Lily Mengesha

Lily MengeshaLily MengeshaLily is a PhD Candidate in performance studies and a visiting scholar in MIT's Literature department during the 2016-2017 academic year. Her dissertation, tentatively titled, Hard to See: Disappearance, Indigeneity and Performance, examines traces of missing women, communities and histories in the form of theater, performance, and visual artworks made by, and/or for, Latinx, Native and Indigenous North and Central American artists from 1990 to the present. Through five case studies, this project explores the longer genealogy of how performance artists have used their abject and body art aesthetics to address topics related to dispossession and the impacts of settler and colonial violence. These select artists ask audiences to consider the unseen—including the victims of genocide, colonized lands, and displaced persons—through the surrogate of the performer(s) in anxiety-producing or extremely vulnerable scenarios. This project integrates Indigenous and Third World feminisms, affect theory, new materialism, and performance theories in their shared concern with presence, liveness and dispossession.

Lily holds a Bachelor’s in English and Gender and Sexuality Studies from Bryn Mawr College and her Masters of Education from Hunter College's Graduate School of Education. She is the recipient of the MIT SHASS Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship (2016-2017), the Joukowsky Summer Research Award (Spring 2016), the Cogut Center's "Brown in the World" Travel Grant for humanities scholars (2016) and the RISD Spalter Teaching Fellowship (2016-2018).