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School of Geography

Nichola Wood Dr Nichola Wood

Contact details

Room 10.110 Irene Manton Building
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK

Email:
n.x.wood

Telephone:
+44 (0) 113 34 33348

Student hours:
I operate an open door policy. To see me at other times please email me to book an appointment.

Work in progress

Current projects

Emotional (re)productions of 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. My work constitutes an original contribution 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. Through my work on emotions I have been invited to become a member of the editorial board of a new Elsevier journal entitled Emotion, Space and Society, which will be launched in 2008. I am also co-secretary of the new Society for the Study of Emotion, Affect and Space (SSEAS).

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 Theory my PhD research experiments 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'. My work in this area has formed the basis of two journal articles and a book chapter. More recently, I have been engaged in developing a social science research method with Dr Bonnie Meekums (School of Healthcare) that draws on influences from dance movement therapy and performative methods in an attempt to explore lived experiences of belonging. This work forms the basis of two papers, which are currently in preparation. 

Pragmatism and geography

Through my PhD research I have developed an interest in the radical potential of 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; 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 across the discipline, this style of working has received little attention by geographers. In order to try and address this situation Prof. Susan J. Smith (University of Durham) and I have co-edited a 'Pragmatism and Geography' theme issue of Geoforum, which will be published in 2008. The collection of papers considers the radicalism of Pragmatism; its relevance for human geography and its capacity to change the world.

Future research

The geographies of children's citizenship education

Working with Prof. Gill Valentine I am currently developing a research project that critically assesses: (a) the impact of school-based citizenship education on children's understandings of, and engagements with citizenship and (b) the usefulness of citizenship education in promoting civil renewal and social cohesion. 

Grants

European research council

Lived Experience: the Transmission of Attitudes Towards Difference (Project B of LIVEDIFFERENCE)
Principal Investigator, Gill Valentine; co-investigator, Nichola Wood; research fellow, Joanna Sadgrove.

We are witnessing unprecedented levels of mobility and population change within and beyond the European Union. In this context, it is argued that how we develop the capacity to live with difference is the key issue of the 21st century. The LIVEDIFFERENCE research programme involves five inter‐linked projects which will explore the extent and nature of everyday encounters with ‘difference’, by each collecting original data in the UK (a post‐colonial European state) and Poland (a post-communist European state). The findings are intended to provide an integrated evidence base that will inform European policies and strategies for living with difference. 

Drawing on research conducted in Leeds and Warsaw Project B will unpack people’s lived experiences of difference in order to gain a better understanding of the nature and significance of these encounters; people’s experiences of discrimination and exclusion and the processes through which attitudes (positive or negative) towards ‘others’ are transmitted and/or interrupted. The research will draw on an analysis of in-depth life history interviews, audio-diaries and follow-up interviews to explore in more detail: the emotionality of encounters; the extent to which banal everyday experiences with individuals who are different from themselves might lead people to generalise about whole social groups in positive or negative directions; and to link everyday lived experiences back to life histories and wider material/social circumstances. Using this methodology the project will be able to track people’s attitudes over ‘real time’, stretching knowledge of the informants over a greater time period and so capturing changes in lives/attitudes.