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David P Nally BA, PhD

David P Nally BA, PhD

University Senior Lecturer and Fellow of Jesus College



  • 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


I am a human geographer and member of the Department's Natures, Cultures, Knowledges and the Population, Health and Histories Research Groups. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the events, ideas, and material processes that shape the world around us. I have been drawn to study different issues – famines, colonial rule, and American philanthropy – but a defining theme is the expression of power in the social landscape.

For example, my interest in colonial authority and the state's response to large-scale subsistence crises 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. I am still interested in this line of research and especially in tracing what David Arnold calls the 'comparative phenomenology' of crises. What might the relational study of different disasters tell us about the exercise of power, and just as importantly, the praxis of resistance?

My interest in the political economy of agrarian change has drawn me to study a range of contemporary problems too, including practices of global land grabbing, the 'biopolitical' dimensions of food provisioning, and the technification of agrarian systems. 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. Part of this study involves tracing what scholar and activist Raj Patel terms the 'long' Green Revolution – a prompt which reminds us that the frames of reference for the present are always shaped, though never fully determined, by happenings in the past.

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 have recently co-authored a textbook Key Concepts in Historical Geography (Sage Publications 2014).

In the department I teach (and co-teach) papers on historical and contemporary human geography, research methods, in addition to offering a more specialised final year paper on 'Political Appetites'. Further details on some of my research interests can be gleaned from the projects tab on the sidebar to this page.

I would be happy to hear from graduate and post-doctoral students 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 very strong case for collaboration will need to be made.



Book cover Book cover

Selected Articles

  • Nally, D, 'Imagine All the People: Fear, Philanthropy and the "Peasant Problem" in Asia' Robert J. Mayhew (Ed). New Perspectives on Malthus: 250th Anniversary Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
  • Nally, D and Taylor, S, 'The Politics of Self-help: The Rockefeller Foundation, Philanthropy and the 'Long' Green Revolution, Political Geography (2015),
  • Nally, D. 'Governing Precarious Lives: Land Grabs, Geopolitics and the Rhetoric of "Food Security"' The Geographical Journal 2014 doi: 10.1111/geoj/12063.
  • Vira, B and Nally D. 'Before We Can Feed the World, We Need to Understand Food Politics' Working Out Our Future Together: Four Steps Toward Ending Global Poverty [2013 Report from the Cambridge Humanitarian Centre] 2013, pp 28-30.
  • Vira, B and Nally D. 'Can Technology Save the World? The Role of Biotechnology in Achieving Food Security' New World [flagship publication for UNA-UK] Spring 2013 p 19.
  • Nally, D. 'Trajectories of Development, Modalities of Enclosure: Land Grabs and the Struggle Over Geography.' Patrick J. Duffy and William Nolan (Eds). At the Anvil: Essays in Honour of William J. Smyth. Dublin: Geography Publications, 2012 pp 653-676.
  • Nally, D. 'The Colonial Dimensions of the Great Irish Famine.' John Crowley, William J. Smyth and Mike Murphy (Eds). An Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. Cork: Cork University Press, 2012 pp 64-74.
  • "'Immediate in Time and Spectacular in Space': Famine, Violence and Death by Proxy." Dialogues in Human Geography 2012 2.1(2012): 90-93, doi:10.1177/204382061200200107 [author response to a roundtable review of Human Encumbrances].
  • Nally, D. 'Hunger in an Era of Global Food Security.' Carlos Antonio Soares Ribeiro, Carlos Antônio Moreira Leite, Douglas Mansur da Silva et al (Eds). 1st International Symposium on Food Security and Poverty Reduction. Viçosa: Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 2011 pp 17-28.
  • Nally, D and Kearns G. 'A Closer Look at Famine: Drought is only Part of What's Happening in East Africa.' The Chronicle of Higher Education, 58(9) Section B, October 21, 2011 pp 10-12.
  • Nally, D. 'On Lost Causes.' Past Place. 20(1) 2011 pp 4-6.
  • Nally, D. 'The Biopolitics of Food Provisioning.' Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 (1) 2011 pp 37-53, doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2010.00413.x.
  • Cook, I.J., Hobson, K., Hallett, L., Guthman, J., Murphy, A., Hulme, A., Sheller, M., Crewe, L., Nally, D.P., Roe, E., et al. 'Geographies of Food: Afters.' Progress in Human Geography 35 (1) 2010 pp 104-120, doi:10.1177/0309132510369035.
  • Nally, D. 'Ethnicity and Resistance, Historical Geographies of.' Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift (Eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 3. Oxford: Elsevier, 2009 pp 620-625.
  • Nally, D. 'That Coming Storm: the Irish Poor Law, Colonial Biopolitics and the Great Irish Famine.' Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98 (3) 2008 pp 714-741, doi:10.1080/00045600802118426.
  • Kearns, G. and Nally, D. 'Disaster Capitalism in Historical Perspective.' The Geographical Journal. 174 (3) 2008 pp 284-287, doi:10.1111/j.1475-4959.2008.292_1.x [Part of a roundtable review entitled "Considering the Political Utility of Disasters" on Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, ed. by D. Nally].
  • Nally, D. (2008) 'Maintaining the Marches: Seigneur, Sept and Settlement in Anglo-Norman Thomand.' Matthew Lynch and Patrick Nugent (Eds.) [William Nolan, Series Editor] Clare: History and Society. Dublin: Geographical Publications, 2008 pp 27-60.
  • Nally, D. 'From the Kraal to Knackeragua and Back: Colonial and Postcolonial Futurologies.' Irish Geography 39 (1) 2007 pp 172-176.
  • Nally, D. 'Famine, Geography of.' Barney L. Warf (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Geography, Vol 3. London: Sage Publications, 2006 pp 1082-1085.
  • Nally, D. '"Eternity's Commissioner": Thomas Carlyle, the Great Irish Famine and the Geopolitics of Travel.' Journal of Historical Geography 32 (2) 2006 pp 313-335, doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2005.01.020.
  • Nally, D. 'Geography in Ireland in Transition - Some Comments.' Irish Geography 37 (2) 2005 pp 131-134.
  • Nally, D. 'Incorrigible Venice and the War Against Cliché. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 22 (1) 2004 pp 295-312, doi:10.1068/d336t.


  • 'More Calories from Fewer Sources Means More Profit and Less Nutrition' The Conversation (Tuesday 18 March 2014)
  • Vira, Bhaskar and Nally, D. 'Food Rights and Welfare Squeezes: How Do we Free People From Hunger' The Guardian (Monday 8 April 2013)
  • Vira, Bhaskar and Nally, D. 'Food Rights and the Welfare Squeeze' Al Jazeera (Sunday 7 April 2013)
  • Nally, D and Vira, B. 'Empty Words Won't Fill Hungry Stomachs' Al Jazeera (Saturday 26 January 2013)
  • Nally, D and Vira, B. 'Davos 2013: New Vision for Agriculture is Old News for Farmers' The Guardian (Friday 25 January 2013)
  • Vira, B. and Nally, D. 'Should we Label Genetically Modified Food?' The Guardian (Thursday 22 November 2012)
  • Appearance on 'Emerald Hour', Radio Verulam [MP3 file] (Thursday 4 October 2012)
  • 'Great Irish Famine, Food Security, Natural Disasters, and Land Grabs.' Interviewed by Leonhardt van Efferink. Exploring Geopolitics (April 2012)
  • 'Mass Extinction: Humans Could Join the List of Threatened Species'. Interviewed by Jane Bird. Financial Times (25 November 2011)
  • 'Architectures of Violence: Famine and Profits.' Al Jazeera (16 August 2011)
  • 'Somalia: Lessons from Another Time and Another Continent.' Interviewed by Mark Woods. The Baptists Times (12 August 2011)
  • Appearance on 'Everyday Ethics', BBC Radio Ulster (Sunday 7 August 2011) [Listen (MP3 file)]
  • 'Parallels in Famine-stricken Societies.' Interviewed by Owen Ryan, The Clare Champion (4 August, 2011)
  • 'Between the Stomach and the Purse: What We can Learn from the Great Irish Famine in the 1840s' The Huffington Post (23 July 2011)
  • 'The Detention of Ghazi Walid Falah: Israel Arrests Geography Professor from the University of Akron' Counterpunch (26 July, 2006)
  • 'Darfur Genocide Reveals World's Quiet Savagery' Sunday Times (8 August, 2004)
  • 'Genocide in Darfur? Victims without Oppressors; Massacres without Crimes' Counterpunch (31 July 2004)
  • 'Sudan: Our Geographical Blindspot' Counterpunch (17/18 July, 2004)
  • 'A Call for Sudan' ZNet (13 July, 2004)
  • 'Bush visits Ireland' ZNet (3 June, 2004)

Book Reviews

  • Mark Duffield and Vernon Hewitt Eds (2009) Empire, Development and Colonialism: The Past in the Present. Suffolk: James Currey, In Economic History Review 64 (2) 2011 pp 707-708
  • David N. Livingstone and Charles W.J. Withers Ed (2005) Geography and Revolution Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, IN Social and Cultural Geography 9 (4) 2008 pp 458-460
  • "Uncivil Surveys," Review of William J. Smyth (2006) Map-making, Landscapes and Memory: A Geography of Colonial and Early Modern Ireland c.1530-1750. Cork: Cork University Press, IN HNet HIST-GEOG (published online, 2007)
  • Mark McCarthy Ed (2005) Ireland's Heritages: Critical Perspectives on Memory and Identity. Aldershot: Ashgate, IN Cultural Geographies 14 (4) 2007 p 626
  • Frederick Buell (2004) From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century. New York: Routledge, IN Historical Geography 35 2007 pp 277-280
  • Kay Anderson, Mona Domosh, Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift Eds (2003) Handbook of Cultural Geography. London: Sage Publications, IN Progress in Human Geography 28 (3) 2004 pp 408-409
  • Dirk Hoerder (2000) Creating Societies: Immigrant Lives in Canada. McGill-Queen's University Press: Montreal, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 175, Winter 2002: 150-51
  • Carlos Teixeira and Victor M. P. Da Rosa Eds (2000) The Portuguese in Canada. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 175, Winter 2002 pp 150-51
  • Louis Gauthier (1999) Travels with an Umbrella: An Irish Journey. Nuage Editions: Winnipeg, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 175, Winter 2002 pp 120-21
  • Margot Gayle Backus (1999) The Gothic Family Romance: Heterosexuality, Child Sacrifice, and the Anglo-Irish Colonial Order. Duke University Press: London, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 175, Winter 2002 pp 120-21
  • Keith Jeffery Ed. (1996) An Irish Empire?: Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire. Manchester University Press: Manchester, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 175, Winter 2002 pp 120-21
  • Paul C. Adams, Steven Hoelscher, Karen Till Eds (2001) Textures of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies University of Minnesota Press: Minnesota, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 174 Autumn 2002 pp 158-59
  • Bernhard Klein (2001) Maps and the Writing of Space in Early Modern England and Ireland. Palgrave: Basingstoke, IN Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review no. 174 Autumn 2002 pp 158-59


  • Director of the Undergraduate School, 2011-13
  • Part IB, Living in the Anthropocene: Geographical Thought on the Nature-Culture Divide
  • Part II, 'Historical Geographies of Food, Famine and Power'
  • MPhil in Geographical Research
  • Director of Studies, Fitzwilliam and Gonville and Caius College

External activities

  • Honorary Editor (2007-11) of the research monograph series produced by the RGS-IBG's Historical Geography Research Group
  • Co-editor of the UCC post-graduate geography journal, Chimera (1999-2000)
  • Member of the Geographical Society of Ireland
  • Member of the Association of American Geographers