Researcher

Dr Nina Williams

Biography

Nina Williams is Lecturer in Cultural Geography at UNSW Canberra, a role she has occupied since February 2019.

Nina obtained a BA (hons) in Geography at the University of Manchester in 2011; an MSc in Human Geography: Society and Space at the University of Bristol in 2012; and a PhD in Human Geography at the University of Bristol in 2017. Before commencing her current role at UNSW Canberra, Nina worked as a Research Associate in Urban Living in the...view more

Nina Williams is Lecturer in Cultural Geography at UNSW Canberra, a role she has occupied since February 2019.

Nina obtained a BA (hons) in Geography at the University of Manchester in 2011; an MSc in Human Geography: Society and Space at the University of Bristol in 2012; and a PhD in Human Geography at the University of Bristol in 2017. Before commencing her current role at UNSW Canberra, Nina worked as a Research Associate in Urban Living in the department of Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol and as a Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol.

Nina's research explores conceptual innovations in the fields of non-representational theory, process philosophy, post-humanism, and speculative thinking. This theoretical approach has led Nina to conduct research in the contexts of art and curation, fashion and textiles, biodesign and speculative design, walking and mapmaking, and sonic geographies. Nina is also committed to the dissemination of research beyond the academy, having co-organised and secured funding for community and arts-based workshops and exhibitions. Nina’s current research project is developing a speculative ethical framework for theorising and conducting biodesign practice. 


My Research Activities

My research explores conceptual innovations in the fields of non-representational theory, process philosophy, post-humanism, and speculative thinking. Drawing on these theoretical orientations, I am concerned with the limits of traditional categories and framings used for social-scientific research questions and with developing thought beyond common-sense and taken-for-granted assumptions. In particular, I am interested in novel forms of evaluation and problematisation that emerge as part of creative practices.

A central pursuit in my research is to amplify aesthetics and creativity as salient modes of sensing and engaging geographic practices. My research engages with questions of aesthetics in terms of the traditions of art and design (as I examines in the contexts of fashion, literature, visual arts, walking art, and sound art) but also as a sensory mode of experience (as I examine through the development of experimental workshops and research methodologies).

Bringing these conceptual and empirical dimensions of my practice together, my research publications address the politics, values, and processes of aesthetics. For example, drawing on the philosophy of Henri Bergson, I argue that creativity is irreducible to the ingenuity of individuals, such as of the figure of the artistic genius (see Williams, 2016 ‘Creative Processes’). My work is also concerned with the politics of art, using the philosophy of Felix Guattari, I have challenged the idea that politics in art is limited to representational intentions within artistic practices (see Williams, 2019 ‘Reframing Politics in Art’). I have sought to re-conceptualise style, after Gilles Deleuze, Anne Sauvagnargues and Sonia Delaunay, understanding it as something that is practiced rather than as a specific brand (see Williams, 2020 ‘Theorising Style’). Finally, drawing on Gilles Deleuze and Friedrich Nietzsche I propose new ways of evaluating creative and arts-based geographic research (see Williams 2021 ‘The Problem of Critique in Art-Geography’).

My interest in problematising creative and aesthetic processes also corresponds to a central dimension of my methodological practice, which is to develop experimental qualitative research. Specifically, I have sought to rethink traditional forms of representation and documentation used for understanding environmental issues or concerns. For example, my PhD thesis 'An Aesthetic Gait: research in the minor registers of creativity and walking' involved walking interviews in rural landscapes, public workshops on urban walking, and ethnographic writing on walking art, and sought to address a plurality of material processes that make up a walking environment. I have also developed Masters level and public workshops on listening to urban environments (see Williams, 2019 ‘Listening’); I have utilised the post-card as a method for mapping walking (discussed in Cook et al 2016 ‘Co-producing Mobilities’); and I have curated exhibitions and creative workshops to engage the public in thinking about documenting cities (see Williams 2014 'Sounding the City'). With collaborators in Bristol, Canberra, and Linköping, I have explored the implications of post-humanist theories on methodological practices (see Williams, Patchett, Lapworth, Roberts, and Keating, 2019).

My current research project ‘Theorising Biodesign: ethics, values, techniques’ explores biodesign initiatives in the fields of textiles and architecture, currently in European and Australian contexts (See Williams and Collet, 2020). The project involved occupying a Visiting Researcher role at the Design and Living Systems Lab at Central Saint Martins, UAL. I am also participating in research visits as part of this project to RMIT, Melbourne; ENSIC, Paris; and Open Cell, London.

The key questions guiding this research project are: what kinds of assemblages make up this form of design? How are the traditional durations of design disrupted by bioinspired or bioengineered techniques? What is implied by the ethos of collaborating or co-producing with nature in biodesign discourses? How do practitioners transition from the speculative to manufactured stages of design? What role do regenerative designs play in the context of climate change?


My Research Supervision


Currently supervising

Tara Elisabeth Jeyasingh (co-supervised with Prof. JD Dewsbury) is drawing on non-representational theory; post-humanism; feminist theory; and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. She is engaging these concepts in relation to cinema, dance choreography, fashion and cultural appropriation.


My Teaching

Current:

ZPEM2213 The Art and Science of Doing Geography 

ZPEM2211 Special Topic in Geography: the social science of ecological crises 

ZPEM1202 Geography 1B: understanding environments 

 

Previous:

ZPEM2207 Social Geography

ZPEM4205 Human Geography Honours Special Topic

ZPEM4002 ZPEM4004 Science Honours Research 

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Location

Contact

+61 2 5114 5039

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