Yarimar Bonilla

Professor in American Studies in the Effron Center for the Study of America
Office Phone
211 Morrison Hall

Ph.D., University of Chicago

M.A., University of Chicago

M.A., University of New Mexico

B.A., University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras


Yarimar Bonilla is a political anthropologist, professor, and contributing writer for the New York Times. Both an accomplished scholar and a prominent public intellectual, Dr Bonilla teaches and writes broadly across disciplines and fields on questions of race, citizenship, empire, and the entanglements of postcolonial sovereignty. She is the author and editor of several books, including Non-Sovereign Futures: French Caribbean Politics in the Wake of Disenchantment, Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm, and Trouillot Remixed: The Michel Rolph Trouillot Reader

In addition to her publications, Dr Bonilla has produced several documentaries including Aftershocks of Disaster: the Film and the Emmy-nominated documentary series Puerto Rican Voices. She was also a contributor to the first season of the award-winning podcast series La Brega with her audio ethnography of Puerto Rico’s colonial crisis, a founder of the public humanities project Puerto Rico Syllabus, a former editor of Public Anthropologies for American Anthropologist, and a former Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. 

Bonilla is currently working on several new book projects. The Coloniality of Disaster is an ethnographic examination of the politics of recovery in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and the forms of political and social trauma that the storm revealed, An Unthinkable State, examines the Puerto Rican statehood movement for what it reveals about the nature and contradictions of the US Empire. Lastly, the collection Thinking with Bad Bunny brings together scholars, musicians, and journalists to reflect on the future of Puerto Rico through the lens of reggaeton.

During the 2023-2024 academic year Dr. Bonilla is on sabbatical while serving as convener for the interdisciplinary project Bridging the Divides funded by the Mellon foundation.

Selected Publications

Yarimar Bonilla in the New York Times

Yarimar Bonilla in El Nuevo Dia

2021          “Non-Sovereign Racecraft: How Colonialism, Debt, and Disaster are Transforming Puerto Rican Racial Subjectivities” (co-authored with Isar Godreau) American Anthropologist, 123(3): 509-525.

2020          “Post-Disaster Futures: Hopeful Pessimism, Imperial Ruination, and La Futura CuirSmall Axe Issue 62 vol 24(2):147-162.

2020          “The Coloniality of Disaster: Race, Empire, and the Temporal Logics of Emergency in Puerto Rico, USAPolitical Geography. Vol 78, April 2020

2017     “Unsettling Sovereignty.” Cultural Anthropology 32(3):330-339

2016     “Visualizing Sovereignty: Cartographic Queries for the Digital Age.” (co-authored with Max Hantel) sx:archipelagos 1:1 

2015     “#Ferguson: Digital Activism, Hashtag Ethnography, and the Racial Politics of Social Media.” (co-authored with Jonathan Rosa) American Ethnologist 42(1):4-17.