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Tom Western

TomWestern-10m.jpgDr Tom Western


Twitter: @tom_western


Address: Room G08, UCL Dept of Geography, 26 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AP

Student hours: For term 2, my ASF hours are Mondays 2-3pm (online) and Fridays 3-5pm (in person). Please follow the link here to book a meeting.





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 – usually 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: Writing Anticolonial Mediterranean Futures from Athens. The book writes in circles and circulations, gathering imaginations of the city and the sea, and mapping ways out of the linear histories and geographies of empire. It focuses on how movements move: how activisms travel, circulate, migrate; how citizenship struggles shuttle from place to place; how resistances resonate across radical trajectories. It tells of how new Athenian publics creatively contest the racialised logics of borders and citizenship regimes, and remake urban space through relational geographies and anticolonial imaginations. Athens – the city so often claimed as Euro-civilizational origin point and symbol of superiority – is remade here through Mediterranean relations, a city that contains other cities, that contains multiple and migratory citizenships. The book draws new cartographies based on circular movements. The result is a transformation of Mediterranean migrations, citizenships, and questions of spatial justice.

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 am soon to be a Co-I on the project 'Soundscapes of Trauma: Music, Sound, and the Ethics of Witnessing' (ERC Consolidator Grant led by Dr Anna Papaeti). 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: Writing Anticolonial Mediterranean Futures from Athens


Special Issues

Forthcoming, 2024. ‘Sound Carries: Coloniality, Race, and the Spatial Politics of Representation’, co-edited with Tariq Jazeel. Social Text.

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


Journal Articles

In revision. 'Circular Movements: Migratory Citizenships in Anticolonial Athens'.

Under review. 'The Spill, the Fold, the Spiral: Undercartographies Against the Border'

In preparation. 'Anticolonial Antiphonies: Mapping Sonic Geographies of Contestation in the Eastern Mediterranean' (co-written with Sara Salem).

2023. 'Covered Mouths Still Have Voices'. Journal of Sonic Studies, 24, special issue on 'Voice and Listening as Techniques of Political Life'. Open access at:

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

2023. ‘Rhythm – Relay – Relation: Anticolonial Media Activisms in Athens’. In Postcolonial Publics: Art and Citizen Media in Europe, ed. Bolette Blaagaard, Sabrina Marchetti, Sandra Pozanesi, and Shaul Bassi. Venice: Ca’ Foscari University Press, pp.21-38. Open access at:

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 2022 include setting up an Citizen Media Lab in Athens to develop our work.



And this video is a discussion I co-organised with the Onassis Centre and with the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum. It gathers together organisers and educators, artists and activists to reimagine questions of citizenship in Athens:

Full info here:

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

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)
  • GEOG0039 Migration and Transnationalism (lecturer)
  • GEOG0151 Thinking Geographically I & II (tutor)


  • GEOG0127 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Migration (lecturer and course convener)
  • GEOG0167 Migratory Activisms, Creative Citizenships (lecturer and course convener)

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.