Dr Alison Williams
Senior Lecturer in Political Geography & Geography Degree Programme Director (L701/F800/FH82)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8489
I am a Senior Lecturer in Political Geography, with interests in military geographies and geopolitics. Specifically, I am interested in vertical and aerial geopolitics; analysing the role of aviation and aircraft in the projection of power across space. This interest has both historical and contemporary foci and, to date, includes work on the aerial geopolitics of the inter-war Pacific, the use of military air power to enforce international boundaries, the performativity of UK military airspaces, and the embodied geopolitics of drone warfare.
I have been PI on an ESRC funded project investigating the 'value' of university armed service units (2012-15), and was academic lead on a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence project on visualising military airspaces (2013-14). Between July 2008 - June 2011 I was an ESRC Research Fellow working on a programme of research entitled 'The Geographies of Military Airspaces'.
Roles and Responsibilities
Degree Programme Director for Geography (L701, F800, FH82)
ESRC Peer Review College member (2010-)
Member - Northumbrian Universities Military Education Committee (2008-)
2005: PhD Human Geography, University of Hull
1999: MA International Relations, Keele University
1998: BA (Hons) Geography, University of Liverpool
2011-2014 Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University
2008-11: ESRC Research Fellow, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University
2007-8: Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Liverpool
2005-7: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, International Boundaries Research Unit, Geography Department, Durham University
Fellow of Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
My research falls into two main areas. The majority of my work seeks to consider ideas of geopolitics and specifically technogeopolitics, with an empirical focus on military geography, especially relating to military air power. My work in these areas seeks to understand how aircraft can be and are used to project state power, and also how that can be challenged and disrupted. Empirically, my work ranges from the use of aviation to project US power across the interwar Pacific, through the performance of UK military airspace, to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and the relationships between bodies and technologies in the projection of military power by aircraft.
I also have a research interest in the transferable skills agenda within UK Higher Education. This encompasses pedagogic work to help develop opportunities for students to develop skills during their degree programme, but also focuses on how students might be enabled to develop other skills and knowledges at university, and the legacy of these in graduate life. This overlaps with my military geography interests in work on University Armed Service Units.
University Armed Service Units
I have recently completed a two-year ESRC funded project investigating the non-economic value of the University Armed Service Units (USU), on which I was PI. These student societies are run by the UK Armed Forces and teach military skills, as well as transferable skills. This project will undertake an in-depth UK-wide analysis of the impact of USU participation for current students, USU graduates who have not pursued military careers, graduate employers, UK universities, and the UK Armed Forces. Working with Prof Rachel Woodward (Co-I) and Dr Neil Jenkings (Co-I and SRA), this project will use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate the worth of USUs in relation to transferable skills, civil-military relations, and militarism. I received a Faculty Research Fund Award (2009) to enable an RA to conduct a pilot study into the relationship between membership of the university's armed service units and the development of transferable skills which provided pilot data for the ESRC project. For more about this visit http://research.ncl.ac.uk/usu-research/. The book from this project is now available at http://www.ubiquitypress.com/site/books/detail/17/the-value-of-the-university-armed-service-units/.
This is my main area of research interest. Between July 2008 and June 2011 I was an ESRC Research Fellow, working on a programme of research under the heading of the 'Geographies of Military Airspaces'. Within this Fellowship I sought to theorise airspace; investigate how airspace is constructed through a variety of legal regimes; discover how military flight crews are taught to 'see' and understand airspace; consider popular geopolitical representations of military airspace in video gaming; and analyse the significance of unmanned aerial vehicles technologies within the military sphere. This research has been published in a number of journal articles and I continue to write up this research for publication.
Visualising the aerial
I have ongoing interests in how militarised spaces can be represented through engagements with artistic and creative practice.
During 2013-14 I was academic lead on a Leverhulme Artist-in Residence award working with Dr Matthew Flintham to create artistic interventions to visualise military airspaces. This project provided Dr Flintham (as a practising artist) opportunities to create art works that will visualise the spaces used in the UK for the training of military aircrews, offering opportunities to uncover these hidden spaces. The work produced in the project was shown at a public exhibition held in Newcastle in January 2015. For more information on this project visit http://research.ncl.ac.uk/larp/
During spring 2010 I was part of the Interventions Project, which brought together designers and researchers to collaborate to produce a piece of work related to our research. I worked with Nelly Ben Hayoun (www.nellyben.com), an award winning designer based in London on a project to materialise resistance to airspace control. For more information on our project visit http://www.ncl.ac.uk/gps/geography/research/human/psp/interventions.htm.
I continue to work on the intersections between geopolitics, militarism and art, and have published a paper on the work of artist Fiona Banner, who has repeatedly used military aviation in her art.
I am also interested in the wider issue of transferable skills and the graduate skills agenda. To this end, I have developed a website for Newcastle Geography students to help them identify the transferable skills that completion of the various modes of assessment within our degree programmes can enable them to advance (makinggeographywork.ncl.ac.uk). I have also received funding (with Dr Simon Tate) from the Newcastle University teaching and learning Innovation Fund to develop video-based peer learning tools to enhance students' dissertation skills. These are used in our dissertation preparation module to enable our stage 2 students to hear the experiences of stage 3 students who have completed their dissertations.
My future research will continue to centre upon geographies of aviation and airspace in both historical and contemporary periods, and military geographies more widely. I have a developing interest in the historical geographies of military aviation in the North East of England, and plan to explore this further through archival research activities.
I also plan to continue my work on the graduate skills agenda and student employability, and the relationship between the university and the military.
Military, War and Security (faculty-level) Research Group - Convenor (2012-15)
Power, Space, Politics research cluster - Convenor (2012-15)
I welcome PhD enquires from students interested in undertaking research on geopolitics, military geographies, aerial geographies, and international boundaries. For more information see; http://www.ncl.ac.uk/gps/geography/postgrad/research/phdtopichg.html
Current and completed PhD supervisions
2008-12 : Matthew Rech - Critical geopolitics of RAF recruitment (ESRC)
2011-15: Daniel Bos - Popular geopolitics of military video games (ESRC DTC)
2012- : Panayiotis Hadjipavlis - Analysing the geopolitics of Cypriot airspace (part-time self-funded)
2013- : Matthew Scott - Technogeopolitics and the Berlin-Baghdad Railway (ESRC DTC)
2015-: Hannah Lyons - Young people, religion and popular geopolitics (ESRC DTC)
2013-14: Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence award (c.£15,000) Visualising Military Airspaces (PI; artist Dr Matthew Flintham)
2013-2014: Catherine Cookson Foundation (£700) Historical geographies of military aviation in the north-east (scoping study)
2012-15: ESRC Research Grant (c.£270,000) 'The value of University Armed Service Units' (PI; Co-I Prof Rachel Woodward; Co-I & SRA Dr Neil Jenkings) ES/J023868/1
2011-12: Newcastle University Teaching and Learning Committee Innovation Fund (c. £3000) 'Learning from Research Practice: developing a web-based video resource that will provide Geography dissertation students with examples of how Geography staff and postgrads do their research' (with Simon Tate)
2009-2010: HaSS Faculty Research Fund (£3650) 'The graduate skills agenda and the university armed services experience'
2008-2011: ESRC Research Fellowship (c. £350,000 including PhD studentship)'The Geographies of Military Airspaces' - RES-063-27-0154
2001-2005: ESRC Open Competition PhD funding (c. £40,000)'Aviation Technogeopolitics and the Territorialisation of the Pacific as US Space, 1918-1941'- R42200134521
For 2016-17 I will be teaching on the following modules
GEO2047 Political Geography
GEO2111 Doing Geographical Research
GEO3102 Geopolitics (Module Leader)
GEO8017 Human Geography: Concepts in Action
- Rech MF, Jenkings KN, Williams AJ, Woodward R. An Introduction to Military Research Methods. In: Williams, AJ; Jenkings, KN; Woodward, R; Rech, MF, ed. The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods. London: Routledge, 2016, pp.1-17.
- Rech MF, Williams AJ. Researching at military airshows: a dialogue about ethnography and autoethnography. In: Williams,AJ;Jenkings,KN;Rech,MF;Woodward,R, ed. The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods. London: Routledge, 2016, pp.268-284.
- Williams AJ. The Empire's Edge: Militarization, Resistance, and Transcending Hegemony in the Pacific (Book Review). Geographical Review 2016, (ePub ahead of Print).
- Williams AJ, Jenkings KN, Woodward R, Rech MF, ed. The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods. London: Routledge, 2016.
- Woodward R, Jenkings KN, Williams AJ. The UK armed forces and the value of the university armed service units. RUSI Journal 2016, 161(1), 32-39.
- Rech MF, Bos D, Jenkings KN, Williams A, Woodward R. Geography, military geography and critical military studies. Critical Military Studies 2015, 1(1), 47-60.
- Woodward R, Jenkings KN, Williams AJ. The Value of the University Armed Service Units. London, UK: Ubiquity Press, 2015.
- Williams AJ. Disrupting air power: performativity and the unsettling of geopolitical frames through artworks. Political Geography 2014, 42, 12-22.
- Pugh J, Gabay C, Williams AJ. Beyond the securitisation of development: The limits of intervention, developmentisation of security and repositioning of purpose in the UK Coalition Government’s policy agenda. Geoforum 2013, 44, 193-201.
- Adey P, Whitehead M, Williams AJ, ed. From Above: war, violence and verticality. London: Hurst, 2013.
- Williams AJ, Jeffrey A, McConnell F, Megoran N, Askins K, Gill N, Nash C, Pande R. Interventions in teaching political geography: reflections on practice. Political Geography 2013, 34, 24-34.
- Williams AJ. Re-Orientating Vertical Geopolitics. Geopolitics 2013, 18(1), 225-246.
- Adey P, Whitehead M, Williams AJ. Air-Target: distance, reach and the politics of verticality. Theory, Culture and Society 2011, 28(7-8), 173-187.
- Williams AJ. Blurring Boundaries/Sharpening Borders: Analysing the US’s Use of Military Aviation Technologies to Secure International Borders, 2001-2008. In: Wastl-Walter, D, ed. The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011, pp.283-300.
- Williams AJ. Enabling persistent presence? Performing the embodied geopolitics of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle assemblage. Political Geography 2011, 30(7), 381-390.
- Jenkings KN, Woodward R, Williams AJ, Rech M, Murphy A, Bos D. Military Occupations: Methodological approaches and the Military-Academy research nexus. Sociology Compass 2011, 5(1), 37-51.
- Ward K, Anderson B, Coward M, Sheller M, Williams AJ, Cresswell T, Adey P. Reading Peter Adey's Aerial Life. Political Geography 2011, 30(8), 461-469.
- Williams AJ. Reconceptualising spaces of the air: performing the multiple spatialities of UK military airspaces. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 2011, 36(2), 253-267.
- Williams AJ. A crisis in aerial sovereignty? Considering the implications of recent military violations of national airspace. Area 2010, 42(1), 51-59.
- Williams AJ. Beyond the Sovereign Realm: the geopolitics and power relations in and of outer space. Geopolitics 2010, 15(4), 785-793.
- Williams AJ. Flying the flag: Pan American Airways and the projection of US power across the interwar Pacific. In: MacDonald, F.; Hughes, R.; Dodds, K, ed. Observant states: geopolitics and visual culture. London: I B Tauris, 2010, pp.81-99.
- Elden S, Williams AJ. The territorial integrity of Iraq, 2003-2007: invocation, violation, viability. Geoforum 2009, 40(3), 407-417.
- Donaldson JW, Williams AJ. Delimitation and demarcation: analysing the legacy of Stephen B. Jones’s Boundary-Making. Geopolitics 2008, 13(4), 676-700.
- Williams AJ. Hakumat al Tayarrat: the role of air power in the enforcement of Iraq's borders. Geopolitics 2007, 12(3), 505-528.
- Bialasiewicz L, Campbell D, Elden S, Graham S, Jeffrey AS, Williams AJ. Performing security: the imaginative geographies of current US strategy. Political Geography 2007, 26(4), 405-422.
- Donaldson JW, Williams AJ. Understanding maritime jurisdictional disputes: the East China Sea and beyond. Journal of International Affairs 2005, 59(1), 135-156.