Richard Nisa

In the fall, I will begin working as Special Faculty in the IDeATe Program at Carnegie Mellon University. For the past decade, I was an Associate Professor of geography in the Department of Social Sciences and History at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where I was named the 2018 Becton College Teacher of the Year and received the 2019 Outstanding Honors Faculty Award for the Florham Campus. In addition to my classrooms at FDU (and soon CMU), I've had transformative teaching experiences (through the NJSTEP program) inside three New Jersey prisons, where I ran a few sections of a course on the history of mass surveillance. For the past year I have been the Chair of the Urban Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers.

My days are passed fumbling through the challenges of parenthood, teaching, and writing on a host of issues at the interface between geography, history, and architecture. As I am my university’s sole geographer, I emphasize interdisciplinarity and collaboration in my pedagogy, and my classes are frequently cross-listed in several disciplines, including history, government, economics, sociology, and criminology. At FDU, I was the lead author of the program rationale, objectives, assessment framework, and curriculum map of our recently-approved interdisciplinary Environmental Studies major, and am excited to welcome new students as the director of the major in the Fall of 2023.

My scholarship explores the intersections of detainment, infrastructure, logistics and circulation, and design in an array of historical and political contexts. I am currently working on my first book, The Global Capture Chain: Infrastructures of U.S.-Managed Military Detainment from Truman to Trump, which explores the circulatory, political, and technological systems that constitute U.S.-managed wartime detainment spaces. My work has been published in venues as varied as The Journal of Historical Geography and the edited volume Algorithmic Life: Calculative Devices in the Age of Big Data. I am currently co-editing an issue of Radical History Review on the theme of “The Political Lives of Infrastructure,” due out in October 2023.

The capture chain: Enemy Prisoner Handling and Accountability in South Vietnam, 1970

Before beginning my life as an academic, I worked full-time as an architect and freelance graphic designer in New York, Paris, and Iowa. I was an award-winning designer, and in the intervening years I've presented work in the Schools of Architecture at Yale and Syracuse and been on several design juries at Harvard, Syracuse, Pratt, and City College. I still find time to design—fitting in small projects here and there and nourishing my love of furniture design and woodworking. I currently live in Philly.

My CV is here.
Or you can email me.
I'm @rnisa on Bluesky Social.
For the time being, I'm also on Twitter: @nisaface.


This website would not have come into existence without a good deal of coding help from my friends Josh and Mandy. They are amazing. Anything on this site that looks bad or functions poorly is solely my doing.

The font face used throughout is Adelle Greek, designed in 2009 by Veronika Burian, José Scaglione, and Irene Vlachouand. It is served to the page with Adobe Typekit.

Map detail: Exchanges: Journal of Literary Translation, Summer 2004