Dr Nina Williams

Dr Nina Williams

Senior Lecturer
UNSW Canberra
School of Science

Nina Williams is Lecturer in Cultural Geography at the University of New South Wales Canberra.

My research explores conceptual innovations in the fields of nonrepresentational theory, process philosophy, speculative thinking and post-humanism. In an effort to bring theory into close relationship with practice, a central pursuit of my research is to foreground the role of aesthetics and creative processes as unique means for understanding cultural and ecological change.

My current research project ‘Theorising Biodesign: ethics, values, techniques’ (funded with a UNSW Seed Funding award) explores biodesign initiatives in the fields of textiles and architecture, so far in European and Australian contexts (see Williams and Collet 2021; Williams 2022). The project has involved occupying a Visiting Researcher role at the Design and Living Systems Lab at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. I have also undertaken research visits as part of this project to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; Co-Labs in Melbourne; École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris; and Open Cell in 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 contexts of circular economies and ecological crises?

More broadly my research is concerned with two central themes: 

1.  To amplify how distinct forms of evaluation and problematisation emerge as part of creative practices. For example, drawing on the philosophy of Henri Bergson, I have theorised creativity as a process that disrupts individual ingenuity and human durations (see Williams 2016; 2022). After Félix Guattari, I have challenged the idea that the political potential of art is limited to representational intentions (see discussion of Keiichi Tahara's portrait collection 1978-1987 in Williams 2019) and subjects (see discussion of Nathalie Sarraute's Tropisms in Williams and Burdon, 2022). I have sought to re-conceptualise style, after Gilles Deleuze, Anne Sauvagnargues and Sonia Delaunay, understanding it as a transformative practice rather than as a fixed category (see Williams 2020). Also drawing on the philosophy of Deleuze, I have discussed how creative and arts-based geographic research can serve as a site of geographic critique (see Williams 2021). I have also situated this theme of my research in the context of fashion and style, where the introduction to a special issue I co-organised with Dr Merle Patchett (Bristol University) sought to draw out globally-orientated and decentered approaches to the study of fashion and consider the microsocial problematics and potentials of fashion practices (see Patchett and Williams 2022).

2. To develop experimental, qualitative research as generative practico-theoretical events. I have designed experimental methodologies in the contexts of art and curation, walking and mapmaking, and sonic geographies. Through this aspect of my research, I have pursued an interest in disseminating research beyond the academy, having co-organised and secured funding for community and arts-based workshops and exhibitions. My PhD thesis 'An Aesthetic Gait: research in the minor registers of creativity and walking' (completed at the University of Bristol and funded through the Economic and Social Research Council, UK) involved walking interviews in rural landscapes, public workshops on urban field-recording, and immersive engagements with walking art. I have also developed Masters level and citizen-led workshops on listening to urban environments via audio recording devices (see Williams 2019); I have utilised the post-card as a form of mapping (see Cook et al 2016; Williams 2015); and I have curated exhibitions and creative workshops to engage the public in thinking about documenting cities (see Williams 2014; discussed in Williams 2021). With collaborators in Bristol, Canberra, and Linköping, I have addressed how post-humanist theoretical interventions reframe methodological practices and expectations in the humanities and social sciences (see Williams, Patchett, Lapworth, Roberts, and Keating 2019).


I 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 my current role at UNSW Canberra in 2019, I 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.

+61 2 5114 5039
  • Books | 2022
    , 2022, Speculative Geographies, Williams N; Keating T, (ed.), Springer Nature Singapore, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0691-6
  • Book Chapters | 2022
    Williams N; Keating T, 2022, 'From Abstract Thinking to Thinking Abstractions: Introducing Speculative Geographies', in Williams N; Keating T (ed.), Speculative Geographies: Ethics, Technologies, Aesthetics, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 1 - 32, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0691-6_1
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Williams N, 2019, 'Non-Representational Theory', in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition), pp. 421 - 427, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-102295-5.10747-4
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Williams N, 2019, 'Reframing politics in art : from representational subjects to aesthetic subjectification', in Why Guattari? A Liberation of Cartographies, Ecologies and Politics, Routledge
  • Edited Books | 2022
    Williams N; Keating TP, (ed.), 2022, Speculative Geographies: ethics, technologies, aesthetics, Palgrave Macmillan, https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-19-0691-6
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Cotsaftis O; Williams N; Chyon G; Sadar J; Va Pesaran DM; Wines S; Naarden S, 2023, 'Designing conditions for coexistence', Design Studies, 87, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2023.101199
    Journal articles | 2023
    Gerlach J; Debaise D; Wiame A; Roberts T; Lapworth A; Dewsbury JD; Colebrook C; Williams N; Keating TP, 2023, 'Correction: Geophilosophy round table (Subjectivity, (2023), 30, 1, (91-106), 10.1057/s41286-023-00150-1)', Subjectivity, 30, pp. 112, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-023-00158-7
    Journal articles | 2023
    Gerlach J; Debaise D; Wiame A; Roberts T; Lapworth A; Dewsbury JD; Colebrook C; Williams N; Keating TP, 2023, 'Geophilosophy round table', Subjectivity, 30, pp. 91 - 106, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-023-00150-1
    Journal articles | 2022
    Keating TP; Williams N, 2022, 'Geophilosophies: towards another sense of the earth', Subjectivity, 15, pp. 93 - 108, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41286-022-00138-3
    Journal articles | 2022
    Williams N; Burdon G, 2022, 'Writing subjectivity without subjecthood: the machinic unconscious of Nathalie Sarraute’s Tropisms', Social and Cultural Geography, 24, pp. 1403 - 1421, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2022.2065694
    Journal articles | 2022
    Williams N, 2022, 'Waiting for Geotropic Forces: Bergsonian duration and the ecological sympathies of biodesign', Qualitative Inquiry, 28, pp. 1 - 10, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/10778004211065803
    Journal articles | 2021
    Patchett M; Williams N, 2021, 'Geographies of Fashion and Style: Setting the Scene', GeoHumanities, 7, pp. 198 - 216, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2373566X.2021.1925138
    Journal articles | 2021
    Williams N, 2021, 'The problem of critique in art-geography: five propositions for immanent evaluation after Deleuze', Cultural Geographies, 29, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/14744740211029281
    Journal articles | 2020
    Williams N; Collet C, 2020, 'Biodesign and the Allure of “Grow-made” Textiles: An Interview with Carole Collet', GeoHumanities, 7, pp. 1 - 13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2373566x.2020.1816141
    Journal articles | 2020
    Williams N, 2020, 'Theorizing Style (In Three Sketches)', GeoHumanities, 7, pp. 1 - 18, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2373566x.2020.1798801
    Journal articles | 2019
    Williams N; Patchett M; Lapworth A; Roberts T; Keating T, 2019, 'Practising post-humanism in geographical research', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44, pp. 637 - 643, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12322
    Journal articles | 2019
    Williams N, 2019, 'Listening', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44, pp. 647 - 649, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12324
    Journal articles | 2016
    Cook S; Davidson A; Stratford E; Middleton J; Plyushteva A; Fitt H; Cranston S; Simpson P; Delaney H; Evans K; Jones A; Kershaw J; Williams N; Bissell D; Duncan T; Sengers F; Elvy J; Wilmott C, 2016, 'Co-Producing Mobilities: negotiating geographical knowledge in a conference session on the move', Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40, pp. 340 - 374, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2016.1141397
    Journal articles | 2016
    Williams N, 2016, 'Creative processes: From interventions in art to intervallic experiments through Bergson', Environment and Planning A, 48, pp. 1549 - 1564, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X16642769
  • Creative Works (non-textual) | 2014
    Williams N, 2014, Mapping in Momentum, The Walking Encyclopaedia Exhibition, AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, 07 February 2014 - 15 March 2014, at: https://www.airspacegallery.org/index.php/2020/project_entry/the_walking_encyclopaedia_incl._paths_of_variable_resistance
    Curatorial Outputs | 2014
    Williams N, 2014, Sounding the City, exhibited at: The Edwardian Cloakroom Bristol, UK, 14 August 2014 - 16 August 2014

My Research Supervision

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


ZPEM2213 The Art and Science of Doing Geography 

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

ZPEM1202 Geography 1B: understanding environments 



ZPEM2207 Social Geography

ZPEM4205 Human Geography Honours Special Topic

ZPEM4002 ZPEM4004 Science Honours Research