Alaka Wali, PhD

Curator Emerita of North American Anthropology | Negaunee Integrated Research Center | USA

Alaka Wali is the curator emerita of North American Anthropology in the Negaunee Integrated Research and Collections of the Field Museum. She was the founding director of the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change from 1995-2010. During that time, Alaka pioneered the development of participatory social science research and community engagement processes based in museum science. She curated the North American collection, one of the Museum’s largest regional anthropology holdings. Since 2000, Alaka worked closely with ecologists and museum educators to develop innovative community engagement strategies for people living in and around biodiverse regions of the Western Amazon and urban Chicago. These efforts are now centered in the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum. Her research focuses on the relationship between art and the capacity for social resilience. Alaka has authored several books and monographs, published over 50 articles, has curated numerous exhibitions and led the curation of the renovation of the North American Anthropology Hall, which opened in May 2022. Alaka retired in 2022 but continues to write and contribute to efforts for environmental conservation.