Emese Ilyes

My name is Emese Ilyes (quirky Hungarian name that sounds a bit like ‘Eh-meh-sheh’) and I have to confess that I find myself in awe everyday of the many beautiful adventures in my life which led me to where I am today. Not long ago and not so terribly far away, I was coordinating a couple of urban farms in Portland, Oregon. Prior to that, I was part of a collaborative dream crafting an intervention in the structurally violent world of sheltered workshops (segregated, exploitative warehouses serving as designated ‘work’ sites but often paying pennies per hour to individuals with disabilities). Today I find myself at the Graduate Center. Here, I have the utter joy of pursuing the academic interrogation, provocation, exploration, and celebration of the social justice issues I have pursued throughout my life.

I’m passionate about and actively writing/thinking/theorizing/interrogating a variety of topics. As a Hungarian immigrant from Romania, I am drawn to questions about the restless search for home familiar to many immigrants. I  also have the honor of weaving together different but vibrant strands of my past and present in my work in disability rights. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the lived experience of moral exclusion and how individuals oppressed by socially constructed and violent labels like “intellectual disability” resist and challenge discrimination. I’m committed to envisioning radical possibilities where the incarceration of people with intellectual disabilities is replaced by justice.
Advisor: Dr. Susan Opotow

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