I am an environmental and political geographer interested in toxic geographies, border violence, and environmental justice. I joined the University of Nottingham in September 2018 from the University of Warwick, where I worked on an ERC funded project called 'Toxic Expertise'. I have previously taught Human Geography the University of Birmingham.
My research examines social injustice at a range of scales and contexts, with a particular interest in toxic landscapes and border violence. My work has been published in academic journals including Antipode, Political Geography, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, Geography Compass, Geoforum, Professional Geographer, and the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, and I have written about my research in media outlets, including the Guardian and the Independent.
I am interested in the politics of informal and irregular migration into Europe and I am currently working on an Antipode Foundation 'Scholar-Activist' project looking at border violence against refugees trapped in the Balkans: "Fragile resistance on the EU border: the peaceful geographies of the refugee crisis". I am also working on an ESRC funded project researching UK government responses to small boat Channel Crossings. I recently completed a UKRI funded 'Rapid Response' project looking at the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the UK waste sector. In addition, I continue to write about the slow violence of pollution in various toxic geographies.
I serve on the editorial board of The SAGE Handbook of Global Social Theory, edited by Gurminder K. Bhambra et al. I previously co-edited Toxic News (2015-2018), a quarterly e-magazine about toxic pollution in everyday life. I recently co-edited of a Special Issue of Emotion, Space and Society titled 'Reclaiming failure in geography' (2021) [available here]. I am also Membership Officer of the 'Waste, Pollution and Toxicities' RGS-IBG Working Group.
My first co-edited book 'Toxic Truths: Environmental Justice and Citizen Science in a Post Truth Age' was published in 2020 with Prof. Alice Mah (Manchester University Press):
My pronouns are he/him. Twitter here | Google Scholar here.
My work regularly appears in the media, including interviews with BBC Future, the Guardian, and Newsweek. I occasionally write newspapers articles, Op-Eds, and academic blogs.
You can listen to an interview with me on Surviving Society podcast here: Racialised EU border violence, 2021.
Media publications include:
Policy Engagement and Impact
After co-producing the first public health investigation of a European refugee camp: 'An Environmental Health Assessment of the New Migrant Camp in Calais' (2015) alongside Surindar Dhesi and Arshad Isakjee, I provided written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Migration, including the 'Migration crisis inquiry' (2015) [available here] and Commons Select Committee 'European responses to irregular migration' (2019) [available here]. I have also submitted evidence to the 'International Development Committee inquiry into the effects of COVID-19 on developing countries and those hosting refugees' (2020) [available here], for the the Department of International Development (DFID). At the EU level, I have presented ongoing research about border violence to MEPs and members of the European Commission in Brussels. The interdisciplinary research about about Covid-19 and the waste industry has contributed to the report: 'UK Waste Sector COVID-19 Response and Resilience Report' (CIWM 2020).
I do an enormous amount of teaching across a wide range of modules. These include:
Globalisation: Economy, Power and Space | Techniques in Human Geography | Exploring Human Geography | Research Tutorials | Dissertation Supervision | Dissertation Preparation | Political Geography | Health Geography | First Year Tutorials | the Lake District Field trip | Project in Environmental Leadership and Management | and People and the Environment (MSc core module conveynor)
I welcome PhD prospective candidates interested in any area of research. I am particularly interested in supervising PhD projects focusing on the following subjects: Toxic Geographies | No Borders Activism | Environmental justice | Critical Migration | Refugees | Violent geographies | Slow violence
Current PhD students:
Externally Funded Research Projects
- 2022-2025 'Channel Crossing: Irregular journeys, policies and politics in the English Channel' ESRC [Project Website], Co-I (£584,000)
- 2021-2022 'Modern Slavery Risk GEOBarometer: Supporting Transparency in Supply Chains and Due Diligence' UK Space Agency, Co-I (£502,050)
- 2020-2021: 'Waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak: investigating a critical sector in crisis' ESRC "UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19", Co-I (£271,000)
- 2019- 2021: 'Fragile Resistance on the EU Borderzone: The Peaceful Geographies of the Refugee Crisis' Antipode Foundation Scholar Activist Project [Working alongside activist-group No Name Kitchen] Co-PI (£10,000)
- 2015-2016: 'Environmental Health in the Calais Refugee Camp' ESRC Impact Accelerator. Co-PI (£5,000)
- 2014: 'From Chernobyl to Fukushima: the social fallout of Japan's nuclear meltdown' Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) PI (£6,000)
'Channel Crossings: offshoring asylum and the afterlife of empire in the Dover Strait'
This recent Ethnic and Racial Studies article [available Open Access here] explores responses to irregular crossings of the English Channel in small boats, fantasies of offshoring, and legacies of colonialism at the UK border. It's the first academic output from the ESRC funded 'Channel Crossings' project, with an interdisciplinary team including Dr Arshad Isakjee (University of Liverpool), Dr Joe Turner (University of York) and Dr Lucy Mayblin (University of Sheffield).
Snapshot from the field:
Above: a pre-Covid photograph from fieldwork in Bosnia for the Antipode Foundation Scholar Activist Project, as discussed in The Independent, here.
THOM DAVIES, ARSHAD ISAKJEE and JELENA OBRADOVIC-WOCHNIK, 2022. Epistemic Borderwork: Violent Pushbacks, Refugees, and the Politics of Knowledge at the EU Border Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 169-188 THOM DAVIES, ARSHAD ISAKJEE, LUCY MAYBLIN and JOE TURNER, 2021. Channel crossings: offshoring asylum and the afterlife of empire in the Dover Strait Ethnic and Racial Studies.
ARSHAD ISAKJEE, THOM DAVIES, JELENA OBRADOVIC-WOCHNIK and KAROLINA AUGUSTOVA, 2020. Liberal Violence and the Racial Borders of the European Union Antipode. 1-23
If you would like to collaborate with me on a research idea, writing project, or any other initiative, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
No academic is an island, and I've had the privilege of working alongside some fantastic people and organisations.
These include Arshad Isakjee (University of Liverpool), Angeliki Balayannis (University of Exeter), Alice Mah (University of Warwick), Becky Alexis-Martin (Manchester Metropolitan University), Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik (Aston University), Surindar Dhesi (University of Birmingham), Tom Disney (Northumbria University), Elly Harrowell (Coventry University), Joe Turner (University of York) , Lucy Mayblin (University of Sheffield), Doctors of the World, and the grassroots activist movement No Name Kitchen, among many others. I am also indebted to the hundreds of research participants and communities who have informed my work over the years.