonography

My doctoral research project explored how ethnographic sound recordings were used to construct nations and borders in postwar Europe, and how histories of migration were silenced in the process. I've published a handful of articles and chapters that tell this history, tracing a continental and colonial trade of sounds and ideas, and showing how sonic citizenries were constructed and contested.

Part 1 η πάλη η πόλη - the struggle the city from Theatrum Mundi on Vimeo.


Part 2 στρογγυλή συμφωνία from Theatrum Mundi on Vimeo.


Part 3 σαν τοσους πολλους χορους - like so many dances from Theatrum Mundi on Vimeo.


Producing public-facing research is a key part of my work. I am currently involved in the following projects and collaborations:

I have also produced numerous sound pieces and audio documentaries, and am currently preparing radio programmes and museum installations based on my work with colleagues in Athens.

I teach on the MSc in Global Migration and on modules across the BA/BSc in Geography:


GEOG0015 Global Events (lecturer)

GEOG0150 Space and Society (lecturer)

GEOG0151 Thinking Geographically I (tutor)


GEOG0167 Migratory Activisms, Creative Citizenships (course convenor)

GEOG0127 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Migration (lecturer)

I have previously taught at the universities of Oslo, Oxford and Edinburgh – at the latter I was shortlisted for the ‘Best Overall Teacher’ prize at the Edinburgh University Students’ Association Teaching Awards in 2018.

I'm a new lecturer at UCL and am currently undertaking training in research supervision. I am not yet able to be primary supervisor on doctoral projects, but am very happy to hear from prospective students with related research interests to discuss possible supervision arrangements with me as second supervisor.