Dr Tom Western

Early Career Fellow in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies

Tom Western is an ethnomusicologist researching the relations between sound, borders, displacements and citizenships. His current research centres on Athens, Greece, and at the RSC he will be working on a project titled ‘Aural Borders, Audible Displacements: Sound and Citizenship in Athens’. This sits at the intersections of forced migration studies, ethnomusicology, sound studies and anthropology.

Tom’s doctoral research explored how sound recordings were used to construct nations and borders in postwar Europe, and how migration was silenced in the process. His first book – National Phonography: Field Recording, Sound Archiving, and Producing the Nation in Music – is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic Press in 2019. He has also published in the journals Sound Studies, Twentieth-Century Music, Ethnomusicology Forum, and in several edited books. Outside of academia, Tom is an association member of a grassroots refugee community centre in Athens, and plays in a band with musicians from Syria, Nigeria and Greece in the same city.

Aural borders, audible migrations: Sound and citizenship in Athens

Tom teaches an option on ‘Writing and Representing Refugee Lives’ for the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.

Research Students supervised

Books and monographs

Western, Tom (forthcoming) 'National Phonography: Field Recording, Sound Archiving, and Producing the Nation in Music', New York: Bloomsbury Academic

Journal articles and special issues

Western, Tom (with Annette Davison, Tom Wagner) (eds) (forthcoming) 'Special Issue: Radio and Ethnomusicology: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives', Ethnomusicology Forum
Western, Tom (forthcoming) 'Introduction: Radio and Ethnomusicology', Ethnomusicology Forum
Western, Tom (forthcoming) 'Aural Borders, Aural Bordering', Twentieth-Century Music 15 (3)


Western, Tom (forthcoming) 'Sounding the Shelter, Voicing the Squat: Sonic Politics of Refugee Shelter in Athens'. In Tom Scott-Smith, Mark E. Breeze (eds) Structures of Protection: Rethinking Refugee Shelter
Western, Tom (2018) 'Field Recording and the Production of Place'. In Samantha Bennett, Eliot Bates (eds) Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound , New York: Bloomsbury Academic
Western, Tom (2018) 'National Phonography in the Musical Past: Empire, Archive, and Overlapping Musical Migrations in Britain'. In Elaine Kelly, Derek Scott, and Markus Mantere (eds) Confronting the National in the Musical Past , New York: Routledge

Other publications

Western, Tom (with Said Azim Karimi, Muhammad Sukarno Kurdi, Georgios Sourmelis, and Sofia Zafeiriou) (2017) 'ΤΣΣΣΣ ΤΣΣΣ ΤΣΣ ΣΣΣ: Summer in Athens – A Sound Essay', In Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh. (ed) Representations of Displacement
Research interests:

Anthropology of borders; lived experiences of displacement; music and sound studies; sensory ethnography; Greece; citizenship studies; migrant activisms