• Room 02.034 - Geography Building

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applicants in the fields of: Public memory and Space Historical Geographies of Natural History Nationalism and Ireland Geography and Fictional Literature

1989 …2020

Research output per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research Interests

I joined QUB in 1996 having held lectureships in Human Geography at Loughborough University (1990-91) and University College London (1991-1996). I am an historical and political geographer working in three distinct but related areas of scholarship  (i) the relationships between identity politics and representation; (ii) the spaces of scientific knowledge and the role of aesthetics; and (iii) place and nationalism.

These three strands of my research have been anchored in the following projects. Firstly, I continue to develop the conceptual and empirical dimensions of the performance of social memory with respect to public monuments, museums and heritage venues. My contributions to this research theme are demonstrated by the publication of articles in the key journals in my field (e.g. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Journal of Historical Geography) and in my monograph Ireland, the Great War and the Geography of Remembrance published by Cambridge University Press (2003/ reprinted 2007). William Jenkins observed in his review for the Journal of Interdisciplinary History that “this book offers valuable new insights and methodical directions for future historical and interdisciplinary studies. Its many illustrations add to the reading experience and, all in all, Johnson navigates through a variety of sources and analyzes events with great skill to produce an innovative and cogently argued piece of work.” James Loughlin found it “a challenging, highly stimulating and valuable contribution to an increasingly popular field of inquiry” (European History Quarterly); Joshua Hagen judged it to be “an excellent piece of scholarship” (Professional Geographer); and David C. Harvey thought it “a thoroughly readable and highly original monograph that leaves the reader very much enlightened but also still curious – like all good books, the reader will go away with more questions than they started with” (Progress in Human Geography). My 1995 journal article on monuments and nationalism has been re-printed in two edited collections.

The second strand of my research congregates around the development and design of botanical gardens as sites in which the relationship between science and beauty in the formation of natural history knowledge is practised. This body of work builds on and significantly extends current research on the borderlines between geography and science studies and has culminated in the publication of my second monograph, the 267-page Nature Displaced, Nature Displayed: Order and Beauty in Botanical Gardens published by I.B. Tauris in 2011 which attracted the following judgment by the University of Cambridge geographer James S. Duncan: “Nuala Johnson’s masterful ethnography of three sites where the canons of science and aesthetics are refracted and blurred demonstrates why a geographical imagination matters. This is comparative history at its best.” I am currently examining the relationship between gender, empire and natural history in the context of early twentieth-century Burma.

The third theme of my research has focused on the role of place in the articulation of nationalist identities and has been rooted in analyses of education policy and language, literary geographies and identity, and the role of the heritage industry in representing a nation’s past. Drawing conceptually from Antonio Gramsci’s thesis on the development of ‘organic intellectuals’ in the harnessing of nationalist politics, this work has resulted in the publication of several key papers in the leading academic journals in the discipline (e.g. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Political Geography, Environment and Planning D, Social and Cultural Geography).



Keynote Speaker, Conference of Irish Geographers 2016.

‘Outstanding Academic Title for 2014’ by Choice:  Johnson, N.C. Schein R, and Winders J. (eds.) 2013 Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Cultural Geography Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy 2014

Nordic Research Course, Trondheim, Norway (Keynote speaker), 2008

Visiting Scholar, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, 2005

Visiting Fellow, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, 2005

Ellen Churchill Semple Lecture - 'In honor of exceptional accomplishment and commitment to the discipline of Geography', Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, 2005.

Historical Geography Research Group [RGS-IBG], Post-graduate Training Conference, Senate House, London (Keynote/plenary speaker), 2003

Visiting Scholar: Cultural Geography Training Programme for Post-Graduates, Department of Geography, University of Lund, Sweden, 1992

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Nuala Johnson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 1 Similar Profiles

Research Output

Historical Geography of War

Johnson, N., 01 Jan 2020, Encyclopedia of Human Geography . Koyayashi, A. (ed.). 2nd ed. Elsevier, p. 219-224

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Trekking around Upper Burma: Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe's Exploration of the Frontier Districts 1903

Johnson, N., Jun 2020, Empire and Mobility in the Long Nineteenth Century. Lambert, D. & Merriman, P. (eds.). Manchester : Manchester University Press

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

How I became a historical geographer

Johnson, N., 2019, RGS-IBG Historical Geography Research Group Newsletter , Autumn 2019 , p. 2-4.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

The Historical Geography of War

Johnson, N., 04 Dec 2019, International Encyclopedia of Human Geography . Kobayashi, A. (ed.). 2nd ed. Elsevier, p. 219-225 9 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Illustrating Nature: Exploration, Natural History and the Travels of Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe in Burma

Johnson, N., 2018, (Accepted) Geographies of Knowledge: Science, Scale and Spatiality in the Nineteenth Century. Mayhew, R. & Withers, C. (eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy

Johnson, Nuala (Recipient), 2014

Prize: Election to learned society

First Place in Geography Undergraduate Degree

Johnson, Nuala (Recipient), 1980

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


UCAS Open Day Lisburn

Nuala Johnson (Participant)

26 Feb 2020

Activity: Other activity typesHosting a school group or open day

External Examiner: Geography Undergraduate Degree Programme

Nuala Johnson (Examiner)


Activity: Examination typesUG external examination

Geography Offer Holder Applicant Day for GB Students

Nuala Johnson (Host)

01 Feb 2020

Activity: Other activity typesHosting a school group or open day

First World War Studies (Journal)

Nuala Johnson (Referee)

14 Jul 2020

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

North-South Committee of Royal Irish Academy (External organisation)

Nuala Johnson (Member)


Activity: Membership typesMembership of national or international committees and working groups


Making the past : history, identity, and the cultural politics of the Ulster Folk Museum

Author: Robinson, E., Dec 2000

Supervisor: Livingstone, D. N. (Supervisor) & Johnson, N. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy