If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


My research concerns the lives of those living at the sharp end of the current hostile politics surrounding asylum and migration. Through long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Manchester, I have explored how people seeking asylum encounter the opaque bureaucratic structures of the Home Office and its subcontractors in the private and third sectors. My research draws out the patterns of coercive control to which people are subjected, as well as the ways in which people strive to move forward with their lives while stuck in limbo, and the fragile networks of care that sustain lives through years of legal struggle and extended periods of destitution.   

Through my involvement in a Manchester-based Migration and Destitution Action Group, I have been involved in setting up a Migrant Destitution Fund. Established at the outset of the pandemic, the fund seeks to mitigate destitution among those who are denied the right to work or access benefits on the basis of their immigration status.

My previous research was much further afield - in the Aral Sea region of Kazakhstan, where I traced how the sea's dramatic regression over the second half of the twentieth century, and its recent partial restoration, have been entangled with the demise of state socialism and Kazakhstan's postsocialist transformation. Complicating images of environmental disaster for which the region is famous, I followed the fluctuating fortunes of the fishing industry, which have not mapped neatly onto sea levels, to draw out the multiple meanings of environmental change. Environment and post-Soviet transformation in Kazakhstan's Aral Sea region: Sea changes will be published in autumn 2021 by UCL Press.

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 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • asylum
  • refugees
  • bureaucracy
  • destitution
  • care
  • Aral Sea
  • environmental change
  • disaster
  • fisheries
  • post-Soviet


Dive into the research topics where William Wheeler is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles