Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Ayantu Israel-Megerssa

2022–23 Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science
Project “Impossible Objects: Democratic Pessimism and a Politics of Contamination”
Last updated June 20, 2023, based on June 2022 biographical sketch


Ayantu Israel-Megerssa is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, with a focus in political theory. She is interested in the role of doubt in black political thought, particularly as it grapples with the promises and failures of democratic politics. Her dissertation project, tentatively titled “The Arrival of Doubt: Disorientation, Democracy, and the Racial Politics of Skepticism,” will read afropessimism as partaking in a tradition of skepticism reaching back to Descartes. The project seeks to develop an account of doubt that staves off the un-worlding disorientation of nihilistic skepticism. In order to do this, she will read various black political thinkers as endeavoring to “re-world” in the wake of doubt, precisely by performing and miming the very doubt that disorients and ungrounds them.


Meet the Fellows talk: “The Racial Politics of Skepticism”