Yomaira Figueroa


C600 Wells Hall
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824


Associate Professor
Literary Studies; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Race and Ethnic Studies; Global and Diasporic Studies

Curriculum Vitae


Yomaira C. Figueroa is Associate Professor of Global Afro-Diaspora Studies in the department of English at Michigan State University. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in English, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her first monograph, Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature (Northwestern University Press, 2020), examines the textual, historical, and political relations between diasporic Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Dominican, and Equatoguinean poetics. Her second major project, Archive of Disappearances: Afterimages of Afro-Puerto Ricans at the Edges of Empire, examines the disappearances and excesses of Afro-Puerto Rican island and diasporic peoples through the study of archival histories, photography, visual art, and film from the late 19th century to the present. Her published scholarly and creative work can be found in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist PhilosophyThe Journal of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & SocietyCENTRO JournalSmall AxeFrontiers JournalHispanofilia, and SX Salon

A scholar and organizer, she is a founder of the MSU Womxn of Color Initiative, collaborative hurricane recovery project #ProyectoPalabrasPR, and the digital/material site Electric Marronage. Dr. Figueroa was awarded the 2015-2017 Duke University Mellon Mays SITPA Fellowship, the 2017-2018 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, the 2017-2018 Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, and the 2021-2022 Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellowship. 

A first-generation high-school and college graduate, Dr. Figueroa is passionate about mentoring underrepresented and first-generation students and co-leads the MSU Mentoring Underrepresented Scholars in English Program (MUSE) which seeks to advise and recruit promising prospective Ph.D. students in an effort to shift the discipline and study of English. Dr. Figueroa teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the department of English and the Chicano/Latino Studies Program.


ENG 484C: Decolonial Love & the Diasporic Novel

ENG 820: Poetics of Liberation & Relation: Women of Color Feminist Thought

CLS811: From the Entrails of the Monster: Afro-Latinx Literary Culture & Theory

ENG 800: Race, Gender & the Human

University News

Several College of Arts & Letters Projects Supported by HARP Grants
Published December 13, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
A collage of photos of various different people in front of a collection of backgrounds.
Twelve College of Arts & Letters faculty members currently are working on projects supported by 2023 Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) Grants. The projects range from mixed media…Read now »
Department of English Faculty Recognized with Several Awards and Professional Recognitions
Published January 9, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
The Department of English at Michigan State University is home to a myriad of talented faculty members actively engaged in research and creative activity with several of these scholars and artists…Read now »
Multi-Institutional Diaspora Solidarities Lab Launches with $2 Million Mellon Grant
Published January 24, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
A $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has helped launch the Diaspora Solidarities Lab (DSL), a Black feminist digital humanities initiative that supports solidarity work in Black…Read now »
MSU Digital Humanities Initiative Receives Garfinkel Prize
Published April 16, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
woman wearing blue earrings holding up mug with a blue and green logo
A digital humanities collective in the MSU College of Arts & Letters that draws on the legacy of creating spaces of liberation within oppressive societies has won the 2020 Garfinkel Prize in…Read now »
Student View: Preserving History Through Matrix
Published January 11, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
a person with short dark hair wearing a white button up shirt
Briona Jones, doctoral candidate in the Department of English This past fall I began my graduate assistantship with Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, working…Read now »
Author Selected as Womxn of Color Initiative Visiting Artist
Published October 11, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
Woman with glasses in a red shirt smiling at the camera
The Womxn of Color Initiative (WOCI) is bringing Elaine Castillo, author of America is Not the Heart, to campus next week as its Fall 2019 Visiting Artist, and is inviting the public to…Read now »
Citizen Scholars Gain Firsthand Perspective in Puerto Rico
Published April 17, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
Two rows women wearing head wraps pose for a photo
A group of MSU students, including nine Citizen Scholars from the College of Arts & Letters, recently traveled to Puerto Rico for a weeklong study away trip where they gained a deeper…Read now »
Podcast: Diaspora & Decolonial Love
Published February 28, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
man and woman sitting next to one another in a room with black and white checkered walls and microphones on the table
The newest episode of the Liberal Arts Endeavor Podcast, titled Diaspora and Decolonial Love, is out! Our host, Dean Christopher P. Long, spoke with Yomaira Figueroa,…Read now »
Faculty Members Awarded Inspirational Woman of the Year Awards
Published January 30, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
brick building surrounding by trees with green leaves
Two College of Arts & Letters faculty members will receive MSU’sCenter for Gender in Global Context (GenCen) Inspirational Woman of the Year Awards. Rocío Quispe-Agnoli, Professor…Read now »
Forgotten Culture Focus of WOCI Artist-In-Residence
Published October 3, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
woman standing in front of painting of woman with blue hair and blue bird flying out of her hand
Using her art to shine a spotlight on Indigenous voices, traditions, and ecology, Nanibah Chacón is bringing her message and talent to Michigan State University as the Fall…Read now »
2018 College of Arts & Letters Alumni Board Awards Presented
Published April 17, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
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The College of Arts & Letters celebrated its outstanding faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments in teaching, research, and community impact at the 2018 MSU College of Arts &…Read now »
Womxn of Color Initiative to Address Strategies for Surviving Racism
Published February 6, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
headshot of woman in grey sweater w/ hair in a bun and gold hoop earrings
The Womxn of Color Initiative (WOCI), an effort to organize events for women of color and their allies at Michigan State University and in the greater Lansing community, is bringing MSU…Read now »
Inspiring First-Generation Students Through Literature
Published August 31, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
a woman in a grey shirt giving a speech/lecture
YOMAIRA FIGUEROA Assistant Professor of Global African Diaspora StudiesDepartment of English Raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Yomaira…Read now »
Two Faculty Members Awarded Prestigious Fellowship
Published March 1, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
portrait of two women smiling next to each other
Two faculty members from MSU’s College of Arts & Letters have been awarded a Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Yomaira…Read now »
Women of Color Initiative Presents Fall 2016 Speaker
Published October 11, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
headshot of a woman with medium-length black hair and rectangular glasses. she is wearing a blouse and cardigan
The Women of Color Initiative (WOCI), an effort to organize events for women of color and allies on MSU’s campus, recently brought academic, writer, musician, activist, and storyteller Leanne…Read now »
Learning to Play in a More Inclusive Key
Published April 25, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
piano keys
By Dean Christopher P. Long on April 25, 2016 on cplong.org On three different days in three different meetings, the same note was sounded. It struck a chord that resonated with me as I…Read now »
Women of Color Initiatives Lecture: Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Published February 12, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
a woman's face on a poster
Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs will be visiting MSU on Friday, February 12, 2015, and will be giving a talk at 3:00 in B342 Wells titled “Visionary Daughtering: An Intimate Intellectual and Activist…Read now »
Dr. Yomaira Figueroa Selected for Duke’s SITPA Junior Faculty Fellowship
Published June 19, 2015 in College of Arts & Letters
a woman with curly dark hair with pink strands on the ends wearing a grey top and jean vest
Joins inaugural 2015-17 SITPA Fellows cohort Yomaira Figueroa, assistant professor in the MSU Department of English and African American and African Studies, has been selected as a 2015-2017…Read now »