Melissa Bilal is a Distinguished Research Fellow at UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and a Lecturer in the Department of Ethnomusicology. Dr. Bilal comes from the American University of Armenia, where she is an Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Previously, she held the positions of Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies in NELC at the University of Chicago, Visiting Scholar of History at MIT, Visiting Faculty of Armenian Studies in MESAAS at Columbia University, Visiting Lecturer of History at Boğaziçi University, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Orient-Institut Istanbul, and Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Music at Columbia University.
Her recent publications include “Lullabies and the Memory of Pain: Armenian Women’s Remembrance of the Past in Turkey” (Dialectical Anthropology 2019, 43/2), an article that reads Armenian women’s lullabies and narratives of the past as reserves of an affective memory and discusses their potential to critique the neoliberal memory politics in Turkey; Voice Imprints: Recordings of Russian Armenian POWs in German Camps, 1916-1918 (Berlin Staatliche Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Forthcoming 2019), a CD project that aims to bring the Armenian experience in relation to musicology’s colonial history into public audibility; My Heart is like those Ruined Houses: Gomidas Vartabed’s Musical Legacy (with Burcu Yıldız, 2019), a volume in Turkish on one of the founders of modern (ethno)musicology.
In 2017, together with Dr. Lerna Ekmekcioglu of MIT, Bilal launched the Annual Feminist Armenian Studies Workshop and founded the Feminist Armenian Research Collective (FemARC). Ekmekcioglu and Bilal are the co-editors of the book A Cry for Justice: Five Armenian Feminist Writers from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey (1862–1933) (in Turkish, 2006) and are now collaborating on Feminism in Armenian: An Interpretive Anthology and Digital Archive, a book and digital humanities project focusing on twelve Armenian feminist writers who were active in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman contexts and their diasporas.
Ph.D. Music (Ethnomusicology), University of Chicago; M.A. Sociology, Boğaziçi University; B.A. Sociology, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul.