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Noelle Brigden, Ph.D.

Noelle Brigden
Noelle Brigden, Ph.D.Marquette University

Wehr Physics Hall, 446

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-1799

Associate Professor

Political Science

Noelle Brigden, Ph.D. (Cornell 2013) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University, where she teaches courses on international relations, human security, international migration, and politics of street gangs. She was a 2018-2018 Visiting Research Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and held a 2013-2014 postdoctoral fellowship at the Watson Institute for International Studies. Her current project compares and contrasts the social imagination of multiple borders, including boundaries imposed by nation-states, street gangs and gated communities, in urban El Salvador, and their implications for citizenship.

Prof. Brigden is also working to launch a community engaged project, Marquette Lift El Salvador. Marquette Lift El Salvador (MLES) promotes gender equity, empowerment and healing from trauma through the practice of sport in El Salvador. In an interdisciplinary partnership between faculty across educational institutions, involving students and community members, the program will develop and deliver wellness and leadership curriculum to co-ed Salvadoran youth through powerlifting instruction and a public gym in a marginalized neighborhood on the outskirts of San Salvador. This neighborhood confronts extraordinary gang and police violence, domestic violence, poverty and social stigmatization, and these challenges have contributed to sedentary lifestyles. These lifestyles have been implicated in high rates of diabetes and obesity. Thus, the MLES program seeks to improve public health indicators in an underserved community. In the context of gendered patterns of violence, the program also self-consciously cultivates social spaces for women’s leadership and challenges entrenched gender norms, revaluing women’s bodies as a source of strength. Men and women train together, learning from one another in a teambuilding environment that rewards community resilience.

Researchers from diverse methodological and disciplinary orientations will investigate the MLES intervention’s multifaceted impact on short-term individual indicators of trauma, self-efficiency and wellness, as well as the long-term community potential for shifting local notions of masculinity and femininity. Centered on an intersectional feminist approach to analysis, the team will ask questions such as: Does athletic practice lead to a societal re-imagination of gendered bodies and a community-wide reinterpretation of the lived experience of gendered violence? Do these initiatives have an impact beyond the gym participants, building a sense of solidarity in the broader community? Does the social space of the gym facilitate the renegotiation of community boundaries, increasing inclusion?  Thus, Prof. Brigden will be researching the evolution of collective notions of strength and gender in El Salvador. 

In summary, Prof Brigden researches both the social imagination of borders and the social imagination of the gendered body. A concern with how violence can be worn on the body and how borders come to be embodied in daily practice links her research interests. 




Ph.D., Cornell University

Courses Taught

  • POSC 2601 International Politics
  • POSC 4633 Human Security
  • POSC 4931 Topics: The Politics of International Migration
  • POSC 6601 International Politics

Research Interests

Prof. Brigden is currently working on a project that maps the im/mobilities produced by gang borders in El Salvador to theorize globalization and the reordering of the nation-state through the lived spatial orientation of people. She recently completed a visiting fellowship at the Princeton University Institute for International and Regional Studies. Her book, The Migrant Passage: Clandestine Journeys from Central America was published by Cornell University Press in 2018.



  • The Migrant Passage: Clandestine Journeys from Central America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018. 


  • ‘The Politics of Data Access in Studying Violence Across Methodological Boundaries: What We Can Learn from Each Other?’(co-authored with Anita Gohdes) International Studies Review (2020)

  • ‘Time and Power in a Violent Moment: Re-Imagining Fieldwork as Transformation’ (co-authored with Miranda Cady Hallett) Geopolitics (2020).

  • "From La Monjita to La Hormiga: Gender, Body and Power in Fieldwork," Geopolitics (2019).  
  • "Underground Railroads and Coyote Conductors: Brokering Clandestine Passages, Then and Now," International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.
  • "A Visible Geography of Invisible Journeys: Information, Representation and the Politics of Survival along the Migrant Trail from Central America," International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.
  • "Gender Mobility: Survival Plays and Performing Ethnography with Central American Migrants in Passage," Mobilities.
  • 'Beyond Borders: Clandestine Migration Journeys’ (co-authored with Cetta Mainwaring) Geopolitics. V. 21, n.2: 243-262.
  • ‘Matryoshka Journeys: Im/mobility during Migration’(co-authored with Cetta Mainwaring) Geopolitics, v.21, n.2: 407-434.
  • ‘Improvised Transnationalism: Clandestine Migration at the Border of Anthropology and International Relations’ International Studies Quarterly.
  •  ‘Homeland Heroes: Migrants and Soldiers in the Neoliberal Era’ (co-authored with Wendy A. Vogt) Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, v. 47, n. 2 (March): 303-322.
  • ‘Transnational Journeys and the Limits of Hometown Resources: Salvadoran Migration in Uncertain Times’ Migration Studies: 1-19.
  • ‘Padre Jose Alejandro Solalinde Guerra’s Understanding of Ultimate Reality and Meaning’ (co-authored with Mary Kate Naatus), Ultimate Reality and Meaning: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Philosophy of Understanding, v.33, n.3-4 2010: 235-254.

 Book Chapters

  • "Methods that Mirror Migration: Ethics and Entanglement En Route," in Research Methods in Critical Security Studies, 2nd ed., eds. Mark B. Salter, Can E Mutlu, and Philippe M. Frowd. Routledge. 
  • ‘Border Collision: Power Dynamics of Enforcement and Evasion Across the U.S.-Mexico Line’ (co-authored with Peter Andreas) in Power in Uncertainty: Exploring the Unexpected in World Politics, eds. Peter J. Katzenstein and Lucia Seybert, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Reports, Policy Memos, and Other Writing

  • ‘Journeys Interrupted: Human and Policy Challenges of Assisting Migrants in Monterrey’ (co-authored with Katrina Burgess and Karen Jacobsen) Policy Brief, Institute for Human Security, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
  • ‘Journeys Interrupted: Human and Policy Challenges of Assisting Migrants in Monterrey’ co-authored with Katrina Burgess, Karen Jacobsen and Rodolfo Cordova Alcatraz) Policy Brief, Institute for Human Security, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
  • ‘On Metaphors, Methods and Motion: A Response’ Symposia: Discussion and Debate of ISQ Articles and Themes, International Studies Quarterly Online, will be available online at:
  • ‘Violence and Survival: A Case Study of Flight and Unauthorized Routes, Central American Migrants and Humanitarian Spaces in Mexico’ prepared for the World Peace Foundation
  • ‘Like w War: the New Central American Refugee Crisis’ NACLA Report on the Americas, v.45, n.4: 7-11.
  • Brothers in the Road: Migration and the Globalization of Love’ Research Snapshots, Social Science Research Council, available online at:
  • ‘A Proposal for an Immediate Response to the Violence against Central American Migrants: Decreasing Migrant Vulnerability to Violence by Improving Local Information Flows’ prepared for the Institute de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana (IDHUCA), San Salvador.

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Wehr Physics Building, Room 468
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Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-6842

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