Professor John-David Dewsbury
Head of School

Professor John-David Dewsbury

UNSW Canberra
School of Science

JD Dewsbury is Professor in Human Geography at the School of Science at UNSW Canberra. His research focuses upon the performative and non-representational nature of social life, in particular, on how we view space, environment, affects, human behaviour and subjectivity. Using post-continental philosophy his research looks at understandings of habit, agency and technology, understanding politics and identity through the relationship between ontology and events, and the impacts of assemblage theory and affect in research practice. Although situated in human geography, he has produced successful collaborations with performance studies, political theory, sociology and environmental studies. 

He is currently leading research capacity and expertise in the areas of Cultural and Environmental Geography at UNSW Canberra and developing research in the interdisciplinary field of Behavioural Science in the Age of Social-Technical Innovation, specifically looking at this in the context of Australia’s policy, defence and emergency service infrastructures.

His research has previously appeared in the journals Environment & Planning D, Cultural Geographies, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Social and Cultural Geographies, Area, and Performance Research.

+61 2 5114 5037
  • Books | 2019
    2019, Foreword civic space and desire: After Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
  • Book Chapters | 2019
    2019, 'Foreword: Civic Space and Desire: after Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari', in Civic Spaces and Desire, Routledge, pp. xvii - xxi
    Book Chapters | 2019
    2019, 'Introduction: For Better and For Worse', in Why Guattari? A Liberation of Cartographies, Ecologies and Politics, Routledge, pp. 1 - 11
    Book Chapters | 2019
    2019, 'Refrains of Lost Time: Collapse, Refrain, Abstract', in Why Guattari? A Liberation of Cartographies, Ecologies and Politics, Routledge, pp. 88 - 98
    Book Chapters | 2016
    Dewsbury JD, 2016, 'Engaging an infinity in actuality: Exposing political space in the authority of experience itself', in Authority, Experience and the Life of Power, pp. 139 - 145
    Book Chapters | 2016
    2016, 'Dancing: The Secret Slowness of the Fast', in Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects, pp. 57 - 67,
    Book Chapters | 2016
    2016, 'Language and the Event: The Unthought of Appearing Worlds', in Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography, pp. 147 - 160,
    Book Chapters | 2013
    2013, 'The singularity of the ‘still’: ‘Never suspend the question’', in Stillness in a Mobile World, pp. 175 - 191,
    Book Chapters | 2012
    Dewsbury JD, 2012, 'Dancing: The secret slowness of the fast', in Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects, pp. 51 - 68
    Book Chapters | 2012
    Dewsbury JD, 2012, 'Language and the event: The unthought of appearing worlds', in Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography, pp. 147 - 160
    Book Chapters | 2010
    Dewsbury JD, 2010, 'Dancing: The secret slowness of the fast', in Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects, pp. 51 - 67
    Book Chapters | 2010
    Dewsbury JD, 2010, 'Language and the event: The unthought of appearing worlds', in Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography, pp. 147 - 160
    Book Chapters | 2010
    Dewsbury JD, 2010, 'Performative, non-representational, and affect-based research: Seven injunctions', in The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Geography, pp. 321 - 334,
    Book Chapters | 2009
    2009, 'Affect', in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, pp. 20 - 24,
    Book Chapters | 2009
    2009, 'Avant-Garde/Avant-Garde Geographies', in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, pp. 252 - 256,
  • Edited Books | 2019
    Dewsbury J-D; Jellis T; Gerlach J, (eds.), 2019, Why Guattari? A Liberation of Cartographies, Ecologies and Politics, Routledge, Abingdon. Oxon
  • Journal articles | 2022
    2022, 'From ‘world’ to ‘earth’: non-phenomenological subjectivity in Deleuze and Guattari's geophilosophy', Subjectivity, 15, pp. 135 - 151,
    Journal articles | 2021
    2021, 'Vital aspirations for geography in an era of negativity: Valuing life differently with Deleuze', Progress in Human Geography, 45, pp. 1512 - 1530,
    Journal articles | 2015
    Dewsbury JD, 2015, 'Guattari’s resingularization of existence: Pooling uncertainties', Dialogues in Human Geography, 5, pp. 155 - 161,
    Journal articles | 2015
    2015, 'Habit geographies: the perilous zones in the life of the individual', Cultural Geographies, 22, pp. 21 - 28,
    Journal articles | 2015
    2015, 'Non-representational landscapes and the performative affective forces of habit: from ‘Live’ to ‘Blank’', Cultural Geographies, 22, pp. 29 - 47,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Dewsbury JD, 2014, 'Inscribing thoughts: The animation of an adventure', Cultural Geographies, 21, pp. 147 - 152,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Sharpe S; Dewsbury JD; Hynes M, 2014, 'The minute interventions of Stewart Lee', Performance Research, 19, pp. 116 - 125,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Dewsbury JD, 2013, 'Engaging an infinity in actuality: Exposing political space in the authority of experience itself', Journal of Political Power, 6, pp. 139 - 145,
    Journal articles | 2012
    Dewsbury JD, 2012, 'Affective habit ecologies: Material dispositions and immanent inhabitations', Performance Research, 17, pp. 74 - 82,
    Journal articles | 2011
    Dewsbury JD, 2011, 'The Deleuze-Guattarian assemblage: Plastic habits', Area, 43, pp. 148 - 153,
    Journal articles | 2009
    Dewsbury JD; Cloke Paul P, 2009, 'Spiritual landscapes: Existence, performance and immanence', Social and Cultural Geography, 10, pp. 695 - 711,
    Journal articles | 2007
    Dewsbury JD, 2007, 'Unthinking subjects: Alain Badiou and the event of thought in thinking politics', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32, pp. 443 - 459,
    Journal articles | 2003
    Dewsbury JD, 2003, 'Witnessing space: 'Knowledge without contemplation'', Environment and Planning A, 35, pp. 1907 - 1932,
    Journal articles | 2002
    Dewsbury JD; Naylor S, 2002, 'Practising geographical knowledge: Fields, bodies and dissemination', Area, 34, pp. 253 - 260,
    Journal articles | 2002
    Dewsbury JD, 2002, 'Embodying Time, Imagined and Sensed', Time & Society, 11, pp. 147 - 154,
    Journal articles | 2002
    2002, 'Enacting geographies - Introduction', GEOFORUM, 33, pp. 437 - 440,
    Journal articles | 2000
    Dewsbury JD, 2000, 'Performativity and the event: Enacting a philosophy of difference', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 18, pp. 473 - 496,
    Journal articles | 2000
    Thrift N; Dewsbury JD, 2000, 'Dead geographies - And how to make them live', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 18, pp. 411 - 432,
  • Conference Papers | 2014
    Shabajee P; Preist C; Fairbrother M; Dewsbury JD, 2014, 'ICT 4 climate change adaptation: Systemic and generative perspectives & tools', in ICT for Sustainability 2014, ICT4S 2014, pp. 248 - 257

2016        Bristol-Kyoto Symposium/The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation £9’000 w/ Andrew Lapworth and Jenifer Coates Deterritorialising Visual Theory and Culture: Anglo-Japanese Encounters

2013-14   ESRC - Seminar Series, £23,870.28 w/ Jessica Pykett (PI), Ben Anderson, Maria Fannin, Rhys Jones, Joe Painter, Mark Whitehead: Behaviour Change and Psychological Governance.

2013-14  University Research Fellowship, University of Bristol £10,000.

2013        Visiting Fellowship UNSW AUS $12,080.

2012-13  University of Bristol Cabot Institute, £5,000, co-PI w/ Chris Priest and Malcolm Fairbrother: ICT4 Adaption; 

2012       AHRC: Follow-up Impact Grant, £100,000, Beyond the Flood: performance events in Eastville, Bristol & Shipley, Leeds core participant;

2011-12  BRITISH COUNCIL - UK/US Connect Partnerships, £14,000, PI  w/ Maria Fannin, Keith Woodward: The Politics of Affect;

2010-11  AHRC - Researching Environmental Change ProgrammeReflecting on Environmental Change through Site-based Performancecore participant;

2011       WUN/IAS - Research Initiative Fund, £5,000, co-PI w/ Maria Fannin: Political Events and Spaces of Affect

2010       WUN Research Mobility Programme, £1,277 w/ University of Wisconsin-Madison: Emerging Localized Politics in the Event Based Philosophy of Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy & Jacques Ranciere.

2009-10  University of Bristol Global Change Initiative, £5,000, co-PI w/ Bronwen Morgan, Mark Jackson, and Eldin Fahmy: Affecting Concern in Climate Change and Social Policy. 

2009        AHRC - Beyond Text Research Programme: named participant in two network workshops.De-placing Future Memory

2007-08  AHRC – Landscape and Environment Research Programme: named participant in three network workshops and site research Living in a Material World

In transposing key philosophical concepts into social scientific thinking, I have been at the forefront of research in non-representational theory in geography, gaining distinction for taking this work into the 3 main directions: (1) in the application of post-continental philosophical conceptualizations of politics; (2) in performative understandings of the social, focusing on affect, embodiment, materiality and technology; and (3) in the dissemination of techniques and methodologies from performance studies. 

Post-Continental Philosophical Conceptualizations of Politics

I have recently published a book Why Guattari? A Liberation of Cartographies, Ecologies and Politics (2019: Routledge) with colleagues that pushes the agenda of philosophy in the social sciences and am completing a draft of a monograph entitled Performative Spaces: events, materiality and subjectivity.


PhD Theses

2003-2007 Charlie Rolfe Breaking Promises: for a community that works on the world of assumption

2004-2008 Lucy Hood Rethinking Urban Geographies of Architectural Form and Experience

2008- 2012 Naomi Millner Habits of Emancipation: critical relationships with undocumented migration in the EU security regime

2009-2013 Georgie Urry Immaterial Labour: between life and death

2014-2018 Stephanie Denning Faith Based Social Action and Affective Communities


Performative Understandings of the Social: Affect, Embodiment and Technology


PhD Theses

2002-2006 Jennifer Lea Enacting Somatic Technologies: geographies of complimentary and alternative medicines

2003-2007 Gunnpora Olafsdottir Relating to Nature: the performative spaces of Icelandic Tourism

2005-2009 James Ash Intensive Worlds of the Image: practices and processes of video game design and use

2006-2010 James Clarke Governmental Practices in People Centred Planning with Learning Disabled Subjects

2006-2010 Sam Kinsley Practising Tomorrows? Ubiquitous computing and the politics of anticipation

2010-2014 Andrew Lapworth Ontogenetic Art: rethinking the politics of art-technoscience

2011- 2015 Thomas Roberts Ecologies of Non-organic Life

2011-2015 Stacey Smith The Neural Event: plasticity through practice

2013-2017 Thomas Keating An Ethology of Technics: concepts and experiments with technological affects


Performance Studies and Methodologies of Expression


PhD Theses

2001-2005 Francis MortonThe Music of What Happens: spaces of performance of Irish traditional music Galway, Ireland

2005-2009 Pepe RomanillosExperiences of Finitude: communication as spatiality after Georges Bataille and Alain Robbe-Grillet

2006-2009 Paul SimpsonEcologies of Street Performance: bodies, affects, politics

2006-2010 Julian BrigstockeThe Life of the City: aesthetics of existence in fin-de-siecle Montmartre

2012 –2016 Nina Williams The Art of Walking, An Aesthetic Gait, Aesthetic Ambulation

2015- Jethro Brice Vulnerability and Non-Representational Landscapes

2018 - George Burdon Sound and the Production of Worlds

2019- Carlota De La Herran Iriarte Art and the Non-Representational Unconscious

My Teaching

Current Teaching

Cultural Geography [Unit Convenor and Lecturer] ~ 25 Students, lectures & tutorials, 100% of 39hrs; 2 assignments and examination]

Social Geography [Lecturer] ~ 30 Students, lectures & tutorials & field school, 30% of 50 hrs; 1 assignment and 1/3 of examination]


Previous Teaching

Human Geography [Unit Convenor and Lecturer ~150 students; 1st Year; lectures & practicals; 1/5 of 55 hrs; summer examination]

Philosophy and Social Theory [Unit Convenor and Lecturer ~75 students; 2nd Year; lectures & seminars; 1/3 of 24hrs; 3000 word essay assignment]

Experiencing Cities: Barcelona Field Trip [Unit Convenor and Lecturer: ~35 students; 2nd Year; lectures, seminars & fieldwork; 1/3 of 130hrs; fieldwork and notebook assignment]

Nature, Culture, Power [Lecturer: ~70 students; 3rd Year; lectures, 1/5 of 20hrs; summer examination]

Affect, Biopolitics, Technology [Unit Convenor and Lecturer: ~10 students; MSc; lectures & seminars; 1/2 of 20hrs; 4500 word essay assignment]

Theorizing Society and Space [Unit Convenor and Lecturer :~15 students; MSc; lectures & seminars; 3/5 of 20hrs; 4500 word essay assignment]

Dissertations [Unit Convenor:~150 students; lectures and office hours, 13’000 words thesis].