Social Science

CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS: Artistic narratives of cancer patients in the visual and plastic arts, illness, resistance and activism; Narrative, political and activist art; the visual and material culture of cancer/illness: from imaging technologies and therapeutic objects to prosthetics and disposable materialities; amputation and (dis)ability; the interaction between the arts and biomedicine; Bodies, embodied knowledge, emotions and affections; Autoethnography; (Re)mixtures of knowledge: social science, art and creative/alternative methodologies (creative writing and creative scientific illustration for social science research: creative, metaphorical and non-figurative reinventions of ethnographic drawing, painting, and photography); other/hybrid ontologies and epistemologies: “the third half of things and of knowledge” (Noronha, 2015). Read full CV


My research trilogy developed around the analysis (and creation) of art projects and narratives regarding female experiences of cancer, looking for the uses and meanings given by women patients and artists to these artworks and stories, my working field since 2005.


Noronha, Susana de (2009), A Tinta, a Mariposa e a Metástase: a arte como experiência, conhecimento e acção sobre o cancro de mama. Porto: Afrontamento. [Winner of the CES Award for Young Social Scientists from Portuguese-speaking Countries 2007]



In the book A Tinta, a Mariposa e a Metástase, twenty four art projects and narratives were understood as a constitutive part of experience itself, immersed on the way women live, understand and cope with breast cancer, giving personal meaning and form to inner experiences of illness. Reaching the public space, art becomes an instrument of intervention and activism, transforming individual plans into collective agendas, redefining cancer as an external environmental and social construct against the notion of its spontaneous and erratic cellular reproduction. (buy it here: Afrontamento)








Noronha, Susana de (2015), Objetos Feitos de Cancro: mulheres, cultura material e doença nas estórias da arte. Coimbra: Almedina.


ObjetosFeitosCancroObjetos feitos de Cancro, opening the analysis to other materialities and types of cancer, redirected my research to a redefinition of material culture, understanding it as a portion of cancer, a part of the way female patients experience and conceptualize illness, looking at the medical, personal and domestic objects that gain relevance in more than one hundred artistic projects made by or with women, examining images of hospitalizations, diagnosis procedures, excision and reconstructive surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation sessions and home activities. (buy it here: Almedina)








Noronha, Susana de (2019), Cancro sobre Papel: estórias de oito mulheres portuguesas entre palavra falada, arte e ciência escrita. Coimbra: Almedina.


CancroSobrePapel2019In my third monograph, Cancro sobre Papel, from theory to practice, blending social science with the visual arts to understand cancer, I created eight projects, a series of drawings, paintings and photographs that retell the stories of eight women from my relational circle (family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances), using imagination and metaphor to reinvent scientific illustration and ethnographic drawing. The three books present an ontological, epistemological and performative conception of art. Towards a new ontology, epistemology and methodology, I also defend a fusion of embodied, scientific, and artistic forms of knowledge, stating that bodies, experiences, spaces and objects are constitutive parts of an undivided reality, what I call “the third half of things and of knowledge” (Noronha, 2015). (Buy it here: Almedina)