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Allyson Purpura

Profile picture for Allyson Purpura

Contact Information

500 E. Peabody Dr.
M/C 592
Champaign, IL 61820
Senior Curator & Curator of Global African Art, Krannert Art Museum


Allyson Purpura (PhD, CUNY Graduate Center) is Senior Curator and Curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum. Her research on Islamic expertise in Zanzibar, Tanzania led to her interest in the broader connections between knowledge, power, and constructions of category, particularly as they play out in the representational practices of museums. In addition to her teaching and curatorial work, Purpura has published on a range of topics including Islamic charisma and piety in Zanzibar, script and image in African art, “undisciplined” knowledge, ephemeral art, and the politics of exhibiting African art. Select projects include an award-winning reinstallation of KAM’s African art collection, and solo exhibitions with artists Allan deSouza, Wosene Worke Kosrof, Moshekwa Langa, Victor Ekpuk, and Nnenna Okore. She has recently opened a major traveling exhibition on the itinerant arts of the Swahili coast co-curated with art historian Prita Meier. A companion volume co-edited by Meier and Purpura will be published in 2018. Purpura's research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the US Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hayes program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.