Yarimar Bonilla is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University where she also serves on the advisory board for the Rutgers Advanced Institute of Critical Caribbean Studies. After completing her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico, Yarimar received an MA in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico, and a Phd in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago.
Blurring the lines between political and historical anthropology, she teaches and writes about questions of sovereignty, citizenship, and race across the Americas. She has tracked these issues across a broad range of sites and practices including: anti-colonial labor activism in the French Caribbean, the role of digital protest in the Black Lives Matter movement, the politics of the Trump presidency, and her current research on the political and social impact of environmental disasters.
Bonilla’s first book, Non-Sovereign Futures: French Caribbean Politics in the Wake of Disenchantment, examines how contemporary activists in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe imagine and contest the limits of postcolonial sovereignty. Challenging contemporary notions of freedom, sovereignty, nationalism, and revolution, Non-Sovereign Futures recasts Guadeloupe, and the Caribbean as a whole, not as a problematically non-sovereign site, but as a place that can unsettle how we think of sovereignty itself.
Professor Bonilla’s second book project Shattered Futures — for which she was named a 2018 Carnegie Fellow —examines the politics of recovery in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria and the forms of political and social trauma that it revealed. She is also at work on an ethnographic study of the Puerto Rican pro-statehood movement, tentatively titled The Unthinkable State, which traces how and why annexationism has come to be imagined as a form of anti-colonial politics.
In addition, Professor Bonilla has a strong interest in the role of digital technologies within social movements and academic practice. She has theorized hashtag usage within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and the semiotics of digital protest in the context of Guadeloupe. She is currently developing a multi-media political atlas of the Caribbean entitled, Visualizing Sovereignty and is a principal collaborator in the #PuertoRicoSyllabus project.
Bonilla has been the recipient of multiple grants and awards from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Chateaubriand Fellowship Program, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia, and the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University. She is currently Section Editor of Public Anthropologies for the journal American Anthropologist, and serves on the editorial committee for Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform for Criticism.