Michelle Castañeda joined the Department of Performance Studies as Assistant Professor in Fall 2019. She holds a Ph.D. from Brown University's Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, an M.A. in Dance Theatre from Trinity Laban, London, and a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University.
Michelle’s research and teaching interests focus on migration, Latino/a and Latin American studies, dance, and critical legal studies. Her book, Disappearing Rooms: the Hidden Theaters of Immigration Law (Duke University Press, 2023) analyzes three sites of immigration law: family detention, asylum hearings, and deportation (“removal”) procedures. Rather than adopt a macroscopic perspective, Disappearing Rooms analyzes individual scenes that Castañeda witnessed as a Spanish language interpreter and performance maker with immigrant advocacy organizations and the Sanctuary movement. Working at the intersection of performance studies and legal studies, Disappearing Rooms elucidates the politics of legal procedures through their choreographic, scenographic, and theatrical dimensions. In the tradition of “writing as performance,” the book not only analyzes the theatricality of these rooms but also offers a rehearsal space in which to imagine alternatives to criminalization. Thanks to a grant from the TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) initiative from the Association of American Universities, the electronic version of the book is available for free.
Michelle’s future projects will draw upon interests such as dance and movement theory, grief and the pandemic, and the role of energy-based healing practices within contemporary social movements.