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 Affiliate faculty in 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 studies. Her forthcoming book, Critical Dreaming: Feminist Performances Across the Indigenous Americas (NYU Press, 2025), is a transnational study of Indigenous artists that stages the urgency of embodied ways of knowing amidst the colonial decimation of culture, life, and land. Revealing the long and interconnected patterns of feminicide across the Americas, Mengesha demonstrates how contemporary feminist artists use performance to sustain life amid devastating attempts at extermination. The book argues for dreaming as a tool to seek accountability for harm, revise colonial history, and manifest Indigenous futures. You can find her other writing in the Journal for Dramatic Theory and Criticism, ASAP Journal, Canadian Theatre Review and The Drama Review.

Dr. Mengesha's research has been supported by various awards, grants and fellowships including the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, 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.