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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  Alan Latham

Professor Alan Latham

Alan-Latham.jpgUndergraduate Exam Tutor

UCL Department of Geography
Room G19, North-West Wing
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Internal Extension: 30525
Phone: +44 (0)20 7679 0525
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 0565


Office hours:
Monday 3.00-5.00 PM
Wednesday 10.00-11.00 AM
No office hours in reading week

1990 BA (Economics and Geography) Massey University
1992 MA (Human Geography), Massey University
1997 PhD, University of Bristol
1996-1997 DAAD Visiting Research Fellow, Technische Universität Berlin
1997-1999 NZFoRST Research Fellow, University of Auckland
1999-2006 Lecturer in Geography, University of Southampton
2006-2010 Lecturer in Geography, UCL
2010- Senior Lecturer in Geography, UCL

Click here for Publications.


    I am an urban geographer. My research focuses on three key areas:

    1. Sociality and urban life. I am interested in the everyday patterns of sociality through which urban dwellers go about “making a world” (Hannerz 1980) for themselves in the city. Perhaps because it is often playful and just plain banal, sociality has frequently been taken for granted or overlooked by mainstream social science. It has been left to inspired mavericks like Simmel, Goffman and Garfinkel to study the patterns and dynamics of sociality. Drawing on these writers and that of contemporary researchers like Pahl and Maffesoli I have through research projects in Berlin, London and Auckland been exploring the socialities through which a range of distinctive urban cultures emerge and are maintained. I am interested in the unique – if often fragile – bonds of solidarity that urban sociality generates.
    2. Globalization and the cultural economy of cities. If sociality is at the core of the urban experience, so too is globalization. Cities are places where different cultures and ideas rub together and generate all sorts of new hybrids. Parallel to my interest in sociality, a second focus of my research is on the small scale and intimate levels of this mixing. I look at the ways that people incorporate previously alien materials and practices into their day-to-day existence, and how these materials are employed in reconfiguring existing social relationships. I am particularly interested in the key role played by certain cultural entrepreneurs – and the networks they build – in facilitating and managing these processes of translation and movement.
    3. Corporeal mobility. Globalisation is about the movement of materials, images, ideas and people across international borders. All sorts of other forms mobility also define the contemporary city. My third research interest focuses on the intersection between these two facts. I am interested in the ways which certain internationally mobile individuals and groups use globalization – and the transportation and communication networks that sustain it – to create life-projects that are strung across enormous distances. Drawing on the work of Ong, Raj, M. P. Smith, and others I am interested in exploring the mundane, quite ordinary, relationships and practices through which educated migrants to world cities like London negotiate their way through the city. A particular focus is on the role of friendship networks and personal relationships in configuring people’s movement.


    Research Grants


    DAAD Junior Academic Research Grant for Practical Knowledge and Experiencing Urban Space: an empirical study of a district in Berlin, £2,955.00


    New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology grant for Auckland’s Changing Urbanities: the making and enacting of a new urban culture, £58,494.00


    Royal Geographical Society and HSBC grant for Antipodean Transnationals: New Zealand migrants in London, £1,800.00

    2012-2013 The Spaces of Recreational running, UCL ‘Bridging the Gaps’ Fund 2011, with Dr Russell Hitchings (Department of Geography UCL), Dr Courtney Kipps (Department of Sports Medicine, UCL), £4,500
    2014-2016 Formas, Swedish Research Council, Reinterpreting Fitness Running. Co-investigator. Principle investigator Prof Mattias Qvistrom, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. 4,400,000 Swedish krona.

    I have been involved in a diverse array of knowledge transfer activity. Drawing on my expertise in migration I have (with Prof. John Salt and Dr Janet Dobson) been involved in consultancy work for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Home Office. For the EHRC we provided a literature review of work on the impact of economic recession on migration to the UK, and undertook a statistical analysis of the relationship between migration flows and economic growth and unemployment. This material formed a substantial part of a major report published by the EHRC on the potential impact of the current recession on Britain’s migrant communities, Immigration and the Labour Market: Theory Evidence and Policy. The report was launched in March 2009 by the Secretary of State for Community and Local Government the Honourable Hazel Blears. Drawing in the work for the EHRC, Prof. Salt, Dr Dobson, and I were asked to provide a discussion paper for the independent policy think tank The Policy Network on how past recessions have impacted on migrant flows. Our paper On the Move? Labour Migration in Times of Recession was the centre piece of a symposium organised by the Policy Network in London in June 2009. The summary of our findings were reported in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. For the Home Office we produced the statistical summaries and commentaries for the 2009 Eurostat report on migration and refugee flows to the United Kingdom.

    My work on running and physical fitness has been reported in the Independent Newspaper. My work on middling transnational migrants is cited in a recent (2006) Polish Government report on migration from Poland, Poradnictwo transnacjonalne: Cele i metody międzykulturowego, and the UK Department of for Transport (2006) report Social Networks and Future Mobilities. While my work on Auckland’s new urban cultures was extensively reported in The New Zealand Herald (New Zealand’s leading daily newspaper) and in a number of hospitality industry publications. I was also interviewed for Radio New Zealand and a number of local Auckland Radio stations.

    Undergraduate teaching

    • Course 2023 Urban Geography (convenor)
    • Course 3058 Berlin Fieldclass (convenor)

    Graduate teaching

    • GEOGG004 Thinking Space
    • GEOGG201 Approaches to Global Migration: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
    • GEOGG202 Issues in Global Migration
    • URBNG001 Urban Imaginations
    • URBNG002 Cities Space and Power
    • URBNG005: Public Space and the City (convenor)


    Current PhD Students

    • Donald Poland, The urbanization of older suburban centres, self funded.
    • Anna Plyushteva,Urban Transport Megaprojects and Everyday Life: Domesticating Metropolitan Rail in Sofia, ESRC studentship.
    • Tauri Tuvikene, Automobility and Post-Socialist Urbanism, Archimedes Foundation.


    Completed UCL

    Primary Supervisor

    • Andrew Banfield, Spectatorship, virtual stadiums, and mass sporting events, self funded.
    • Regan Koch, Reanimating urban public spaces, ESRC studentship
    • Darya Malyutina, Russian Migrants in London, ORS funded.


    Secondary Supervisor

    • Patricia Simoes Aelbrecht , How can urban design contribute to the Sociology of the city and its public spaces?August (Bartlett)
    • Gemma Moore, Urban open space and its contribution to sustainable communities (Bartlett)

    Completed PhDUniversity of Southampton

    • Eleanor Pryce – Evaluating the potential impact of road user charging in Southampton. Funded by the Southampton City Council. Co-supervisor with Prof Steven Pinch. ., Sept 2003- Sept 2006. Completed 2008.
    • Al Darmaki, Ibrahim Abdul Rahman – Globalisation and urban development: a case study of Dubai’s Jumeirah Palm Island mega project.. Co-supervised with Prof Steven Pinch., Sept 2003- Sept 2006. Completed November 2008.
    • Graham Turner – Home working and corporate change. Funded by the ESRC part time student fund. Co-supervisor with Prof Steven Pinch.  Completed 2005.