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The Australian National University

Dr David Bissell

BA Hons (Cambridge), MA (Durham), PhD (Durham)
Visiting Fellow
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 3 8344 3889

Areas of expertise

  • Human Geography 1604
  • Social And Cultural Geography 160403
  • Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology 160808
  • Cultural Theory 200204
  • Sociology 1608

Research interests

David Bissell is Associate Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. He combines qualitative research on embodied practices with social theory to explore the social, political and ethical consequences of mobile lives.

His current research draws on cultural geography and mobilities research to investigate contemporary social problems involving mobility-labour relationships. Recent and forthcoming research projects are about the impact of commuting on cities; how mobile working practices are reshaping the home; and how new forms of workplace artificial intelligence are impacting on employment futures and family mobilities.

He is the Steering Committee Chair for AusMob, the new Australian Mobilities Research Network. 


David graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2003 with a BA in Geography. He undertook his ESRC-funded postgraduate studies at Durham University, graduating with a Masters in Research Methods in 2004 and a PhD in Human Geography in 2008.

He was a lecturer in human geography in the School of Environment and Technology at the University of Brighton between 2008 and 2009, and then senior lecturer in sociology at the Australian National University between 2009 and 2017. He moved to the University of Melbourne in 2017.

Originally from Norfolk, he is grateful for the inspiration that Stalham High School and the City of Norwich School provided. 

Researcher's projects

Transforming commuting mobilities

For the past four years I have been working on a project exploring how commuting is impacting on people’s lives in Sydney, Australia. The culmination of this project is a monograph on urban commuting mobilities. The part of the project that I am currently working on is exploring the politics of how future transport infrastructures materialise over time. Part of this is about broadening the concept of waiting to think about the temporalities of transport infrastructures in cities. This builds on my previous work on the figure of the passenger (with Peter Adey, Peter Merriman, Derek McCormack and Eric Laurier). As a part of this project, I am exploring (with Gillian Fuller) how future mobility infrastructures are materialised through different visualisations which builds on our previous work on stillness. This project is supported by ARC DE120102279 and ran between 2012 and 2015.

Embodied, affective life and politics of the negative

A consistent theme through my work has been how social theories of embodied, affective life can pose new problems for thought. To this end I am currently developing a book project (with Paul Harrison and Mitch Rose) on the politics of the negative, based on a conference session that was held at the AAG in 2014). Conceptually, this builds on a project that explored habit (with JD Dewsbury), and securitisation (with Maria Hynes and Scott Sharpe). It also builds on my previous work on pain and exhaustion.

Living apart together: how mobile work is transforming home

Starting mid-2016, this project (with Andrew Gorman-Murray) will explore how diverse mobile working practices are transforming conceptions of home. Related to this project, I am exploring long-distance commuting through the concept of intensive mobilities (with Ole B. Jensen and Phillip Vannini). A session at the AAG in 2016 (with Francis Collins) aims to bring migration and mobilities researchers together around the theme of work mobilities. This project is supported by ARC DP160103771 and will run between 2016 and 2019.

Enhanced humans, robotics and the future of work

Starting 2016, this project (with Anthony Elliott, Thomas Birtchnell and John Urry) will explore the social consequences of robotics and artificial intelligence on employment futures. We will be looking at how different sorts of interrelated mobilities can provide a lens through which to understand the evolving relationships between bodies and technologies in the workplace. This project is supported by ARC DP160100979 and will run between 2016 and 2020.

Available student projects

I am interested in supervising projects on any aspects of mobilities research.

Current student projects

Catherine Ayres PhD Candidate. Vibrant landscapes: practices, ecologies, and politics of national parks in Australia. Awarded 2016

Kaima Negishi PhD Candidate. Smiling for Control: understanding smiling, comfort and security in Japanese railway stations. Awarded 2017

Anna Tsalapatanis PhD Candidate. Encountering Bureaucracy, Imaginaries, and Address: Understanding Citizenship through Lived Lives. Submitted 2016

Anne Baker PhD Candidate. Understanding how mobile work is transforming Australian homes:household transitions. Commenced 2016

Vickie Zhang PhD Candidate. Commenced 2017 


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  18 November 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers