Esther Leah Gabara

Esther Leah Gabara

Associate Professor of Romance Studies

External address: 212 Language Center, Department of Romance Studies, Durham, NC 27708-0257
Internal address: Box 90257, Department of Romance Studies, Durham, NC 27708-0257
Phone: (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.


  • 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

Gabara, Esther. Pop América, 1965-1975. 2018.

Lasch, by Pedro, et al. Black Mirror/Espejo Negro. Nasher Museum of Art and the Franklin Humanities Institute, distributed by Duke University Press, 2010.

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

Gabara, E. L. “Photography, Avant-Garde and Modernity.” A Companion to Modern and Contemporary Latin American & Latino Art, edited by Alejandro Anreus et al., 2015.

Gabara, E. L. “Landscape: Errant Modernism and Aesthetics in Brazil.” Modern Art in Africa, Asia and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms, edited by Elaine O. Brien et al., Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp. 353–61.

Gabara, E. L. “Orientalism Unmoored.” Orit Raff: Shangri-La, Tel Aviv, Israel: A’ Point Books/ Noga Callery of Contemporary Art, 2011, p. n.p.-n.p.

Gabara, E. L. “Perspectives on Scale: From the Atomic to the Universal.” Art and Globalization, edited by James Elkins et al., Penn State Press, 2010, pp. 200–04.

Gabara, E. L. “Modernist Ethics: Really Engaging Popular Culture in Mexico and Brazil.” The Ethics of Latin American Literary Criticism: Reading Otherwise, edited by Erin Graff Zivin, Palgrave MacMillan, 2007, pp. 63–104.

Gabara, E. L. “Recycled Photographs: Moving Still Images of Mexico City, 1950/2000.” Double Exposure: Photography and Literature in Latin America, edited by Marcy Schwartz and Mary Beth Tierney-Tello, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006, pp. 139–72.

Gabara, E. L. “’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, edited by Flora Süssekind and Tânia Dias, Vieira e Lent/ Edições Casa de Rui Barbosa, 2004, pp. 169–90.

Gabara, E. “Fictions of emancipation: Collaborations with and against the law.” English Language Notes, vol. 51, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 173–81. Scopus, doi:10.1215/00138282-51.1.173. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gabara, E. L. “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, vol. 2, 2013.

Gabara, E. “El triángulo museológico de las Bermudas: El Prado, el Museo de América y el Museo Nacional de Antropología.” El D Efecto Barroco: Políticas De La Imagen Hispana, edited by Jorge Luis Marzo Y Tere Badia, June 2012.

Oldfield, Pippa. “Review of Errant Modernism.” Bulletin of Latin American Research, vol. 31, 2012, pp. 409–10.

Noble, Andrea. “Review of Errant Modernism.” A Contracorriente, vol. 8, 2012, pp. 442–47.

Delgado, Zarza, and Martha Patricia. “Review of Errant Modernism.” E.I.A.L., vol. 22, 2011, pp. 179–81.

Segre, Erica. “Review of Errant Modernism, etc.History of Photography, vol. 35, 2011, pp. 85–88.

Edwards, Elizabeth. “Relocating Photographies, Histories and Modernisms.” Art History, vol. 34, Jan. 2011, pp. 211–13.

Folgarait, Leonard. “Seeing Mexico Photographed: The Work of Horne, Casasola, Modotti, and Álvarez Bravo.” Caa.Reviews (Online), College Arts Association, 2011. Open Access Copy

Herlinghaus, Hermann. “Review of Errant Modernism.” Mln, vol. 26, 2011, pp. 418–20.


Gabara, E. L. ““El laberinto de la hermandad: Me-Xicano Photography and Protest.”.” La Raza, University of Washington Press/ Autry National Center/ Chicano Studies Research Center, 1 Feb. 2020.

Gabara, E. L. ““Missing Body Art: Absent Identity in the Work of Tatiana Parcero.”.” Revolution and Ritual: The Photographs of Sara Catrejón, Graciela Iturbide, and Tatiana Parcero., 31 Jan. 2017.

Gabara, E. L. ““Crossing the Border: Whether Real or Imagined.”.” What It Means to Be American, Smithsonian Institute/ Zócalo Public Square, 26 May 2015.

Gabara, E. L. Orit Raff: Inside Drawing. Pamphlet, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, and Galerie Paula Boettcher, Berlin, Feb. 2000, p. 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