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Sociology Research


Mónica Moreno Figueroa is Professor in Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow in Social Sciences at Downing College, Cambridge. She was born and raised in Mexico. She studied a BA in Media and Communication at the Universidad Iberoamericana in León and Mexico City, and then worked at the Instituto Mexicano de la Juventud, Secretaría de Educación Pública (Mexican Youth Institute, Ministry of Education), first as Head of the Addictions Prevention Department and then as Coordinator of the National Youth Gender Programme.

In 1999, she came to the UK to study for an MA in Gender, Culture and Modernity and a PhD in Sociology at Goldsmiths College, London and graduated in 2006. After several temporary teaching positions (at Goldsmiths and Birkbeck), she became a temporary Lecturer in Sociology and Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham (2006-2007), and then a permanent lecturer in Sociology at the University of Newcastle (2007-2014). In 2012, she was Visiting Research Scholar at the Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University. She has also lectured at El Colegio de México. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University in 2014 before coming to the University of Cambridge later that year.

An integral part of her academic work has been her commitment to explore different forms of engaged and engaging sociology with a deep concern for social justice. This has taken her to develop links and projects that aim to make racism public as a strategy for its elimination. In the summer of 2011, she co-founded the Collective COPERA (Colectivo para Eliminar el Racismo en Mexico) alongside Dr Emiko Saldivar (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Dr Alicia Castellanos (UAM-Iztapalapa) and now has grown to include a wider group of academics and activists. The collective has been developing a series of initiatives to make racism public in Mexico, visibilise racism in its multiple forms in the country, link academia and activism and incorporate a 'race' perspective in public policy and human rights activism.

Research Interests

Monica's research has primarily developed around three areas: the lived experience of ‘race’ and racism; feminist theory and the interconnections between beauty, emotions and racism; visual methodologies and applied research collaborations. She has focussed on Mexico and Latin America more broadly. The interest in researching the 'qualities' of the lived experience of racism, has taken her to the study of the everyday, the relevance of emotions and affect, as well as issues around visibility and embodiment. Now she is exploring issues of institutional and structural racism as well as the challenges for anti-racist action in mestizo (racially mixed) contexts.

Currently she is developing various research projects:

“Becoming Black: gender, racism and representation in the Costa Chica, Mexico” (2016) interrogates how the official recognition of blackness In Mexico has reconfigured tensions between mixedness and defined ethno-racial identities of indigenous, mestizo (mixed race) and black populations.

The British Academy funded project “Institutional racism and the logics of the contemporary Mexican state” (2016-2018), with Dr Juan Carlos Martinez (CIESAS-Pacífico Sur, Mexico) is a research collaboration that aims to strengthen the study of racism within scholarship on pluralism and legal anthropology and to understand how racism operates in the construction of the state. The project includes exploring three case studies that will analyse how the state defines and offers differentiated access to resources (water), services (health and reproductive rights) and legal recognition (Afro-Mexicans).

The £1m ESRC funded project “Latin American Antiracism in a ‘Post-Racial’ Age” (2017-2019), with Prof Peter Wade (University of Manchester), investigates antiracist practices and ideologies in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The project will contribute to addressing problems of racism and racial inequality in the region and to shaping on-going debates there about how to conceptualise and label racism, anti-racism, discrimination and the idea of race. More information is available on the project website.



SOC3: Global Social Problems and Dynamics of Resistance

SOC11: Racism, Race and Ethnicity

SOC6: Advanced Social Theory

MPhil in Marginality and Exclusion 

MPhil in Latin American Studies

Graduate supervision availability and interests:

Mónica would normally be available to supervise students interested in exploring the lived experience of ‘race’ and racism; racism and antiracism in Latin America; feminist theory and the interconnections between beauty, emotions and racism, visibility and embodiment; the study of the everyday in relation to the relevance of race, gender, emotions and affect.

Current Doctoral students:

Anna Nti-Asare-Tubbs

Carlyn Rodgers

Lisa Bernhardt

Hande Guzel

Jessica Fernández de Lara Harada

Parvathi Subbiah

Completed Doctoral students:

Ali Meghji

Dana Brablec Sklenar

Martina Yopo-Diaz

Rachell Sánchez Rivera

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Moreno Figueroa, MG and Saldivar, E. (2015) “Comics, Dolls and The Disavowal of Racism: Learning from Mexican Mestizaje”, in Gutierrez, E, Little, M, and Tate, S. (eds.), Creolising Europe: Legacies and Transformations. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Co-written with Emiko Saldívar. 

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2013) ‘Don’t you see’ [personal reflection], in Casanova, Eryn & Jafar, Ashfan (eds.), Bodies without Borders: Migrating Discourses of Embodiment, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 45-49. 

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2012) 'Linda Morenita: Skin Colour, Beauty and the Politics of Mestizaje in Mexico' in Horrocks, C. (ed.) Cultures of Colour: Visual, Material, Textual, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 167-180. 

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2011) 'Naming ourselves: Recognising Racism and Mestizaje in Mexico' in McLaughlin, J., Phillimore, P. and Richardson, D. (eds.), Contesting Recognition, Culture, Identity and Citizenship. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 122-143.

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Moreno Figueroa, M. G. (2016) 'El Archivo Del Estudio Del Racismo En México', Desacatos, (51); 92-107

Moreno Figueroa, MG and Saldivar, E. (2015) “We Are Not Racists, We Are Mexicans”: Privilege, Nationalism and Post-Race Ideology in Mexico. Critical Sociology. 

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2013) ‘Displaced Looks: The Lived Experience of Beauty and Racism in Mexico’. Feminist Theory 2013, 14(2): 137-151.

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2010) 'Distributed Intensities: Whiteness, Mestizaje and the Logics of Mexican Racism', Ethnicities 10, 387-401. 

Coleman, R and Moreno Figueroa, MG (2010) 'Past and Future Perfect? Beauty, Affect and Hope', Journal for Cultural Research 14(4), 357 - 373. 

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2008) 'Looking Emotionally: Racism, Photography and Intimacies in Research' in History of the Human Sciences, 21(4), 66-83. Reprinted in Smart, B. et al (eds) (2013), Observational Methods, London: Sage. Volume 3, Part 3. 

Moreno Figueroa, MG (2008) 'Historically-Rooted Transnationalism: Slightedness and the Experience of Racism in Mexican Families', Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29(3), 283-297. 

Grants and Projects

Moreno Figueroa, M. (PI) Becoming Black: gender, racism and representation in the Costa Chica, Mexico. Cambridge Humanities Research Grant Scheme (2016): £17,000 

Moreno Figueroa, M. (PI) Institutional racism and the logics of the contemporary Mexican state. British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowships (2016-2018): £73,952

Moreno Figueroa, M. (PI) Latin American Antiracism in a ‘Post-Racial’ Age. ESRC (2017-2019): £1,005,035

Media Articles

Research Groups & Affiliations


Pilkington Teaching Prize for excellence in teaching, University of Cambridge (2017)

Job Title:
Professor in Sociology, Fellow in Social Sciences at Downing College
Dr Monica Moreno Figueroa
Full CV / Publications: