Lilian Mengesha

Lilian Mengesha

Aidekman Arts Complex
Research/Areas of Interest: Critical Indigenous Studies, Performance Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies


  • PhD, Brown University, USA, 2018
  • MA, Theater Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University, United States, 2014
  • MS Ed, Education, Hunter College, New York, United States
  • AB, English, Gender and Sexuality Studiesand Political Science, Bryn Mawr College, United States, 2010


Lilian (Lily) Mengesha is the Fletcher Foundation Assistant Professor of Dramatic Literature in the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, and the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora. Her research and teaching live at the intersection of critical Indigenous studies, gender and sexuality studies and performance theory. Her current book project, Critical Dreaming: Performance and Decoloniality in the Americas, argues for dreaming as a critical tool for decolonial practice, particularly in the works of Indigenous-centered and feminist artists throughout North and Central America. Her research seeks to illuminate how artists use their bodies as active agents for documenting legacies of dispossession as well as blueprints for healing and transformation.

She is the receipt of the 2021 Career Enhancement Fellowship through the Institute for Citizens and Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson Foundation). Starting in November 2021, she will serve on the Executive Committee for the American Society for Theatre Research.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, Dr. Mengesha co-collaborated on a New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) research seminar entitled "Undisciplining Performance" along with fellow performance studies scholars Christine Mok (URI), AB Brown (Colby College) and Tufts colleague Kareem Khubchandani. In addition to the NEHC award, Dr. Mengesha's research has been supported by various awards, grants and fellowships including the Center for Humanities at Tufts, MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, the American Society for Theatre Research, the Joukowsky Family Foundation, the Cogut Center for the Humanities, the Pembroke Center for the Research and Teaching of Women, the Social Science Research Council and Mellon Mays Foundation.

In addition to her research, Dr. Mengesha works as a director and dramaturge, and collaborates on performance events and installations.