In this virtual panel and discussion, Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez (Michigan State University) and Ryan James Kernan (Rutgers University) will share their groundbreaking research on the literary and cultural translation of Blackness before engaging in a discussion moderated by Aaron Coleman, U-M’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Translation Studies.

Dr. Figueroa-Vásquez’s and Dr. Kernan’s transnational and Afrodiasporic scholarship transforms our understanding of Blackness at regional, national, and international scales. Their reframing of Afrolatinx and Black USAmerican literature and culture shines new light on the international and Afrodiasporic dimensions of poets like the U.S. Midwest’s Langston Hughes while envisioning new modes of Afrodiasporic community through digital and archival innovation.


Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez is an Afro-Puerto Rican writer, teacher, and scholar from Hoboken, NJ. She is an associate professor of global Afro-Diaspora studies at Michigan State University and the author of the award-winning Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature (Northwestern, 2020).

Ryan James Kernan is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Rutgers University. His book New World Maker: Radical Poetics, Black Internationalism, and the Translations of Langston Hughes (Northwestern, 2022) reappraises Langston Hughes's political poetry, reading the writer's leftist works in the context of his practice of translation to reveal an important meditation on diaspora.

Aaron Coleman (moderator) is a poet, translator, and Anti-Racism Collaborative Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Translation Studies at the University of Michigan. His poems and essays have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Callaloo, and The New York Times. He is working on his first critical monograph, Poetics of Afrodiasporic Translation: Negotiating Race, Nation, and Belonging Between Cuba and the United States.