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Durham University

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Professor Andrea Noble, BA Cantab, PhD Birmingham


It was with great sadness and shock that we learned of the sudden passing on 10 May 2017 of our esteemed colleague Professor Andrea Noble. Andrea made an extraordinary contribution as a researcher, a teacher, a PhD supervisor, and an academic leader of the first order. Her energy, enthusiasm and zest for life have been an inspiration to many, and her loss will be felt keenly in the academic community and beyond.

Andrea Noble is a Latin Americanist with research interests in visual culture studies -- particularly film and photography -- and Mexican cultural history. Her work to date has engaged with a range of methodological approaches, including those derived from feminist and gender studies, cultural memory, history of the emotions, reception and spectatorship, and visual anthropology. There are two strands to her current research and writing projects: 

The first is Tears in Mexico: A cultural History of Emotions and Motivations, which aims to open up new horizons for the study of Mexican history and culture by bringing analytical approaches from research on the history and theory of the emotions to bear on key questions concerning the configuration of the social compact. Starting with the colonial encounter between Amerindians and Europeans, and taking a long historical view, it addresses a series of questions: how was it that two very different value systems coalesced to forge the hybrid body politic of colonial society? At the collapse of the Spanish empire and the birth of the United States of Mexico in 1810, how were new bonds of citizenship, of allegiance to the nation and to fellow men (and women) forged? Or, during the 1910 Mexican Revolution, how and why did disparate social groups make common cause, and how were these uneasy bonds maintained through the 20th and into the 21st century? In short, what is the ‘glue’ that, however imperfectly, holds the social compact together? Given the ambitious chronological span of the project, the analysis centres on epiphenomenal moments of public weeping by key historical figures – which in different ways have been registered in the historical record and national imagination -- as a means of framing and containing its exploration of the social compact. To shed tears, or to withhold them, has the potential to express a wide range of what we now call ‘emotions’: anger, fear, happiness, sadness, shame, etc. Crying is, then, an ambiguous and versatile act of emotional display, one which can reveal much about how individuals and groups relate to one another, and how social compacts come into existence, are maintained, or are dissolved and reconfigured. This project was funded by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (2013-2016), involving two years based at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 

The second is called Cold War Camera and is an international collaboration with Professor Thy Phu of Western University, Canada. This project’s premise is that photography had and still has a key role in the cultural politics of the global Cold War: through state surveillance operations; through deployment in resistance to state-sponsored terrorism; and by its role in processes of transitional justice and commemoration. Questions of visuality – of what can (and cannot) be seen, known, and felt – stand at the centre of the cultural politics of this global conflict and its aftermath. 

Postgraduate Supervision: Andrea is keen to supervise most topics within the general fields of her research interests. Topics she has supervised, or is currently supervising include: the cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa; photography and the memory of political violence in Argentina and Peru; photography, women and war in the Americas; photography, race and visual rights; representations of the other in documentary media in France; masculinity and violence in 'golden-age' Mexican cinema. 

Public Engagement :Andrea has spoken about her research on film and photography across a range of public venues and media, including the Museo de la Revolución (Mexico City); Cornerhouse (Manchester); the British Musuem; The Royal Court; The Photographers' Gallery; Impressions Gallery, The British Academy, the Fototeca Nacional, El Museo Nacional de la Revolución, BBC Radio 3. In March 2012 she was selected to participate as a jury member on the panel to select the best Ibero-American feature film at Latin America's premier Festival Internacional de Cine de Guadalajara (

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Language, Literature & the Arts: Mexican film and photography
  • Visual culture: Mexican Revolution