New Books—”Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature”

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez’s Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature (Northwestern University Press) was published in October 2020. Vanessa K. Valdés (author of Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg) writes: “Decolonizing Diasporas is a tour-de-force: it realigns how we think of Latinx literary studies so that the field includes the literature of Equatorial Guinea, thereby necessarily confronting the anti-blackness and, more specifically, anti-Africanness, that has historically been foundational to our discipline. Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez provides for us a prototype by which to question, interrogate, reconsider, and reconfigure Afro-Atlantic Hispanophone subjectivity; everyone who studies the African continent and its diasporas should read this book.”

Description: Mapping literature from Spanish-speaking sub-Saharan African and Afro-Latinx Caribbean diasporas, Decolonizing Diasporas argues that the works of diasporic writers and artists from Equatorial Guinea, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba offer new worldviews that unsettle and dismantle the logics of colonial modernity. With women of color feminisms and decolonial theory as frameworks, Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez juxtaposes Afro-Latinx and Afro-Hispanic diasporic artists, analyzing work by Nelly Rosario, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, Trifonia Melibea Obono, Donato Ndongo, Junot Díaz, Aracelis Girmay, Loida Maritza Pérez, Ernesto Quiñonez, Christina Olivares, Joaquín Mbomio Bacheng, Ibeyi, Daniel José Older, and María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Figueroa-Vásquez’s study reveals the thematic, conceptual, and liberatory tools these artists offer when read in relation to one another.

Decolonizing Diasporas examines how themes of intimacy, witnessing, dispossession, reparations, and futurities are remapped in these works by tracing interlocking structures of oppression, including public and intimate forms of domination, sexual and structural violence, sociopolitical and racial exclusion, and the haunting remnants of colonial intervention. Figueroa-Vásquez contends that these diasporic literatures reveal violence but also forms of resistance and the radical potential of Afro-futurities.

This study centers the cultural productions of peoples of African descent as Afro-diasporic imaginaries that subvert coloniality and offer new ways to approach questions of home, location, belonging, and justice.

YOMAIRA C. FIGUEROA-VÁSQUEZ is an associate professor of global diaspora studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University.

Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature
ISBN 978-0-8101-4243-5 (hc)
ISBN 978-0-8101-4242-8 (pb)

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