Makalé Cullen

Makale Cullen
Senior External Advisor

Makalé is a cultural anthropologist and curator specializing in the interfaces and exchanges between cultures and ecologies. Over the past 20 years she has researched, documented, and presented the human and plant stewards of meaningful places throughout North America for legacy institutions, including the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. She was the summer 2021 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden’s Institute for Economic Botany and the Humanities Institute, an inaugural joint appointment.

Makalé’s fieldwork and curated projects have contributed to a more inclusive mapping of North American biodiversity, resulting in the restoration of multiple landscapes and economies. She founded and spent seven years directing an ethnographic research agency in New York City that developed site-specific installations, way-finding analyses, and design briefs for Whole Foods, SHED, Belcampo and General Mills, among others. Prior to that, in agriculture, as the first American Director of Programs for Slow Food in partnership with Seed Savers Exchange, The Livestock Conservancy, Native Seeds/SEARCH and others, she traveled throughout the US documenting farmers, wild harvesters and stewards of at-risk-of-extinction fruits, vegetables and livestock breeds. This work led to the sustained restoration efforts of 45 wild food species and habitats and 642 species of cultivated food plants as well as the co-creation of six independent harvester and producer associations across the nation.

Makalé holds degrees in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Virginia and George Mason University, as well as a Certificate in Horticulture from the New York Botanical Garden. She is a contributing author to four books and multiple articles on landscapes and material culture. She has worked with the Philadelphia Folklore Project, served on the Board of Directors of the Southern Foodways Alliance and as a multi-year panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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