Dr Nichola Wood

Dr Nichola Wood


I joined the University of Leeds as a Lecturer in 2006 having previously lectured in geography at the University of Bristol and the University of Dundee.

I obtained my PhD from the Department of Geography, University of Edinburgh in 2004 after being awarded a BA (Hons) Geography from the University of Cambridge.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers and a former Secretary and Chair of the Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group (of the RGS-IBG).


  • Deputy Director (EDI), ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership

Research interests

Emotional (re)productions of nation and national identity

Based on fieldwork carried out at two national-scale 'Scottish' music festivals my PhD explores the role and significance of emotional geographies in the (re)production of Scottish national identities. Through this research I have made original contributions to theoretical and methodological debates on what have previously been regarded as the 'non-rational' emotional attachments that people have to nation and national identity. My research highlights the ways in which experiences of wellbeing (in particular feelings of belonging, communion, pride and stability) are crucial for the (re)production, experience and legitimisation of ideas of nationhood and critiques the concept of nation (on the grounds of its exclusivity and potential divisiveness) as a method of geopolitical organisation. I have also written on the role of nations in an era of cosmopolitanism and the role of culture and identity in debates surrounding the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum.

Pragmatism and geography

I am interested in the radical potential of (American) Pragmatism for the study of geography. Pragmatism is a mode of being that engages with a dynamic, uncertain and continually emerging world. It is a potentially powerful way of knowing because it contains an impulse to act in a precarious world with an uncertain future, at least part of which remains to be made and has still to take place. Despite the potential relevance of Pragmatism to many aspects of human and environmental geography, particularly in the wake of a 'non-representational' turn in some areas of the discipline, this style of working has received relatively little attention by geographers. In order to try and address this situation Prof. Susan J. Smith (University of Cambridge) and I co-edited a (2008)  'Pragmatism and Geography' theme issue of Geoforum. This work partially inspired the (2017) International Conference on Human Geography and the Pragmatic Tradition organised by Prof. Jane Wills and Prof. Robert Lake. I also have interests in the work of Jane Addams (and her role within the history of American Pragmatism) and the radical work of the residents of Hull-House, Chicago IL, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that was significant in the development of early Pragmatism.

Encounters with Difference

People's capactity to live with difference in times of increased migration and social and cultural mixing is an interest that manifests itself in several different ways: through my interest in the work of the residents of Hull-House (see above); through my participation in LIVEDIFFERENCE, an ERC funded programme of work based on research in Leeds, UK and Warsaw, Poland (led by Prof. Gill Valentine) that explores the ways in which people live with difference in an era of supermobility and superdiversity; and through an interest ontological security as a way of understanding people's differing capacities to live with difference.

Geographies of Music and Dance

Through my PhD I developed an interest in music and performance as a route to exploring the 'black box' of emotional experiences and encounters. In particular, I am interested in the relationships between music, the emotional spaces created through musical performance, identity and experiences of wellbeing. This involves an engagement with work from musicology, ethnomusicology and music therapy. I have also developed interests in the role of dance (in particular contemporary dance) as a route to wellbeing and a way of understanding social identities including age and (dis)ability.

Research methods

I am interested in methodological innovation. In particular, I have developed a critical engagement with the ways in which the dynamic and constantly emerging 'doings' of social life are studied and (re)presented in academic research. Drawing on influences from Pragmatism and Non-Representational Thinking my work has experimented with a number of innovative qualitative methods in an attempt to apprehend and understand the relationships between the 'doings' of musical performance and the making of national identities. These methods include 'on-the-spot' interviews at musical performances and 'participant sensing'. I have also been engaged in developing a methodology for exploring the potential of contemporary dance as a route to wellbeing amongst older adults.

PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD applications in the following areas:
  • Nationalism, nationalist politics and national identities (at a variety of spatial scales)
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Emotional geographies
  • Geographies of identity
  • Geographies of music
  • Geographies of dance
  • ‘More-than-representational’ geographies
  • Geographies of performance
  • Pragmatism and geography
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Edinburgh,
  • BA (Hons) Geography, University of Cambridge

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers

Student education

I teach undergraduates at all levels in various areas of political and social geography. I am also a personal and academic tutor and undergraduate dissertation mentor. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>