Alaka Wali, Curator, North American Anthropology
in the Science and Education Division of The Field Museum
Photo Credit: Erielle Bakkum
Alaka was the founding director of the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change from 1995- 2010. During that time, she pioneered the development of participatory social science action research and community engagement processes based in museum science to further access of museum resources for excluded communities. Before joining the Museum, she worked with Dr. Leith Mullings to document the consequences of structural racism on black women’s reproductive and social health in Harlem, N.Y.
Currently, she curates the North American collection, comprised largely of material culture of Native Americans from the late 19th century to the present and works closely with colleagues to implement environmental conservation programs that privilege economic and cultural autonomy for politically marginalized people in both Chicago and the Amazon regions of Peru. Her research focuses on the relationship between art and the capacity for social resilience. Alaka was born in India and maintains strong ties to her birth homeland.
The Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference—or DOPE—is organized and hosted by the Political Ecology Working Group (PEWG). PEWG is an interdisciplinary group of graduate students at the University of Kentucky. Since its inception in 2010, this student-organized conference has become one of the largest, most highly regarded international forums for critical discussions at the intersection of ecology, political economy, and science studies.