Academic Profile

Derek McCormack joined the School of Geography and the Environment in October 2006. Derek has a BA (Hons, first class) in Geography and Sociology from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth; an MSc in Geography from Virginia Tech; and a PhD in Geography from the University of Bristol. Prior to taking up a post at Oxford Derek was a lecturer at the Department of Geography at the University of Southampton. Derek has received the Gwenda Hurst Memorial Medal from the Association of Geography Teachers of Ireland, the J.A.K Graham Award from the Geographical Society of Ireland, and The Phyllis Mary Morris Scholarship from the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. He has received a Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Award (at Southampton) and an Oxford University Teaching Award for innovation and excellence in undergraduate teaching. In 2015 he was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship.

Derek is a human geographer whose work is informed by a wide-ranging engagement with philosophy and social theory and is characterized by a commitment to creative approaches to methodology and writing. His research has made significant contributions to the development of a number of important conceptual agendas within the discipline, particularly around the relations between non-representational theory, affect, and materiality. Working with a number of colleagues within and beyond geography, these contributions have been developed through engagements with a series of different empirical domains, including performance, urban life, cinema and geopolitics, and more recently, air and atmosphere.

Derek is a member of the Technological Natures Research Cluster.

Current Research

The Experimental Politics of Atmospheric Assemblages - 2015-2016 British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship Project.

This project develops Derek's ongoing interest in the relation between the meteorological and affective senses of atmosphere. It aims to explore how this double sense of the atmospheric becomes the focus of different experimental practices across various domains of expertise, including art, science, geopolitics and popular culture. A central aim of the project is the completion of a single authored monograph, The Allure of the Atmospheric. In addition, as part of his fellowship, Derek is completing a number of papers that develop an engagement with the relation between atmospheres, media, and sensing. The project draws upon a combination of archival research, site visits, and critical analysis.

Selected Research Projects

  • The emotional geographies of Arctic exploration: The 1897 Andrée Expedition
    British Academy, 2005-2008.
  • The Geopolitics of Atmospheric Experiments
    Oxford University Fell Fund, 2014-2015.
  • The Experimental Politics of Atmospheric Assemblages
    British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship 2015-2016.


Undergraduate Teaching

Derek lectures on cultural geography topics for the Preliminary Examination and about issues of modernity, consumption, and materiality for the SPS FHS Paper. He teaches an undergraduate option course (Cultural Spaces) which draws heavily upon his ongoing research into questions of affective experience.

Postgraduate Teaching

Derek convenes and teaches on the 'Research Design' module on the MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance. Derek welcomes expressions of interest from suitably qualified individuals who would like to pursue doctoral level research in the following areas: non-representational theories; geographies of affect and emotion; geographies of movement and mobility, particularly in relation to the affective and embodied experience of movement; social theories and philosophies of space and place; and cultural geographies of artistic practice and performance.

Current Graduate Research Students

Faizal Bin Abdul Aziz

Exploring the Affective and Emotional Experiences of Singapore-based Flight Attendants amidst a Global Pandemic

Luis Iturra

Exploring urban inequality through unveiling uneven atmospheres in everyday mobility practices

Josefina Jaureguiberry Mondion

Affective experiences in radical housing alternatives: The cases of Barcelona, Berlin and Rome

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

Rhian Scott
Completed DPhil in 2020

The contemporary warehouse studio: an extension of artist and urban landscape

Andrew Dwyer
Completed DPhil in 2019

Malware Ecologies: A Politics of Cybersecurity

Matthew Shepherd
Completed DPhil in 2019

Geothermal Urbanism: Making the elemental explicit in Reykjavík

Lisa Choi
Completed DPhil in 2017

Mobilities and socio-spatialities in the Aerotropolis: Dallas-Fort Worth and New Songdo City

Sasha Engelmann
Completed DPhil in 2017

The cosmological aesthetics of Tomás Saraceno's atmospheric experiments

Becky Catarelli
Completed DPhil in 2016

Rising seas, surprising storms: temporalities of climate and catastrophe in Vermont, New York and the Florida Keys

Janet Banfield
Completed DPhil in 2014

Towards a non-representational geography of artistic practice

Selected Publications

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Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • McCormack, D. (2015) Devices for doing atmospheric things. In, Vannini, P. (ed.) Nonrepresentational Methodologies. London: Routledge.
  • Carter, S. and McCormack, D. (2014) Affectivity and Geopolitical Images. Chapter 44 in, Dittmer, J. and Sharp, J. (eds.) Geopolitics: An Introductory Reader. Taylor and Francis. pp. 319-323. ISBN: 978-0-415-66662-6.
  • McCormack, D. (2014) Dance. Ch. 6 in, Paul C. Adams, Craine, J. and Dittmer, J. (eds.) The Ashgate Research Companion to Media Geography. Ashgate. 396 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4094-4401-5.
  • McCormack, D.P. (2013) Pipes and cables. In, Adey, P., Bissell, D., Hannam, K., Merriman, P. and Sheller, M. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities. Routledge, London. 624 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-66771-5.
  • Carter, S. and McCormack, D.P. (2010) Affectivity and geopolitical images. In, MacDonald, F., Hughes, R. and Dodds, K. (eds.) Observant States: Geopolitics and Visual Culture. IB Tauris, London. pp. 103-122. ISBN: 9781845119454.
  • McCormack, D.P. (2010) Thinking in transition: the affirmative refrain of experience/experiment. In, B. Anderson and P. Harrison (eds.) Taking Place: Non-representational Theories and Geography. London: Ashgate. pp. 201-220.
  • Carter, S. and McCormack, D.P. (2009) Film, geopolitics and the affective logics of intervention. Chapter 56 in, Dodds, K. (ed.) Geopolitics, vol. 3. SAGE, London. pp. 347-368. (Reprinted from (2006) Political Geography, 25: 228-245.).
  • Latham, A. and McCormack, D.P. (2009) Globalizations big and small: notes on urban studies, actor-network theory and geographical scale. Chapter 2 in, Farias, I. and Bender, T. (eds.) Urban Assemblages: How actor-network theory changes urban studies. Routledge, London. pp. 53-72. ISBN: 978-0-415-48662-0.
  • McCormack, D.P. (2009) Becoming. In, Kitchen, R. and Thrift, N. (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Elsevier, London. pp. 277-281. ISBN: 978-0-08-044910-4.
  • McCormack, D.P. (2009) Performativity. In, Kitchen, R. and Thrift, N. (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Elsevier, London. pp. 133-136. ISBN: 978-0-08-044910-4.
  • McCormack, D.P. (2009) Sense / Sensorium. In, Kitchen, R. and Thrift, N. (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Elsevier, London. pp. 101-105. ISBN: 978-0-08-044910-4.
  • Latham, A. and McCormack, D. (2008) Speed and Slowness. Chapter 17 in, Hall, T., Hubbard, P. and Short, J.R. (eds.) The SAGE Companion to the City. SAGE. 408 pp. ISBN: 9781412902076.
  • McCormack, D.P. (2004) Introduction. In, N. Thrift and S. Whatmore (eds.) Techniques and (non)representation, vol. 2. Cultural Geography: Critical Concepts. London: Routledge.

Other Publications