Dr. Yomaira Figueroa “Intimacies”

Dr. Yomaira Figueroa “Intimacies”

Monday, April 8th, 12 – 2 PM | Building 3 Room 3-133

The Literature Section and Women’s and Gender Studies Program present
Dr. Yomaira Figueroa
Assistant Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing

With a response from Professor Lorgia García Peña
Martin Luther King Visiting Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies


This talk examines how dictatorship and military occupation impact intimate kinship and community relations in Juan Tomas Avila Laurel’s Arde el monte de noche, Trifonia Melibea Obono’s La bastarda, and Nelly Rosario’s Song of the Water Saints. I trace how these works reveal the ways that structural domination shapes and impacts everyday intimate practices including: access to sustenance, sociality, and sexual desire. While erotic desire is central to thinking about intimacy, I expand the intimacies of dictatorship to include kinship ties, quotidian needs, and communal relations. I contend that these novels center the oft-obscured subjectivities of Afro-femmes and show how erotic freedoms emerge and travel, in relation to/against/outside of dictatorship, occupation, and coloniality. While these erotic and corporeal freedoms are often severely punished, the authors demand a particular labor from the reader, which is to bear witness to the interstitial effects of domination and to take note of how erotic freedoms emerging from Afro-femme subjects challenge the intimacies of dictatorship and occupation.

Yomaira C. Figueroa is Assistant Professor of Afro-Diaspora Studies in the department of English and African American & African Studies at Michigan State University. Written through the lens of decoloniality, women of color feminisms, and feminist philosophy, her book project, Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature, examines the textual, historical, and political relations between diasporic/exilic Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Equatoguinean poetics. Her published work can be found in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, the journal of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, CENTRO Journal, and SX Salon. A scholar and organizer, she is a founder of both the MSU Womxn of Color Initiative and the collaborative hurricane recovery project #ProyectoPalabrasPR. 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.