Nast, Heidi J.

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Nast, Heidi J.


Education: University of Texas, B.Sc.; McGill University, M.Sc., Ph.D.


Office—International Studies Program, DePaul University, 990 W. Fullerton, Dietzgen Bldg., Rm. 2105, Chicago, IL 60614-3298. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, educator. DePaul University, Chicago, IL, assistant professor of international studies, 1995—. Fellow, Centre for Developing Area Studies, McGill University, 1986-88; visiting assistant professor, University of Kentucky, 1994-95; fellow, Northwestern University, 1999 and 2000-01. Has presented papers at professional conferences, including the annual meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Institute of British Geographers, Geological Association of Canada/Mineralogical Association of Canada, African Studies Association, and Association of American Geographers. Lecturer at Syracuse University, University of Miami of Ohio, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Pennsylvania State University, University of London, University of North Carolina, University of British Columbia, University of Chicago, Kent State University, Ohio State University, and Tulane University.


Association of American Geographers (cochair of Sexuality and Space Specialty Group, 1997-99), Sigma Xi, Phi Beta Kappa.


IREM/MERI (Mineral Exploration Research Institute) fellowship, 1983; travel grant, Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council, 1991; travel grant, Canadian Association of Geographers, 1992; National Science Foundation grant, 1994-95; grant, University Research Council, DePaul University, 1996, 1997-98, 2000, and 2001; Multicultural Initiative grant, Quality of Instruction Council, DePaul University, 1997-2001; Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize, African Studies Association Women's Caucus, for Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace.


(Editor, with John Paul Jones and Susan Roberts) Thresholds in Feminist Geography, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1997.

(Editor, with Steve Pile) Places through the Body, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.

Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Bodyspace: Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality, Routledge (London, England), 1996; and Thinking Space, Routledge (London, England), 2000. Contributor to journals, including Antipode, Historical Geography, Professional Geographer, Journal of Geographic Education, and Economic Geology. Member of editorial board, Journal of Historical Geography, 1998—, Historical Geography, 1998—, Antipode, 1999—, and Qualitative Methods, 1999—.


Heidi J. Nast is an assistant professor of international studies at DePaul University in Chicago. She has also been a fellow at the Centre for Developing Area Studies at McGill University, visiting assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, and a fellow at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Her research centers on geographical studies of sexuality and gender issues.

With John Paul Jones and Susan Roberts, Nast edited the collection Thresholds in Feminist Geography. The essays gathered here explore the concept of feminist geography using various approaches. Contributors address how such topics as class, race, sexuality, and the environment are perceived by feminist geographers. Writing in Economic Geography, Pamela Moss called the book "a landmark volume in the history of geographic thought and incredibly useful in understanding the positionings of women in the economy."

Nast and Steve Pile edited Places through the Body. The two authors explained the concept for the book in its introduction: "We all have bodies and we are all some place. But let us not be so hasty, so quick to assume that this just about covers the story of bodies and places…. Sure, we all have bodies, but the idea that we have bodies—that bodies are a possession that the individual has—is culturally, historically and geographically specific. Further, the impression that the individual is located in a body and that being in a body is also about being in a place warrants further scrutiny."

In Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace, Nast examines the role of concubines at the Hausa kingdom's Kano Palace of Nigeria. Several hundred concubines lived in the royal palace and Nast finds that they helped to insure the stability of the kingdom. They came from different parts of the country and served to draw more distant areas into the center of the kingdom. Their children were born free and were able to inherit the throne, which encouraged concubines and their far-flung families to support and promote the established government. The king treated these offspring well because he saw these freeborn children as useful in creating political alliances through marriage. Nast also argues that concubines monopolized the production of indigo cloth, an important industry in Nigeria at the time. Writing in Africa, John Edward Philips found Concubines and Power to be "an important and useful little book that should be of interest to scholars in many fields." Philip Howell in Cultural Geographies called Concubines and Power "an imaginative and innovative contribution to cultural geography." According to Barbara M. Cooper in Africa Today, "Nast has written a refreshing study of the history of the Kano Palace—a study that challenges much received wisdom about the character of power in the Hausa kingdoms."

In her introduction to the book, Nast explains how her study differs from those of similar works: "The work is pioneering in several overlapping ways. First, the work demonstrates how human geographical methods can be developed and used in contexts such as the Kano palace, where no archaeological work has been accomplished and no relevant primary sources exist, to elicit new sources and data about the past…. The book is similarly pioneering in its theoretical premise, namely, that in agrarian-based state contexts reproduction moves history…. A third pioneering aspect of the work has to do with the new empirical finds occasioned by the geographical method."



Africa, summer, 2006, John Edward Philips, review of Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace, p. 450.

Africa Today, fall, 2006, Barbara M. Cooper, review of Concubines and Power, p. 147.

Annals of the Association of American Geographers, December, 1999, Vera Chouinard, review of Thresholds in Feminist Geography, p. 794.

Cultural Geographies, Volume 14, number 1, 2007, Philip Howell, review of Concubines and Power, pp. 14-15.

Economic Geography, April, 1999, Pamela Moss, review of Thresholds in Feminist Geography, p. 203.

Professional Geographer, August, 1998, Doreen J. Mattingly, review of Thresholds in Feminist Geography, p. 395.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2005, review of Concubines and Power, p. 142.

Signs, autumn, 1999, Liz Bondi, review of Thresholds in Feminist Geography, p. 246.


DePaul University Web site, (May 14, 2008), author profile.