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Michelle Castañeda’s Disappearing Rooms: The Hidden Theaters of Immigration Law

Book Launch

Thursday, March 30, 2023 | 6PM EST / In-person event

Hemispheric Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 5th FL

The Hemispheric Institute is thrilled to celebrate the publication of Disappearing Rooms: The Hidden Theaters of Immigration Law (Duke, 2023) with author Michelle Castañeda and special guests Molly Crabapple (who illustrated the book), Lilian Mengesha, Ángeles Donoso Macaya, and Myrna Lazcano. The book focuses on the recent escalation of legal violence against undocumented people in the United States and analyzes individual scenes of immigration courtrooms that Castañeda witnessed as a Spanish-language interpreter and performance maker with immigrant advocacy organizations and the Sanctuary movement. 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.

This event will be in Spanglish.

This is a virtual and in-person event.


Michelle Castañeda

Michelle Castañeda is Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at NYU Tisch. Her research applies perspectives from dance and theater to study the embodied dimension of law. Through this cross-disciplinary method, her work offers new ways of understanding—and resisting—policies of criminalization, deportation, and incarceration.


Molly Crabapple

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer based in New York. She is the author of two books, Drawing Blood and Brothers of the Gun (with Marwan Hisham), which was long-listed for a National Book Award in 2018. Her reportage “How the Taxi Workers Won” is the 2022 winner of the Bernhart Labor Journalism Award and has been published in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and elsewhere. Her art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art. Her animations have been nominated for three Emmys and won an Edward R. Murrow Award.


Lily Mengesha

Lily Mengesha is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at Tufts University. Her research and teaching live at the intersection of critical Indigenous studies, gender and sexuality studies and performance theory. Her current book project argues for dreaming as a critical tool for performance practice, particularly in the works of Indigenous-centered and feminist artists across North and Central America. She holds a PhD from Brown University. 


Ángeles Donoso Macaya

Ángeles Donoso Macaya is an immigrant educator, researcher and activist from Santiago, Chile, based in New York City. She teaches Latin American Visual Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center, and is also Professor of Spanish at the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY. Her research centers on Latin American photography theory and history, counter-archival production, human rights activism, documentary film, feminisms in the Southern Cone. She is the author of La insubordinación de la fotografía / The Insubordination of Photography: Documentary Practices under Chile’s Dictatorship, which received the Best Book Award in Latin American Visual Culture (LASA 2021), Best Book Award in Recent History and Memory (LASA 2022), and an Honorable Mention Award for the Socolow-Johnson Prize (CLAH 2022).


Myrna Lazcano

Myrna Lazcano is a migrants’ rights activist and community organizer in East Harlem, New York. Lazcano migrated to the United States from San Hipólito Xochiltenango, Puebla, Mexico, and has dedicated her life and her work to fighting for the rights and dignity of all people who are impacted and displaced by state violence.

Hemispheric Institute
20 Cooper Square, 5th FL
New York, NY 10003

Event Access

This is a virtual and in-person event that requires registration

In-person attendance is open to both NYU students, staff, and faculty who are compliant with NYU’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, and to others who can show ID and proof of vaccination (2 shots + 1 booster) at the door.