Michelle Castañeda

Assistant Professor

Michelle Castañeda

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 law. She has published and lectured at the intersection of performance studies and legal studies, aiming to elucidate the politics of legal procedures through their choreographic, sartorial, and theatrical dimensions. Her piece on family detention, “No-Show Justice: The Mise-En-Scene of Immigration Detention,” appears in the edited collection, New Media and Law, with Edinburgh University Press.

She is currently working on a manuscript titled, Imaginary Rooms: Immigration Law, Accompaniment, and the Mise-en-Scene of Disappearance, which focuses on the current escalation of legal violence toward undocumented people in the U.S. Rather than adopt a macroscopic perspective, Imaginary Rooms analyzes individual scenes of immigration courtrooms that Castañeda witnessed as a community organizer, Spanish language interpreter, and performance maker with immigrant advocacy organizations and the Sanctuary movement. In the tradition of “writing as performance,” the book is intended to serve not only as an account of the scenography of those rooms but as a rehearsal space in which to imagine the decriminalization of migration. This research thus proposes a role for performance studies in wider conversations around prison abolition and the freedom of movement.

Michelle’s future projects will draw upon interests such as dance and movement theory, theories of imagination, and the role of energy-based healing practices within contemporary social movements.


Brown University

Ph.D. - Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

Providence, Rhode Island


Trinity Laban

Master of Arts - Dance Theatre

London, England


Yale University

Bachelor of Arts - Political Science

New Haven, Connecticut