Nancy Hiemstra


I am a political and cultural geographer, and my interests include global migration, immigration enforcement practices, homeland security, processes of racialization, constructions of borders and sovereignty, Latin America, and feminist epistemology and methodologies.

My ethnographically-based research broadly examines ways in which state policies shape patterns and socio-cultural consequences of human mobility. An ongoing project identifies the embodied consequences of destination countries’ immigration enforcement policies in countries of migrant origin. It focuses on the reverberations of U.S. migrant detention and deportation practices in Ecuador, and critically considers the relationship between ideas of homeland security and daily experiences of insecurity. The findings and arguments developed through this work have been published in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Geopolitics, a co-authored piece in Annals of the Association of American Geographers, a co-authored chapter in A Companion to Border Studies, and a chapter in Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention. This research is also the subject of a book manuscript in process, tentatively titled: Thinking Beyond Borders: Why Detention and Deportation are Part of America’s ‘Immigration Problem’. A new project (with Dr. Deirdre Conlon) investigates the “intimate economies” of detention facilities in the greater New York City area.

Another area of research investigates ways in which shifts in immigrant destinations are transforming social and political landscapes in the United States. I draw on fieldwork in small-town Colorado to explore ways in which constructions of "illegality" shape immigrant and non-immigrant interactions. Publications from this project include articles in Antipode, Social and Cultural Geography, and a chapter in Immigrants Outside Megalopolis. I am also interested in the qualitative research process itself, especially thinking through how theory influences method and vice versa. A co-authored article including reflections on and lessons from fieldwork was published in Gender, Place, and Culture. Additional projects consider the outward elasticity of borders through immigration enforcement, morphing ideas of sovereignty, and how destination countries’ immigration policies influence migrants’ decisions and migration paths.

Finally, my teaching emphasizes global interconnectedness between communities, regions, and nations while considering the unique histories, gendered sociospatial relations, and political realities of individual places. I aim to create a dynamic classroom where students can connect what they are learning to personal experience.



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