At UC Berkeley, Gillian Hart served as the co-Chair of the undergraduate development studies major (1996-2016) and participated in the process of its change into the global studies major. Hart also chaired for the Center for African Studies (1998-2003), which was established as an Organized Research Unit and linked the Center with the Department of African American Studies. She also held faculty positions at the University of Kwazulu-Natal where she helped establish one of the first coursework in master’s programs as an Honorary Professor. In 2016, Hart was appointed as a Distinguished Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Hart’s research explores her interests in political economy, social theory, critical development studies, gender, agrarian and regional studies, labor, Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia. Before becoming a geographer, Hart began her academic career as an economist, exploring economistic and Eurocentric understandings of agrarian change in Java, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, in which questions of gender and power were examined. After being introduced to debates in critical human geography, she began conducting research in the Post-Apartheid South Africa where she wrote books that explore the discourses of globalization and the alternatives to neoliberalism. In 2018 Hart was awarded the Vega Medal by the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography for contributions to human geography. Currently, she is writing a book on resurgent nationalisms and populist politics in South Africa, India, and the United States since the end of the Cold War.
Hart holds a doctorate degree in political economy, social theory, and critical human geography from Cornell University.