The everyday lives of homeless migrants in urban railway stations

Student stands out against red background
William Haynes
PhD student
Supervised by Professor Richard Phillips
Seen and unseen: homeless migrants at Stazione Termini in Rome.

Will’s primary research interest is the everyday lives of homeless migrants working, living, and sleeping in urban railway stations, with his thesis focusing on Termini station in Rome. Building on debates around Europe’s spaces of exclusion and marginality, his research presents an in-depth examination into the various mobile logics that shape the lives of those who inhabit the station. As spaces of contact and settlement for marginalised groups in society, railway stations are often understood as venues for undesirable activity, potentially feared, and purposely not ‘seen’ by portions of society. Will recognises the station as a key site of visibility and mobility for displaced people in a contemporary context of rising anti-immigrant sentiment and exclusionary urbanism that variably ‘invisibilises’ migrants. At the station, we witness migrants ‘making do’ and establishing lives for themselves, sometimes clandestinely, and often alongside informal organisations who create spaces of care in the absence of anything else.

PhD thesis

Working title: Seen and unseen: homeless migrants at Stazione Termini in Rome

Supervisors: Professor Richard Phillips, Ryan Powell

Research interests

  • Forced migration and refugees
  • Everyday life in the city
  • Mobilities
  • Ethnography and creative writing
  • Railways in fiction

Scholarships and prizes

  • AHRC White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH) PhD scholarship 2019
  • Nick Wellings Prize for Geography 2016, University of Birmingham


Bialasiewicz, L. & Haynes, W. (2019) ‘Charity, hospitality, tolerance? Religious organizations and the changing vocabularies of migrant assistance in Rome’. In (eds.) Bialasiewicz, L. & Gentile, G. Spaces of Tolerance: Changing Geographies and Philosophies of Religion in Today’s Europe. Routledge: Oxon, pp. 197-220.

Conference papers and presentations

  • ‘Homo sacer in the city’. Cities, Identities & Borders Winter School, Royal Netherlands Institute of Rome, Rome, November 2017


Academic year 2019/2020

  • GEO3003 – Decolonising Geographies (postgraduate teaching assistant)


  • MA European Studies, University of Amsterdam  2017 - Cum laude
  • BA (Hons) Geography, University of Birmingham 2016 - Class I

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