Esther Leah Gabara

Esther Leah Gabara

E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Romance Studies

External address: 
212 Language Center, Department of Romance Studies, Durham, NC 27708-0257
Internal office address: 
Box 90257, Department of Romance Studies, Durham, NC 27708-0257
(919) 660-3100
Office Hours: 
Tuesdays 10:30-12 and by appointment. Location varies between 212 Languages and Global Brazil Lab, Smith Warehouse, Bay 5.


Esther Gabara works with art, literature, and visual culture from modern and contemporary Latin America. Central issues in her research are the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, theories and practices of non-mainstream modernisms, and representations of race and gender. Her teaching in the departments of Romance Studies and Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University covers visual theory, Latin American modernism, photography, Pop Art, Mexican feminism, and contemporary art and cultural production in the Americas. Currently she is working on a book manuscript, "Non-Literary Fiction: Invention and Interventions in Contemporary Art of the Americas," preparing an exhibition on Pop Art in the Americas, and researching the contemporary articulation of the colonial relationship between Latin America and Spain through the prism of art, economics, and immigration.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Stanford University 2001

  • Helena Rubenstein Fellow in Critical Theory, Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art 1998 - 1999

  • M.A., Stanford University 1997

  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania 1993

Lasch, BP, Aravamudan, EBS, Jennifer Gonzalez, AM, Mignolo, W, and Sigal, P. Black Mirror/Espejo Negro. Nasher Museum of Art and the Franklin Humanities Institute, distributed by Duke University Press, 2010.

Gabara, E. Errant Modernism: The Ethos of Photography in Mexico and Brazil. Duke University Press, November 2008.

Gabara, EL. "Photography, Avant-Garde and Modernity." A Companion to Modern and Contemporary Latin American & Latino Art. Ed. A Anreus, R Greeley, and M Sullivan. 2015.

Gabara, EL. "Landscape: Errant Modernism and Aesthetics in Brazil." Modern Art in Africa, Asia and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms. Ed. EO Brien, E Nicodemus, M Chiu, MKC Benjamin Genocchio, and R Tejada. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 353-361.

Gabara, EL. "Orientalism Unmoored." Orit Raff: Shangri-La. Tel Aviv, Israel: A’ Point Books/ Noga Callery of Contemporary Art, January 2011. n.p.-n.p.

Gabara, EL. "Perspectives on Scale: From the Atomic to the Universal." Art and Globalization. Ed. J Elkins, AS Kim, and Z Valiavicharska. Penn State Press, 2010. 200-204.

Gabara, EL. "Modernist Ethics: Really Engaging Popular Culture in Mexico and Brazil." The Ethics of Latin American Literary Criticism: Reading Otherwise. Ed. EG Zivin. Palgrave MacMillan, 2007. 63-104.

Gabara, EL. "Recycled Photographs: Moving Still Images of Mexico City, 1950/2000." Double Exposure: Photography and Literature in Latin America. Ed. M Schwartz and MB Tierney-Tello. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006. 139-172.

Gabara, EL. "’Nunca olhei tão olhado em minha vida e está sublime’: O (auto)retrato e a fotografia na obra de Mário de Andrade." A Historiografia Literária e as Técnicas de Escrita. Do Manuscrito ao Hipertexto. Ed. F Süssekind and T Dias. Vieira e Lent/ Edições Casa de Rui Barbosa, 2004. 169-190.

Gabara, EL. "El triángulo museológico de las Bermudas: El Prado, el Museo de América y el Museo Nacional de Antropología." Revista SUR/versión. Investigación y creación de América Latina y el Caribe 2 (2013).

Gabara, E. "El triángulo museológico de las Bermudas: El Prado, el Museo de América y el Museo Nacional de Antropología." Ed. JLMYT Badia. El D_Efecto Barroco: Políticas De La Imagen Hispana (June 2012). (Academic Article)

Oldfield, P. "Review of Errant Modernism." Bulletin of Latin American Research 31 (2012): 409-410. (Review)

Noble, A. "Review of Errant Modernism." A Contracorriente 8 (2012): 442-447. (Review)

Edwards, E. "Relocating Photographies, Histories and Modernisms." Art History 34 (January 2011): 211-213. (Review)

Folgarait, L. "Seeing Mexico Photographed: The Work of Horne, Casasola, Modotti, and Álvarez Bravo." (online), College Arts Association (2011). (Review) Open Access Copy

Herlinghaus, H. "Review of Errant Modernism." MLN 26 (2011): 418-420. (Review)

Prado, S, and Ignacio, M. "Estrategias para mirar la nación. El giro visual de los estudios culturales mexicanos en lengua inglesa." Mexican Studies/ Estudios Mexicanos 27 (2011): 449–469-449–469. (Academic Article)

Rawson, K. "Review of Errant Modernism." Aztlán. A Journal of Chicano Studies 36 (2011): 223-228. (Review)


Gabara, EL. "“El laberinto de la hermandad: Me-Xicano Photography and Protest.”." LA RAZA (January 31, 2017). (Essay)

Gabara, EL. "“Missing Body Art: Absent Identity in the Work of Tatiana Parcero.”." Revolution and Ritual: The Photographs of Sara Catrejón, Graciela Iturbide, and Tatiana Parcero. (January 31, 2017).

Gabara, EL. "“Crossing the Border: Whether Real or Imagined.”." What It Means to Be American (May 26, 2015). (Essay)

Gabara, EL. "Orit Raff: Inside Drawing." (February 2000): n.p.-n.p.

La Raza, Autry National Center. Consultant. (2014)


exhibition and catalogue, for Pacific Standard Time 2: Los Angeles/ Latin America (LA/LA), supported by the Getty Foundation.

Revolution and Ritual: the Photographs of Sara Castrejón, Graciela Iturbide and Tatiana Parcelo. Writer. (2014)


Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College, for Pacific Standard Time 2: Los Angeles/ Latin America (LA/LA), supported by the Getty Foundation.

Missing Reflection (Naturalizations Series). Creator. (2010)


collaborative mixed media installation with Pedro Lasch