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Mónica Moreno Figueroa


Mónica Moreno Figueroa is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow in Social Sciences at Downing College, Cambridge. Her 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 completed an undergraduate degree in Media and Communication at the Universidad Iberoamericana, León, Mexico in 1996, before moving to the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, to study an MA in Sociology. In 1999, she travelled to the UK to do an MA in Gender, Culture and Modernity at Goldsmiths College, London, where she stayed to take a PhD in Sociology. She has lectured at Goldsmiths and Birkbeck College, London, University of Nottingham, Newcastle University, Princeton University and El Colegio de Mexico.


Lecturer in Sociology
Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge

Other professional positions

Chair of the Ethnicity, Race and Indigenous Peoples (ERIP) section of the Latin American Studies Association (2014-16)


I was born and raised in Mexico. I 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, I 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), I 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, I was Visiting Research Scholar at the Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University in 2014 before coming to the University of Cambridge later that year.

An integral part of my academic work has been my commitment to explore different forms of engaged and engaging sociology with a deep concern for social justice. This has taken me to develop links and projects that aim to make racism public. In the summer of 2011, I co-founded the Collective COPERA (Colectivo para Eliminar el Racismo en Mexico) alongside Dr Emiko Saldivar (University of California-SB) 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 and incorporate a 'race' perspective in public policy and human rights activism.

Research interests

My 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. I have focussed on Mexico and Latin America more broadly. The interest in researching the 'qualities' of the lived experience of racism, has taken me to the study of the everyday, the relevance of emotions and affect, as well as issues around visibility and embodiment.

Currently I am 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), will investigate 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.

Teaching interests

'Race' and racism, sociology of Latin America, feminist and cultural studies approaches to the body, beauty and emotions, visual culture and methodologies, qualitative research methods.

Key recent publications

Journal Articles

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.

Book Chapters in Edited Collections

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.

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 (2012) ‘“Yo nunca he tenido la necesidad de nombrarme”: Reconociendo el Racismo y el Mestizaje en México’ in Castellanos Guerrero, A. and Landázuri Benítez, G. (eds.), Racismos y otras formas de  intolerancia.  De norte a sur en América Latina. Mexico: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. 

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.

Recent Research Grants

Cambridge Humanities Research Grant Scheme, "Becoming Black: gender, racism and representation in the Costa Chica, Mexico." January-December 2016, £17,000.

British Academy - Newton Advanced Fellowships, “Institutional racism and the logics of the contemporary Mexican state” (March 2016- March 2018) with Dr Juan Carlos Martinez, CIESAS-Pacífico Sur, £73,952.

ESRC, “Latin American Antiracism in a ‘Post-Racial’ Age”, (January 2017 - January 2019) with Prof Peter Wade (University of Manchester), £1,005,035.


  • Position: Lecturer in Sociology
  • E-mail:
  • Tel: 01223 334855
  • Address: Department of Sociology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ
  • Research Interests: sociology of 'race' and racism, feminist theory, gender, body, beauty and femininity, sociology of emotions, Mexico, Latin America, visual methodologies, photography, interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Dr Moreno Figueroa supervises graduate students