Main menu

Derek McCormack

University Lecturer in Human Geography
Derek McCormack

Derek McCormack joined the School of Geography and the Environment in October 2006. From 2006 to 2009 Derek was a fellow of Hertford College, before he moved to take up a Tutorial Fellowship at Mansfield College. 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. From 2001 to 2006 Derek was a lecturer in human geography at the Department of Geography at the University of Southampton. During that time he received a Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Award for his development (with Dr Alan Latham, now at UCL) of innovative field-based teaching in urban geography. Derek has also 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 a Phyllis Mary Morris Scholarship from the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. In 2008 he received an Oxford University Teaching Award for innovation and excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Derek is co-ordinator of the Technological Natures research cluster within the School of Geography and Environment, and from September 2011 will be Academic Director of the MSc in Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy.
Derek's work centres on the development of a form of conceptually informed empiricism that explores the way in which affectivity participates in the matter and meaning of lived experience. His writing has appeared in major geography journals including Annals of the Association American Geographers, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Progress in Human Geography, and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. His work has been funded by the British Academy, the World Universities Network (WUN) and the Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) network. He has been a visiting researcher at the Universities of Oslo and Bergen, and has given invited presentations at a range of major universities.
Reflecting his particular commitment to interdisciplinary research, Derek has been involved in a number of practice and performance based events with artists, performers, and philosophers. In recognition of this interest, he was invited to contribute to the inaugural issue of Inflexions, a journal for research-creation based at the Senselab, (Concordia University) of which he is a member. He also recently organised (with Tim Schwanen) an interdisciplinary symposium to mark the centenary of Henri Bergson's lectures on the Perception of Change at Oxford.
Derek is from Leixlip, Ireland.

Current Research

Derek's research interest can be divided into three overlapping areas, each of which follows on from his longstanding engagement with and contribution to non-representational theories and styles of thinking within Geography.
A first area of research focuses on the moving body as a site for experimenting with experience. It examines how such experiment is facilitated by particular constellations of techniques, spaces, and concepts. This work involves philosophically informed participation in specific performance and practice-based events in order to examine how the generative affectivity of the moving body is rendered appreciable and actionable. Derek has a completed manuscript provisionally titled Refrains for Moving Bodies, currently under review with a North American University Press, which brings together his work in this area.
A second area of research centres on geographies of air and atmosphere. Derek's work in this area arises from his broader concern with the relation between movement and materiality. He is interested in how, by selectively attending to the properties, movements, and affects of airspace and atmospheres, we can open up for conceptual and empirical experiment with the question of how to think through the multiple space-times of materialities. The vehicle through which Derek has pursued this project is a deceptively simple object: the balloon. More specifically, his work here focuses on a series of ways in which the balloon has been employed in scientific, military, and artistic contexts as a vehicle for experimenting with the properties and spaces of air and atmosphere. He is in the process of developing a book length project on this topic.
A third emerging area of research examines the relation between questions of affectivity and the governance of forms of everyday life in contemporary western societies. To this end he is developing a research project into how inflation figures as a problem in western democracies, paying particular attention to how the effort to fight inflation is premised upon governing affectively imbued orientations towards the future. Relatedly, he is co-editing (with Dr. Tim Schwanen) a special issue of Environment and Planning A on the practices and politics of decision-making.