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David P Nally BA, PhD

David P Nally BA, PhD

Associate Professor 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 a convening member of the Department's Vital Geographies Research Group. 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 agrarian transformations 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 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.

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.


[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 Appetities'
  • MPhil in Geographical Research

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

External activities