Radical Relating as Decolonial Practice

Radical Relating as Decolonial Practice

November 7, Saturday, 12pm-3pm EST. Online via Zoom.

Yomaira C. Figueroa, PhD

Audre Lorde argued that “we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals, and because of this we stand to be fractured from one another and ourselves.” Nowhere is this fracturing more deeply felt than in the ongoing forms of dispossession affecting those who are both citizens and colonial subjects of a settler nation.

In this seminar, we will explore decolonizing relationality as a methodology of complex coalition-building, of learning one another’s histories, and of understanding why difference can fragment communities in search of liberation. To do so, we will center the cultural productions of peoples of African descent as examples of Afro-diasporic imaginaries that record the haunting remnants of colonial intervention while also revealing the radical potential of Afro-futurities. 

We will examine how themes of intimacy, witnessing, dispossession, reparations, and futurities are remapped in a series of curated works by contemporary writers and artists from Equatorial Guinea, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Engaging with these peripheralized knowledges or otros saberas requires intellectual and praxical generosity, an intentional revaluing of historically devalued perspectives that subverts the ways colonial knowledge practices produce oppressive human taxonomies.

We will read these texts through lenses of Afro-Latinx decolonial feminisms and the concept of destierro -a Spanish word for exile that connotes a violent uprooting. These frames can help us take decolonial thought further toward liberatory practices, and map different forms of dispossession and resistance across intersecting identities. Finally, we will explore how relating across differences can be approached as “a lifetime pursuit.”

Facilitator: Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez is Associate Professor of Global Afro-Diaspora Studies in the department of English and African American & African Studies 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) (use this coupon code to get a 20% discount: NUP2020), 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 work can be found in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, the journal of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, CENTRO Journal,Small Axe, Frontiers 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. She is the co-director and curator of Electric Marronage


Time: Saturday, November 7, 12pm-3pm. Online.
Cost: $30- $90.

  • Members: $30. Registration for Incite Seminars Patreon supporters at any level.
  • Non-Member Ticket: $45.
  • Generous Supporter: $90. Please consider buying this ticket if you have financial privilege. A portion of the ticket will enable us to provide access to those unable to afford the cost of the session.
  • We are committed to offering access to knowledge and community to those who are eager to learn but cannot afford the cost of the session. If you are experiencing financial hardship, we invite you to join the seminar using the Solidarity ticket option.


Please register by purchasing a ticket below or going to the Eventbrite page here. If you have any questions or concerns, email inciteseminarsphila@gmail.com.

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