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Nancy Hiemstra
Assistant Professor  

 2058a Humanities Building
  Spring 2018 Office Hours: 
 Mondays 9:45 - 11:45 a.m.
 Wednesdays 9:45 - 10:45 a.m.
 and by appointment  

I am a political and cultural geographer, and my interests include global migration, immigration enforcement practices, homeland security, 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 SpaceGeopolitics, 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:  Detain and Deport: A Transnational Ethnography of U.S. Immigration Enforcement.

Another project (with Dr. Deirdre Conlon) investigates the “intimate economies” of detention facilities in the greater New York City area, examining the micro-scale economies that develop in and around detention. We argue that consideration of how these relationships interlock with the privatization of carceral environments as well as processes of bureaucratization sheds important light on the expansion of detention regimes around the U.S. as well as globally. We have published article with initial findings in Geographica Helvetica; Territory, Politics, Governance, and have several chapters in edited books. Deirdre Conlon and I also edited a volume with contributions about detention around the world, Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention: Critical Perspectives, Routledge, 2016.

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  AntipodeSocial and Cultural Geography, and a chapter in  Immigrants Outside Megalopolis. I am also interested in the qualitative research process itself, especially the role of feminist epistemologies and methodologies. A co-authored article (with Emily Billo) including reflections on and lessons from fieldwork was published in  Gender, Place, and Culture. Another article on feminist research methods was published in 2016 in The Professional Geographer.

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.


Refereed Articles

Hiemstra, Nancy and Deirdre Conlon. 2017. Beyond privatization: bureaucratization and the spatialities of immigration detention expansion . Territory, Politics, Governance. *equal authorship

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2016. Periscoping as a feminist methodological approach for researching the seemingly hidden. The Professional Geographer.

Hiemstra, Nancy, and Emily Billo. 2016. Introduction: Feminist research and knowledge production in geography. Introductory article for co-edited special issue in The Professional Geographer, on feminist research in geography.

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2014. Performing Homeland (In)Security: Employee-Detainee Relationships within the Immigrant Detention Center. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 32: 571-588.

Conlon, Deirdre, and Nancy Hiemstra. 2014. Examining the Everyday Micro-economies of Migrant Detention in the United States. Geographica Helvetica (Special edition of Social Geography on “Criminality and carcerality across boundaries.”). 69: 335-344. *equal authorship

Mountz, Alison, and Nancy Hiemstra. 2014. Chaos and Crisis: Dissecting the Spatiotemporal Logics of Contemporary Migrations and State Practices. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 104 (2): 382-390. *equal authorship

Billo, Emily, and Nancy Hiemstra. 2013. Mediating Messiness: (Re)writing the Proposal in the Field. Gender, Place, and Culture. 20 (3): 313-328. *equal authorship

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2012. Geopolitical Reverberations of U.S. Migrant Detention and Deportation: The View from Ecuador. Geopolitics Special Issue: “Migration, Mobility and Geopolitics.” 17 (2): 293-311.

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2010. Immigrant “Illegality” and Neoliberal Governmentality in Leadville, CO. Antipode. 42 (1): 74-102.

Nelson, Lise, and Nancy Hiemstra. 2008. Latino Immigrants and the Renegotiation of Place and Belonging in Small Town America. Social & Cultural Geography. 9 (3): 319-342.

Book Chapters

Conlon, Deirdre, and Nancy Hiemstra. 2017. Mobility and Materialisation of the Carceral: Examining Immigration and Immigration Detention. In Carceral Mobilities: Interrogating Movement in Incarceration, edited by Jennifer Turner and Kimberly Peters, 100-114. Routledge.

Hiemstra, Nancy, and Deirdre Conlon. 2016. Captive consumers and coerced laborers: facility micro-economies and the expanding U.S. detention regime. In Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention: Critical Perspectives, edited by Deirdre Conlon and Nancy Hiemstra, 123-139. Routledge. *equal authorship

Hiemstra, Nancy and Alison Mountz. 2015. Slippery Slopes into Illegality and the Erosion of Citizenship in the United States. In The Human Right to Citizenship:  A Slippery Concept, edited by Rhoda E. Howard-Hassman and Margaret Walton-Roberts, 161-175. University of Pennsylvania Press. *equal authorship

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2013. “You don’t even know where you are”: Chaotic Geographies of U.S. Migrant Detention and Deportation. In Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention, edited by Dominique Moran, Nick Gill, and Deirdre Conlon, 57-75. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Mountz, Alison, and Nancy Hiemstra. 2012. Spatial Strategies for Rebordering Human Migration at Sea. In A Companion to Border Studies, edited by Thomas Wilson and Hastings Donnan, 455-472. Oxford: Blackwell. *equal authorship

Hiemstra, Nancy, and Alison Mountz. 2011 . Geopolitics. In A Companion to Social Geography, edited by Vincent Del Casino, Ruth Panelli, Paul Cloke, and Mary Thomas, 421-436. Oxford: Blackwell. *equal authorship

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2008. Spatial Disjunctures and Division in the New West: Latino Immigration to Leadville, CO. In Immigrants Outside Megalopolis: Ethnic Transformation in the Heartland, edited by Richard C. Jones, 89-113. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.


Conlon, Deirdre, and Nancy Hiemstra, editors. 2016. Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention: Critical Perspectives. NY: Routledge. *equal editorship

 Hiemstra, Nancy. Detain and Deport: A Transnational Ethnography of U.S. Immigration Enforcement. Monograph in preparation.

Public Scholarship

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2016. This is Fear: ICE Raids on Parents and Children. Huffington Post, HuffPost Politics Blog (Opinion piece): January 8.

Hiemstra, Nancy. 2012. U.S. and Ecuador: Is Intervention on the Table? NACLA Report on the Americas 45 (4): 20-24.


Additional Links:  

 Academia page,

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