Dr Tom Sykes
I am both a theorist and practitioner of journalism and narrative nonfiction. My main focus in recent years has been the Philippines, having both reported from the country for newspapers and magazines, and written academically about its culture, politics and society. My most recent book, Imagining Manila: Literature, Empire and Orientalism (Bloomsbury/IB Tauris), uses the theoretical frameworks of Orientalism and cultural materialism to critique three centuries of Western journalism, travel writing and realist fiction on Manila. It has received good reviews, been endorsed by leading scholars and prompted invitations to lecture at the Universities of Oxford, Sydney and Hawai’i.
In 2018, I published The Realm of the Punisher (Signal Books), a 'political travelogue' of the Philippines which, according to the Times Literary Supplement, ‘conveys in an affectionate, unpatronizing tone the many layers of injustice that run through the Philippines, and uses interviews and site visits to try to explain the eccentric ways and popular appeal of its more muscular leaders.’
In 2022, I was awarded a Commendation in the 2022 Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence for “the inspiring commitment demonstrated to your students, involvement in the local literary community and your contributions to local, national and global journalism.”
I am a regular contributor to Private Eye, Britain's biggest selling political magazine, and have written for New Statesman, The Scotsman, The Telegraph, Morning Star, New Internationalist, Monocle, New African, Red Pepper, Travel Africa, South East Asia Globe and numerous print and digital media around the world.
My academic articles have appeared in Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, A Global History of Literature and the Environment (Cambridge University Press), Supernatural Cities (Boydell and Brewer), The Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Social Identities, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction and Children’s Literature Review.
I have co-edited a collection of political journalism and five anthologies of travel stories. The first, No Such Thing as a Free Ride? (Cassell Illustrated), was serialised in The Times and named The Observer’s Travel Book of the Month. I am one of the founding editors of Star & Crescent, a hyperlocal community news, culture and commentary website focusing on the Portsmouth area. Star & Crescent has published a great deal of writing and visual art by University staff, students and alumni.
My upcoming book, Coast of Teeth, is a collaboration with UoP’s Course Leader for Illustration, Dr Louis Netter, and has received an endorsement from novelist Will Self.
I am Course Leader for BA Global Communication and Media and the module coordinator for Professional Writing, Travel Writing and Finding Form: Nonfiction. I am available to supervise creative or critical PhD projects in the areas of journalism, memoir, reportage, Philippines studies, postcolonial literature and critical media studies.
My broad research interests include:
- Creative nonfiction
- Travel writing
- Literary journalism
- Feature journalism
- Postcolonial literature and history
- Asian Studies
- Historical materialism
- The New Wave of Science Fiction
My PhD and my latest book, Imagining Manila, addressed the following theoretical issues:
- The formal strategies of the autobiographical travelogue
- The ethics and politics of representing the Oriental 'other' in the Philippines
- The construction of Chinese Filipinos as a 'supranational stereotype' shaped by Western attitudes to Chinese within the Filipinos, Chinese immigration to the West and the changing geopolitical role of China
- The representation of Manila as a hell-like, supernatural textual space informed by Hispanophobia, religious bigotry and 'Third World Blues' (Pratt)
- The late 19th/early 20th century colonial adventure novel's deployment of rhetorical devices to sanitise, ignore or justify US misconduct in the Philippine-American War
- The hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance of Western state-corporate media coverage of the contemporary Duterte regime
I have published journalism on a wide variety of foreign affairs from 'the architecture of power' in the Ivory Coast to expatriate life in Southeast Asia, Indian nationalism to sustainable development in Ghana.