DOPE 2020 Invited Speakers

Keynote speaker

Alaka Wali, Ph.D.

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.

Plenary Panel

Diana Ojeda, Ph.D.

Associate Professor,
Cider (Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre Desarrollo), Universidad de lost Andes (Bogotá, Colombia)

Diana Ojeda is a feminist geographer whose work bridges political ecology and feminist geopolitics. Based on her research experience in the Colombian Caribbean, Diana has contributed to the study of issues such as land grabbing, dispossession and the politics of conservation. Her recent publications address neo-Malthusianism in climate change discourse and policy, and her current research explores the relation between gender and agrarian extractivism.

Macarena Gómez-Barris, Ph.D.

Professor, Social Science and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New York, USA)

Director of the Global South Center

Macarena’s instructional focus is on Latinx and Latin American Studies, memory and the afterlives of violence, decolonial theory, the art of social protest, and queer femme epistemes. At Pratt Institute, she works with a vibrant community of scholars, activists, intellectuals, and students to find alternatives to the impasses produced by racial and extractive capitalism. 


Macarena is an author of Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (2009), co-editor with Herman Gray of Towards a Sociology of the Trace (2010), The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (2017) and Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Politics in the Americas (2018). She is a Duke University Press series editor, with Diana Taylor, of Dissident Acts, and was Fulbright Fellow at FLACSO-Quito in Ecuador (2014–15). She is the current co-editor with Marcial Godoy-Anatavia of e-misférica, an online trilingual journal on hemispheric art and politics (NYU).

Justin Dunnavant, Ph.D.

Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellow, Spatial Analysis Research Laboratory, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

Justin holds a BA in History and Anthropology from Howard University and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Florida. While his former research interrogated the history and representation of minority groups in southern Ethiopia, his current work in the US Virgin Islands investigates the relationship between ecology and enslavement in the former Danish West Indies. Justin has conducted archaeological research in US Virgin Islands, Belize, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and The Gambia.


 As a regular participant in Diving with A Purpose’s Maritime Archaeology Training Program, Justin is developing his skills in maritime archaeology. Working with DWP, he has assisted with the documentation of the Slobodna and Acorn wrecks as well as the search for the slave ship, Guerrero. In addition to his archaeological research, Justin is co-founder and President of the Society of Black Archaeologists, an AAUS Scientific SCUBA Diver, and consults for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Slave Wrecks Project.

Welcome Address

Rebecca Elmhirst, Ph.D.

Reader, Human Geography & Deputy Head, the School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton (Brighton, UK)

Rebecca is a human geographer and political ecologist, with two decades of research and teaching experience on struggles over environmental governance, migration and social justice in the global South.

 Most of her work is in partnership with scholar-activists in Southeast Asia, with whom she has developed various programmes of research and teaching. These include current projects on the gender dimensions of oil palm investment in Indonesia, links between migrant remittances, livelihoods and resource access, and on living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia. She is a Principal Investigator in the WEGO (Wellbeing, Ecology and Gender) MSCA Innovative Training Network on feminist political ecology.


Rebecca is a member of the Centre of Excellence for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics and for Aquatic Environments. She also sits in the Society, Space and Environment research group. Rebecca has published more than 40 journal articles and chapters, co-edited three books and contributed to popular publications. Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the European Commission, the Research Council of Norway and European Commission Horizon 2020.