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Thomas Sigler

Adresse postale Université du Luxembourg
2, Avenue de l'Université
L-4365 Esch-sur-Alzette

Visiting Researcher

I am an economic and urban geographer interested in (a) how globalisation shapes cities, and (b) how cities and urban space are shaped by globalisation. The first of these themes focusses on ‘the global economy’ and how various firms, institutions, and industries are distributed across space. This focusses on both existing geographies as well as change, as the shifting global economy has dynamic consequences. The second of these focusses more concretely on cities and the dynamics within them. My interest ranges from urban development to ethnic settlement patterns to mobility. All of this ties back to globalisation, however, insofar as new socio-technical systems lend themselves to rapid change, which manifests most visibly in cities.

My doctoral thesis focussed on the ‘relational city’ concept, which theorised a distinct class of cities whose global relevance is assumed, but whose economic and social structures are fundamentally reliant on intermediary functions such as logistics, transport, and warehousing rather than manufacturing or advanced producer services. This research began in Panama City, but has incorporated Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, and most recently Luxembourg City as a case study site for relational cities research.

My more recent research focusses on economic networks, and how these shape urban and territorial development. This research applies spatial analysis and social network analysis (SNA) and I was recently awarded an Australian Research Council grant to further this work on global economic networks through 2019. I supervise a number of PhD projects in these research areas, and have active collaborations with partners in Australia, Europe, and Asia.

Last updated on: mercredi 18 janvier 2017

Current Position

Since 10 July 2012: Lecturer in Human Geography at The University of Queensland


2011: Ph.D. Geography, Pennsylvania State University

2007: M.S. Geography, Pennsylvania State University

2005: B.A. Geography & International Relations, University of Southern California

Professional Experience

2017 Visiting Researcher,University of Luxembourg, Institute for Geography and Spatial Planning

2011-2012 Visiting Assistant Professor of Geography, Gustavus Adolphus College

2010: Visiting Scholar, Instituto de Estudios Nacionales, Universidad de Panamá

2008-2009:Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geography

  • Urban Affairs Association
  • Institute of Australian Geographers
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Royal Geographical Society of Queensland
  • Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo)
Editorial Functions
  • Member of the Editorial Board of “Urban Geography”
  • Co-Editor of a special issue in “Australian Geographer” on economic geography

Applied Geography; Architectural Science Review; Environment and Planning A; Communication, Culture, and Critique; Geoforum; Geographical Research; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research-IJURR International Sociology; Journal of the American Planning Association-JAPA; Journal of Urban Affairs; Land Use Policy; Regional Studies; Sage Publishing; Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography; State of Australian Cities conference proceedings;  Sustainability; Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie; Urban Affairs Review; Urban Geography; Urban Policy and Research; Urban Studies; WH Freeman Publishers

Last updated on: 12 jan 2017


1.      The resource economies of Australian cities. This project focusses on the ways in which Australian cities are embedded within broader economic networks. Though global in scope, these networks have very specific vectors connecting places based on the strategic advantages they deliver to firms and industries. This project takes data from corporate lists across multiple public directories and uses within-firm geographical structures to extrapolate larger geographic structures. These are then examined by industry, with a specific view to understand how resources firms – specifically energy and materials sectors – tie together Australian cities and overseas counterparts. Implications for spatial and economic planning are critical outcomes of this project. This is currently funded by the Australian Research Council through 2019.

2.      The relational city. The relational city is one whose primary function is transitive rather than static. In other words, in contrast to an industrial city (which produces ‘things’), or a global city (whose importance is attributed to ‘command and control’ within hierarchical networks), relational cities’ core function is a bridging one. Relational cities are sites of convergence, incorporating logistical/transport functions, multicultural business environments, and often spanning multiple socio-political systems. The relational city theme is what connects my doctoral work in Panama to research on Dubai and Hong Kong, and most recently on Luxembourg.

3.      Global property markets. Housing affordability in many cities has reached crisis levels. As housing, which is a fundamental human right, is transformed into a good for consumption, globalisation has altered many urban markets rendering accommodation a basic issue for local populations. To date neither geographical nor economic theory has adequately addressed the issue. I have a number of PhD students working on housing issues and continue to be interested in the property markets from theoretical and empirical perspectives. 

4.      Ethnic settlements and communities. Migration has rendered cities more diverse than ever. Migrants bring with them new perspectives and skillsets and create richness within the urban fabric. Furthermore, the children of migrants often share characteristics of their parents’ cultures, including religious, cultural, social, and linguistic practices. However, urban diversity is not universally perceived to be positive, as segregation can have negative effects.  My interest in this research stream therefore stems from delineating between the benefits of urban ethnic diversity and the negative outcomes resulting from segregation. Australia is a particularly fruitful location for this research as its major cities are amongst the most diverse on earth.

5.      The gig economy. This is a new interest of mine, but one that cannot be ignored by geographers for long. The advent of house-sharing and ride-sharing has afforded us greater mobility than ever, allowing you to immediately be ‘home’ in a new city or to have a personal driver at the push of a button. Practically, this has rationalised resources in what is referred to as the ‘sharing economy’, but in reality has brought with it a number of labour, ethical, and regulatory issues to which there is no black-and-white solution.



“World Cities or Globalised Systems?  The Networks of ASX-listed Firms”, Institute of Australian Geographers Annual Conference, Adelaide, June 2016.

“Coordinated Collaborative Governance or Neoliberal Government? Questioning how “Committees for” transform Australian Cities”, Urban Theory Symposium”, Western Sydney University, April 2016.

“One City, Many Networks: Brisbane’s Global Position within multiple flows”, State of Australian Cities conference, Gold Coast, December 2015.

“Command, control, or coordinate?  Identifying regionally scaled networks using firm-level data”, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago, April 2015.

“How applicable are universalising urban land use models? A comparative analysis of Australian industries by city”, Knowledge/Creative/Economy Conference, The University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, November 2014.

“Australian Cities in a Global Urban Network:  Multi-Locational Firms as Relational Agents”, Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geography Annual Meeting, London, August 2014.

“Proxy for Global Cities or Cities of Global Production? A Comparative Analysis of Australian Corporate Geographies”, Institute of Australian Geographers Annual Meeting, Melbourne, July 2014.

“Spatial mobility patterns of overseas graduates in Australia” (with Tang AZR, Rowe Gonzales F, and Corcoran J.  Brisbane, June 2014.

“A Multi-scalar Analysis of Industrial Agglomeration in Australian Cities”, Australia-New Zealand Regional Science Conference, Hervey Bay, December 2013.

“Corporate clustering in Australian cities:  An analysis of the geographic distribution of ASX-listed headquarters”, State of Australian Cities conference, Sydney, November 2013.

“The Gentrification of Panama City’s Casco Antiguo”, Institute of Australian Geographers Annual Meeting, Perth, July 2013.

“The Relational City:  Panama City in the 21st Century”, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, April 2013.

“Navigating the Intermediary City: Explaining Rapid Urban Growth in Panama City, Panama”, Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, April 2013.

 “Globalising Australian Cities:  An Overview”.  Australia-New Zealand Regional Science Conference, Wollongong, December 2012.

Explaining Rapid Urban and Economic Growth in Panama City, Panama”, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, New York, February 2012

 “Neoliberal development in a neocolonial context: An overview of Special Economic Zones in Panama”, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Seattle, April 2011

Last updated on: 18 jan 2017

Balaji M. and Sigler, TJ (Forthcoming), Glocal Riddim: The Political Economy of Multi-Scalar Territorial Identity in Caribbean Music Videos,Visual Communication(Accepted 12 October 2015)

Sigler TJ and Martinus K (2016). Urban positionality in a global system: economic linkages through the Australia-based corporate network.Environment and Planning A, DOI: 10.1177/0308518X16659478

Sigler TJ (2016) After the World City has Globalised: Toward a Nuanced Ontology of World City Research.Geography Compass10(9), 389-398

Albandoz R, Brothers T, Dixon S, Escamilla I, Scarpaci J, Sigler TJ (2016) ‘Cities of Middle America’ in Brunn S.D., Hays-Mitchell M., and Ziegler D.J. (eds.),Cities of the World:  World Regional Urban Development, 6th Edition, Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Martinus K and Sigler TJ (2016) Boomtown globalising: Perth as an international connected resource hub. In Biermann, S, Olaru, D and Tonts, M (eds.)Planning Boomtown and Beyond, (forthcoming).  Crawley: UWA Publishing.

Li Y., Beeton R.J.S., Halog A. and Sigler TJ (2016), Modelling the transition toward urban sustainability: A case study of the industrial city of Jinchang, China,Journal of Cleaner Production134(A), 22-30

Tang AZR, Rowe Gonzales F, Corcoran J, and Sigler TJ (2016).  Spatial mobility patterns of overseas graduates in Australia.  In Wilson, T (ed.)Demography for Planning and Policy: Australian Case Studies.

Sigler TJ and Zhao SX (2015). Hong Kong as an Offshore Trading Hub.  In Beerepoot, Niels, Robert Kloosterman, and Bart Lambregts (eds.)The local outcomes of thelatest wave of globalisation in South and Southeast Asia.  London:  Routledge Press, pp. 94-109. ISBN: 978-1-138-77726-2.

Li Y, Beeton RJS, Sigler TJ and Halog A (2016) Evaluating urban sustainability potential based on material flow analysis of inputs and outputs: a case study in Jinchang City, China.Resources, Conservation, and Recycling110, 87-98

Sigler TJ, Searle G, Martinus K, and Tonts M (2015).  Metropolitan land use patterns by industry group:  A spatial analysis of firm headquarters and branch office locations in Australian cities. Urban Geography37(3): 416-435

Martinus K, Sigler TJ, Searle G, and Tonts M (2015).  Strategic globalizing centers and sub-network geometries: A social network analysis of multi-scalar energy networks,Geoforum64, 66-76

Holz J and Sigler TJ (2015). Green Urbanism in Australia: An Evaluation of Environmentally Oriented Building Ratings Schemes.  In P Burton and H Shearer (eds.)State of Australian Cities Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings.  ISBN: 978-1-925455-03-8

Sigler TJ (2015). One City, Many Networks: Brisbane’s Global Position within Multiple Flows.  In P Burton and H Shearer (eds.)State of Australian Cities Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings.  ISBN: 978-1-925455-03-8

Wei M, Liu Y, Sigler TJ (2015). An exploratory analysis of Brisbane’s commuter travel patterns using Smart Card data.  In P Burton and H Shearer (eds.)State of Australian Cities Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings.  ISBN: 978-1-925455-03-8

Li Y, Cheng H, Beeton RJS, Sigler TJ and Halog A (2015).  Sustainability with Chinese characteristics and its cultural implication as harmonious development in environmental management,Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning18(3), 679-696

Sigler TJ and Wachsmuth D (2015).  Transnational Gentrification:  Globalisation and Neighbourhood Change in Panama’s Casco Antiguo.Urban Studies53(4), 705-722

Sigler TJ, Amen KA and Dwyer KA (2015).  The Heterogeneous Isthmus:  Unpacking Socioeconomic and Cultural Differentiation in Panama. Bulletin of Latin American Research.  DOI: 10.1111/blar.12266

Tang AZR, Rowe Gonzales F, Corcoran J, and Sigler TJ (2014).  Who are the overseas graduates staying on: a study of overseas graduate migration in Australia.Applied Geography.  DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2014.06.004

Sigler TJ (2014).  Monaco with Bananas, a Tropical Manhattan, or a Singapore for Central America:  Explaining Rapid Urban Growth in Panama City, Panama. Singapore Journal of Tropical GeographyDOI: 10.1111/sjtg.12058 (Runner-up for SJTG award)

Sigler TJ (2014).  Panama as Palimpsest:  The Reformulation of the Transit Corridor in a Global Economy. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research—IJURR.  DOI:  10.1111/1468-2427.12132

Sigler TJ (2014).  Panama’s Special Economic Zones:  Balancing Growth and Development in a National Context.Bulletin of Latin American Research 33(1): 1-15. DOI: 10.1111/blar.12035

Sigler TJ (2013).  Relational Cities:  Doha, Panama City, and Dubai as 21st Century EntrepôtsUrban Geography 34(5):  612-633.  DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2013.778572

Sigler TJ and Albandoz R (2013).  Beyond Representation:  Film as a Pedagogical Tool in Urban Geography.  Journal of Geography.  DOI: 10.1080/00221341.2013.764918 (Winner of 2015 National Council for Geographic Education ‘Best Article for College/University Education’ Award)

Sigler TJ and Balaji M (2013).  Regional Place Representation in Hip-Hop Music. Communication, Culture, and Critique6(2):  336-352. DOI: 10.1111/cccr.12006

Sigler TJ (2013).  Corporate clustering in Australian cities:  An analysis of the geographic distribution of ASX-listed headquarters.  In K Ruming, B Randolph, and N Gurran (eds.) State of Australian Cities Conference 2013: Refereed Proceedings.  ISBN: 1-74044-033-1

Sigler TJ (2012).  Globalising Australian Cities:  An Overview.  Refereed Proceedings of the 36th Annual Australia New Zealand Regional Science Association International Conference. ISBN 978-1-877519-32-1

Sigler TJ (2012).  Balancing Human and Ecological Concerns in the DRC’s Ituri Forest. Australasian Review of African Studies(33)1:  177-186. ISSN: 1447-8420

Sigler TJ (2009). Mixed-Use Megaprojects in the Global Context: Lessons from Las Vegas.  Human Geography 2(2): 77-82. 

Last updated on: 18 jan 2017