Personal profile

Research interests

Thomas Swerts is an Assistant Professor in Urban Sociology at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Before joining EUR in 2018, he was a post-doctoral researcher and visiting professor at the Universiteit Antwerpen, the Université de Liège and the KU Leuven. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

At the Erasmus University Rotterdam, he is a member of the Team Policy, Politics and Society led by Prof. dr. Peter Scholten and he serves as the coordinator of the Sociology Master Track Urban Issues and Policy (Grootstedelijke Vraagstukken en Beleid;

He is an affiliated researcher at the LDE Center of  Governance of Migration and Diversity and the LDE Center for BOLD Cities, where he currently co-coordinates a Team Science Project on Urban Digital Twins (TWIRL; He is a member of the Educational Committee Sociology and also teaches courses in the Bachelor in Sociology and the Master in Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD).

His research focuses on the nexus between urban studies and migration studies. His book project, 'Citizen X: Becoming Undocumented Activists On Both Sides Of The Atlantic’, is a transatlantic ethnographic study that compares the processes and practices through which undocumented youth in Chicago and the sans-papiers in Brussels became political activists. As a researcher, he is primarily specialized in ethnographic methods, participatory action research and in-depth interviewing.

For his recently awarded NWO Vidi Project URBIMM (URBan migration infrastructures for Irregular Migrant Mobility, 2024-2029), he and his research team will investigate how migration infrastructures locally facilitate the arrival, transit, settlement and exit of undocumented migrants in European cities (see 

He has previously been awarded grants by the SSRC, NSF and the Mellon Foundation. He has published in academic journals like Global Networks, Mobilization, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Antipode, Social Inclusion and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies ( He has also contributed to edited volumes on citizenship studies, immigrant rights mobilization, research ethics and relational poverty politics.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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