Michael Reyes Salas is a Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his Ph.D. from the Program in Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Chicano of Afro-Mexican descent and first-generation scholar who studies the literary and intellectual history of Black diaspora communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. He serves as a writing advisor for Barrio Writers, a creative writing summer workshop for youth, volunteer instructor for the Texas Prison Education Initiative, and materials translator for Critical Resistance.
Born in Southern California, he is a proud descendant of Mexican immigrants. His itinerant upbringing took place in several cities within the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys of Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, as well as various years between Xalapa, Veracruz and Tequila, Jalisco. Throughout his doctoral studies he has presented research across the United States, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and Martinique. He has traveled extensively across the US, France, Spain, Denmark, Morocco, Portugal, India, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia.
His current project studies African-American, Caribbean, and French carceral narratives alongside penal heritage commemoration practices, with a concentration on Guyane’s penal colony. He investigates carceral narratives and institutional penal history to shed light on how stories both personal and imperial must undergird our approaches to challenging the prison-industrial complex.
His research interests run the gamut of Critical Carceral Studies; African-American, French, Latin American and Caribbean literatures; Black/Afro-Latinx Diasporas; Black Existentialism; Narrative and Memory; and Postcolonial Theory.