Michael Reyes Salas is a Chester Dale Fellow in the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and assistant professor of Africana Studies at Vassar College. He is a Chicano of Afro-Mexican descent and first-generation scholar who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. His studies cover the literary and intellectual history of Black diaspora communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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. He has presented research across the United States, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and Martinique.
His current project studies African-American, Caribbean, and French carceral narratives alongside the transformation of old prisons into museums, 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.