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Faculty of Social Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Nick Bingham

Dr Nick Bingham
Faculty of Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom
MK7 6AA

Senior Lecturer

Geography

Profile

After seven years studying at the Department of Geography of the University of Bristol (first as an undergraduate then as a postgraduate), I worked for two years as a research associate at the University of Sheffield before moving to the OU in 1999. I am currently convenor of the discipline’s Materialities collaboratory and the Postgraduate Tutor.

Qualifications

BSc (Bristol), PhD (Bristol)

Course development and teaching

I have worked on the last three courses that the Geography Discipline at the OU has been involved in producing. Currently, I am working on the mid-life review of the pathbreaking second level interdisciplinary course Environment: Change, Contest, and Response (U216) for which I was one of original editors and wrote the chapters on both risk and uncertainty in environmental issues, and the politics of the GM crops controversy (which are available in the course texts co-published by Wiley). Before that I was a member of the course team producing the new DVD-led second level Geography course Living in a Globalised World (DD205), for which I contributed a chapter on bioprospecting. And prior to that, at the same time as working on the original production of U216, I was heavily involved with making Human Geography, Philosophy and Social Theory, the innovative Master’s level module on thinking conceptually through the process of research, authoring the chapter on ‘writing reflexively’ in the course text Using Social Theory (available through Sage).

Research interests

My research consists of an attempt (or rather a series of attempts) to explore the ‘challenging geographies’ that emerge once the social is not assumed to be a solely human construction.

This longstanding interest in taking seriously the sociality of nonhumans was initially provoked whilst researching people’s use of networked computing during the 1990s. Specifically I became frustrated by how difficult it was to talk about the intimacy with which we are bound up with the objects that surround us without falling into the parallel traps of technological determinism or social construction. This led to a search for ways of better getting at how we are in several senses always ‘in the midst of things’. More recently, in a series of papers on the contestations around genetically modified crops, I have sought to build on this initial work by examining what the entanglement of scientific and political representation in sociotechnical controversies can tell us about being collectively as well as individually situated in media res.

Both the conceptual and methodological commitment to practice developed in these projects, and the tactic of thinking through particular cases feed directly into my present work which has two main strands:

  • the making of biosecurities (a collaboration with my colleague Steve Hinchliffe). The concern here is, on the one hand, with tracing the diverse assemblages of human and nonhumans involved in the travels of avian influenza, and, on the other, with investigating what the relations between these assemblages might tell us about how scientific, state, and biophysical activities are currently being rearticulated.
  • the cosmopolitics of coexisitence (a collaboration with the artist Anne-Marie Culhane). The concern here is to work between social science and artistic practices to find ways of elaborating what other models of ‘living together’ are being marginalised in the attempted reduction of the question of whether GM and organic forms of farming can work alongside each other to a technical matter concerning separation distances.

All my work is informed by an ongoing effort to triangulate productively between certain threads of philosophical, science and technology studies, and geographical literatures, in particular the thought of Annemarie Mol, John Law, Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Michel Serres, and Jean Luc Nancy.

I'm a member of the OpenSpace Research Centre.

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Hinchliffe, Steve; Allen, John; Lavau, Stephanie; Bingham, Nick and Carter, Simon (2013). Biosecurity and the topologies of infected life: from borderlines to borderlands. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38(4) pp. 531–543.

Bingham, Nick and Lavau, Stephanie (2012). The object of regulation: tending the tensions of food safety. Environment and Planning A, 44(7) pp. 1589–1606.

Hinchliffe, Stephen and Bingham, Nick (2008). Securing life: the emerging practices of biosecurity. Environment and Planning A, 40(7) pp. 1534–1551.

Hinchliffe S, Bingham N, (2008). ‘Mapping the multiplicities of biosecurity’, in Keil R, Ali H (Eds) Networked Disease: Emerging Infections in the Global City  (Blackwell, Oxford).

Bingham N, Hinchliffe S, (2008). ‘Reconstituting natures: articulating other modes of living together', Geoforum 39(1): 83-87.

Bingham N, (2008). ‘Slowing things down: lessons from the GM controversy’, Geoforum 39(1): 111-122.

Bingham N, (2006). ‘Bees, butterflies, and bacteria: biotechnology and the politics of nonhuman friendship’, Environment and Planning A, 38 pp483-498

Bingham N, (2006). ‘Bioprospecting and the global entanglement of people, plants and pills’, in Clark N, Massey D, Sarre P (Eds) A World in the Making (OU coursebook for DD205 ‘Living in a Globalised World’)

Bingham N., (2006). 'Sociotechnical', in Sibley D, Jackson P, Atkinson D, Washbourne N (Eds), Cultural Geography: A Critical Dictionary of Key Ideas (I.B.Tauris, London) pp200-205

Bingham N, (2003). 'Writing reflexively', in Pryke M, Rose G, Whatmore S (Eds), Using Social Theory (Sage, London) pp145-162

Bingham N, (2003). 'Food fights: On power, contest, and GM', in Bingham N, Blowers A, Belshaw C (Eds), pp3-42

Bingham N, Blowers A, Belshaw C (Eds), (2003). Contested Environments (Wiley, London)

Bingham N, Blackmore R, (2003). 'What to do? How risk and uncertainty affect environmental responses', in Hinchliffe S, Blowers A, Freeland J (Eds) Understanding Environmental Issues (Wiley, London) pp127-164

Bingham N, (2002). 'In the belly of the monster: Frankenstein, food, factisches and fiction', in Kitchen R, Kneale J (Eds), Lost in Space: Geographies of Science Fiction (Continuum, London) pp180-192

Bingham N, Valentine G, Holloway S, (2001). 'Life around the screen: re-framing young people's use of the internet', in Watson N, Cunningham-Burley S (Eds), Reframing Bodies (Palgrave Macmillan, London) pp228-243

Bingham N, Thrift N, (2000). 'New directions for travellers: On Michel Serres and Bruno Latour', in Crang M, Thrift N (Eds) Thinking Space (Routledge, London) pp281-301

Bingham N, Valentine G, Holloway S, (1999). 'Where do you want to tomorrow? Connecting children and the Internet', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, vol. 17 no. 6 pp655-672

Bingham N, (1999). 'Unthinkable complexity? Cyberspace otherwise', in Crang M, Crang P, May J (Eds), Virtual Geographies (Routledge, London) pp244-260

Bingham N, (1996). 'Object-ions: from technological determinism towards geographies of relations', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, vol. 14, no. 6, pp635-657 reprinted in Thrift N and Whatmore S (Eds), (2004). Cultural Geography: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences (Routledge, London)

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Last updated: 29 April 2014