Noelle Brigden, Ph.D.

Noelle Brigden
Noelle Brigden, Ph.D.Marquette University

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-1799

Associate Professor

Political Science

Dr. Noelle Brigden is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University. Her research and teaching interests include gender, human security, international relations, borders, transnationalism, violence, the politics of the body, trauma, fieldwork ethics, and political ethnography. Her book, The Migrant Passage: Clandestine Journeys from Central America (Cornell University Press 2018), won the Yale Ferguson Award. Her work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, International Studies Perspectives, International Studies Review, Mobilities, Antipode, Migration Studies, International Journal for Migration and Border Studies, Geopolitics, and Violence Against Women. Her co-edited volume, Gender and Power in Strength Sports: Strong as Feminist (Routledge Press 2023), examines how athletic participation both resists and potentially reinforces intersectional oppressions. Dr. Brigden also works on trauma-informed, community-engaged projects that promote gender empowerment and social justice, such as Pesas y Poder, The Body Resistance Program, and Restorative Justice in Movement.  Her ongoing book project, an exploration of gendered notions of fitness situated in the context of transnational diaspora, a neoliberal political economy, and geopolitics, is tentatively called Survival of the Fit: Body Politics and Gym Life in Post-Conflict El Salvador.


Finally, Dr. Brigden is a certified powerlifting coach with special training in trauma-informed lifting and para-powerlifting. She was the 2022 IPF Masters World Champion in the 47kg weight class and holds several U.S. national records in powerlifting.


Ph.D., Cornell University

Courses Taught

  • POSC 2601 International Politics
  • POSC 2601 International Politics (honors)
  • POSC 4633 Human Security
  • POSC 4931 Topics: The Politics of International Migration
  • POSC 6601 International Politics
  • POSC 3101 Global Politics of Street Gangs
  • POSC 4611 International Organization
  • EXPH/POSC Trauma and Peace in El Salvador (cross listed between exercise science, peace studies, and political science)

Research Interests

Prof. Brigden researches the socio-political imagination of borders and the socio-political 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 these divergent research interests. She also writes extensively about research ethics, fieldwork on violence, and ethnographic methods in the study of international relations. Thus, her work self-consciously links global patterns of politics with power-dynamics at the local level, seeking to understand embodied forms of mobility and resistance.



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

Edited Volume

  • Gender and Power in Strength Sports: Strong as Feminist, co-edited with Katie Rose Hejtmanek and Melissa Forbis. London: Routledge Press, Critical Sports Studies Series, (2023)


  • ‘Understanding Body Resistance in El Salvador: A Qualitative Discussion of a Pilot Program for Embodied Empowerment’ Violence Against Women (forthcoming)
  •  ‘Subversive Knowledge in Times of Global Political Crisis: A Manifesto for Ethnography in the Study of International Relations’ International Studies Perspectives (co-authored with Cetta Mainwaring), (2021). 
  •  ‘Subversive Knowledge in Times of Global Political Crisis: A Manifesto for Ethnography in the Study of International Relations’ International Studies Perspectives (co-authored with Cetta Mainwaring), forthcoming. 

  • ‘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

  • ‘Gym Mobilities: Shaping Bodies and Lifting Community at the Edges of San Salvador’ in (Un)Settling Place, edited by Heike Drotbohm, Nanneke Winters, and Yaatsil Geuvara. Berghan Books.
  • 2023 ‘Transformative Writing and Naming: Gimnasio Elba y Celina’ (with Elsy Aracely Argueta) in Gender and Power in Strength Sports: Strong As Feminist, edited by Noelle Brigden, Katie Rose Hejtmanek and Melissa Forbis, Londong: Routledge Press.
  •  2022 ‘Trauma-Informed Research Methods’ in Researching Gender-Based Violence: Embodied and Intersectional Approaches, edited by April Petillo and Heather Hlavka. New York: New York University Press.
  • "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
  • ‘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.

Faculty & Staff Directory


Department of Political Science
Wehr Physics Building, Room 468
1420 W. Clybourn St. 
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-6842

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