Yarimar Bonilla is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University where she serves on the advisory board for the Advanced Institute of Critical Caribbean Studies and the Institute for Research on Women. She has also taught at the University of Virginia where she was the founder and coordinator of the UVA Haiti Working Group. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2008 and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 1998. She is also a proud alumna of the University of Puerto Rico.
Blurring the lines between political and historical anthropology, Yarimar teaches and writes about political imaginaries, colonial legacies, and the politics of history in the Atlantic World. Her first book, Non-Sovereign Futures, examines the political possibilities that emerge in the wake of postcolonial disenchantment through an ethnographic study of labor activism in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. As an overseas department of France, Guadeloupe is one of a handful of non-independent societies in the Caribbean that seem like political exceptions—or even paradoxes—in our current postcolonial era. Non-Sovereign Futures wrestles with the conceptual arsenal of political modernity—challenging contemporary notions of freedom, sovereignty, nationalism, and revolution—in order to recast Guadeloupe not as a problematically non-sovereign site but as a place that can unsettle how we think of sovereignty itself.
Professor Bonilla is currently at work on an ethnographic study of the Puerto Rican pro-statehood movement, tentatively titled The Unthinkable State. This project will examine historical shifts in how the relationship between the United States and its unincorporated territories has been imagined over time and will interrogate how and why annexationism has come to be imagined as a form of anti-colonial politics.
In addition, Yarimar has a strong interest in the role of digital technologies within both social movements and academic practices. She is currently working on several projects regarding the use of digital technologies among both African-American and Caribbean activists, and is also in the process of developing a multi-media political atlas of the Caribbean entitled, Visualizing Sovereignty.
Professor 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, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology, on the editorial committee for Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform for Criticism, and the editorial board of The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.