skip to primary navigation skip to content

Department of Geography


Professor David P Nally BA, PhD

Professor of Historical Geography and Fellow of Jesus College


I am a human geographer and a convening member of the Department’s Vital Geographies Research Group. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the events, ideas, material processes and everyday practices that shape the world around us. I have been drawn to study different issues – famines, colonial rule, food regimes, and American philanthropy – but a defining theme is the expression of power in the social landscape.

My interest in subsistence crises, or ‘starvation events’, comes together in a series of publications – see below – on Ireland’s Great Famine, culminating in a book, Human Encumbrances, published with the University of Notre Dame Press. This monograph is the foundation for my subsequent work on the political rationalities of food provisioning and colonial violence.

My interest in food regimes and agrarian transformations has drawn me to study a range of contemporary problems too, including practices of land grabbing, the ‘biopolitical’ dimensions of the food system, and the role of technologies – including ‘social technologies’ – in remaking agrarian life. More recently I have been exploring the emergence of American philanthropy as a moral and political force shaping global relations, particularly in the fields of population control and food production. Finally, I maintain an active interest in social theory and the history of political thought, including the history and philosophy of geography as a field of intellectual enquiry. To that end, I co-authored a textbook Key Concepts in Historical Geography (Sage Publications 2014).

In the department I teach/co-teach papers on historical and contemporary human geography, research methods, in addition to convening a more specialised final year paper on ‘Political Appetites’.

Supervision of Masters and PhD students

I would be pleased to hear from postgraduate scholars with an interest in studying any of the topics here mentioned. I would also consider exciting projects outside my immediate areas of interest, but obviously a strong case for collaboration will need to be made.


  • 2006 – Present: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • Jan – April 2005: Visiting Lecturer and Seminar Instructor, University College Cork
  • 2000 – 2005: University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • 1996 – 1999: University College Cork


  • PhD, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia
  • BA, Joint Honours, History and Geography, University College Cork

Awards, honours and grants

  • The Rockefeller Foundation, Grant-in-Aid award, 2014
  • Philip Leverhulme Prize, 2013
  • CRASSH Early Career Fellowship, 2009
  • University Graduate Fellowship, University of British Columbia, 2002-2004
  • National University of Ireland, ‘Travelling Studentship in Geography,’ 2000-2003
  • Awarded title of College Scholar, University College Cork, 1999
  • Awarded Charles J. O’Connell Medal, University College Cork (first place in Geography), 1999


[Publications will load automatically from the University’s publication database.]


I have contributed to a range of papers across the Geography Tripos, but most recently I have lectured on the following:

  • Part IA, Historical Geography
  • Part IB, Development Theories, Politics and Practices
  • Part II, Political Appetites: Geographies of Food and Power
  • MPhil in Geography
  • MPhil in Anthropocene Studies

In addition, I am a Director of Studies at Jesus College

External activities