Monica Bravo

Assistant Professor of Art and Archaeology
Office Phone
2S-6B Green Hall


Monica Bravo is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology. She specializes in the history of photography and the modern art of the Americas.

Her first book, Greater American Camera: Making Modernism in Mexico, was published by Yale University Press in June 2021, with support from the Terra and Wyeth Foundations for American Art.  The book examines exchanges between U.S. modernist photographers—including Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Paul Strand, and Helen Levitt—and modern Mexican artists working in painting, poetry, music, photography, and film, resulting in the development of a Greater American modernism in the interwar period. This research was supported by fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Center for Creative Photography, the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center, the Harry Ransom Center, the Huntington Library and Art Collections, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. It was short-listed for a Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from the College Art Association (CAA).

Bravo’s current research project, “Silver Pacific: A Material History of Photography and its Minerals, 1840–1890,” transforms the geographies typically associated with American photographic history to consider transpacific networks and overlapping ecologies. Informed by the environmental humanities and technical art history, her analysis looks not only at the surface of photographs as images, but through to the photographs as objects—material encrustations of regional mineral wealth, extracted by (often migrant) human labor. This research has been supported by a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society, a Beinecke Short-term Research Fellowship, and a Getty/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art.

Before coming to Princeton, Bravo was an assistant professor at the University of Southern California, an assistant professor at California College of the Arts, and a lecturer at Yale University. She was an inaugural co-chair of Photography Network, a CAA Affiliated Society.

Teaching Interests

Professor Bravo teaches courses in the history of photography from the nineteenth century through the present. She also teaches on topics in American and Mexican modernism and visual studies, frequently organized around current research questions. All of her courses attend to questions of identity addressing class, gender, race, and sexuality, and all take advantage of area collections to see original works of art.


Ph.D., Brown University, 2016

Selected Publications

“Mercury Rising: US-Mexican Conflict in Blessing of the Enrequita Mine (1860),” Art History 46, no. 2 (June 2023): 1–28.

Greater American Camera: Making Modernism in Mexico (Yale University Press, 2021).

Co-guest editor with Emily Voelker, “Re-Reading American Photographs,” In the Round, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 6, no. 2 (Fall 2020).

“‘The Last Word in Direct Naive Realism’: Diego Rivera, Edward Weston, and Pulquerías.” American Art 34, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 20–49.

“Natural Photographs: Optograms and the Fiction of Captured Vision.” History of Photography 42, no. 1 (February 2018): 61–77.

History of Photography
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