Photo of Yomaira Figueroa. Young woman smiling in white blouse, with black curly hair with purple streaks in it.

Yomaira Figueroa

Associate Professor
Global Disapora Studies

Office: C600 Wells Hall

Yomaira Figueroa works on 20th century U.S. Latinx Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and Afro-Hispanic literature and culture. Her current book project, Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature, focuses on diasporic and exilic Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Equatoguinean texts in contact. Framed with critical attention to decolonial thought, women of color feminisms, and feminist philosophy, the book complicates and enriches ongoing conversations and debates in Black/Latinx/Hispanophone studies through a sustained mediation on poetics and cultural productions. 

A native of Puerto Rico, Yomaira was raised in Hoboken, NJ and is a first-generation high school and college graduate. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in the department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in English, Puerto Rican & Hispanic Caribbean Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick (DC ’07). She has served on the secretariat of the Caribbean Philosophical Association since 2010 and was the project coordinator for the Women of Color Initiatives Project (organizing the 25th Anniversary Empowering Women of Color Conference) at UC Berkeley. In the spring of 2016, Yomaira and Professor Rae Paris founded the a Women of Color Initiatives Project at Michigan State. Since then, they have organized a bi-annual speaker series, health and wellness programs, and other related events for women of color and their allies. Past speakers include: Alexis Pauline GumbsLeanne Betasamosake Simpson, and Ana Castillo

She is the author of “Faithful Witnessing as Practice: Decolonial Readings of Shadows of Your Black Memory and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which was awarded the 2015 Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy Diversity Essay Prize. Her article on reparations in decolonial contexts “Reparation as transformation: Radical literary (re)imaginings of futurities through decolonial love” is featured in the journal of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. Her article on anthropolitical linguistics, “The Life Work of Ana Celia Zentella: Anthropolitical Linguistics, Bilingualism, and Linguistic Communities at a Crossroads”, featuring an interview with Dr. Zentella, is featured in CENTRO Journal, the foremost journal of Puerto Rican Studies. Her review, “Afro-Latinx on the New York Scene,” of Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper and Sofia Quintero’s Show and Prove can be found at sx salon.

Dr. Figueroa is a 2017-2018 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a 2015-2017 Duke University Mellon Mays SITPA Fellow, and was awarded a 2017-2018 Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship. 

Selected Courses Taught:

ENG 450: Literatures of Emancipation and Decolonization
AAAS 100: Race & Community in Local/Global Perspectives
ENG 484C: Afro-Diasporas & Global Metropoles
ENG 820/CLS811: Decoloniality, Diaspora, and the Human
ENG 820: Poetics of Liberation & Relation: Women of Color Feminist Thought