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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








I'm a Lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography, having joined UCL in 2020. My teaching and research centre on movements and migrations, cities and citizenships, relations and imaginations, activisms and anticolonialisms – working with methods that foreground sound and voice. I work primarily in Athens, Greece, where I study and contribute to migratory activisms and creative citizenship movements. I am a member of the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum (SGYF), with whom I run the Active Citizens Sound Archive – a space for amplifying citizenship work, youth activism, community mobilising, and collective research and knowledge production. I am also a member of the ‘Memory – Monuments’ working group of Decolonize Hellas, developing anticolonial approaches to culture, history, and questions of citizenship in the Greek context.

I am currently writing a book titled Circular Movements: Migratory Citizenships in Athens. The book focuses on how movements move: how activisms travel, circulate, migrate; how citizenship struggles shuttle from place to place; how resistances resonate across anticolonial geographies and radical trajectories. It hears how people in Athens creatively contest the logics of borders and citizenship regimes, reimagining questions of being and belonging in the city, and remaking citizenships against citizenship. This plays out across chapters on dances, poems, relation, radio, mobile histories, anticolonial imaginations, and more. Through this, Athens emerges as a testing ground of activisms, a song of solidarities, an amplifier of demands, an abundance of languages. The book draws new cartographies of citizenship – thinking in circular movements (see my recent essay, 'Notes on an Anticolonial Athens', for more on these ideas).

I convene the postgraduate courses Migratory Activisms, Creative Citizenships and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Migration, and the undergraduate course Space and Society. I also teach on the undergraduate courses Global Events and Migration and Transnationalism.

I 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, I graduated with degrees in music and cultural studies from the Universities of Liverpool and Edinburgh, completing an AHRC-funded PhD at the latter in 2016.



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 to date asks how borders are produced and contested through culture. I have worked primarily with sound – both as medium and method – as I listen to the connections between culture and citizenship, activism and audibility, the political voice and the politics of space.

I'm currently writing a series of things on relation, echo, imagination, and geographies of contestation.

I am committed to collaborative and creative methods. The video below is the latest result of an ongoing collaboration with the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum. Our plans for 2021/22 include setting up an Active Citizens Media Lab to develop our work.



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


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.



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


GEOG0150 Space and Society (lecturer and course convener)

GEOG0015 Global Events (lecturer)

GEOG0151 Thinking Geographically I (tutor)


GEOG0127 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Migration (lecturer and course convener)

GEOG0167 Migratory Activisms, Creative Citizenships (lecturer and course convener)


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.