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Janet Purdy


PhD Candidate, Department of Art History

My dissertation, Carved Swahili Doors: Gateways of Status, Trade, and Transaction in East Africa, examines the fluid characteristics of regional vocabularies and networks that have existed for millennia along the eastern coast of Africa. I focus on elaborately carved doors, commissioned in the nineteenth century to adorn and define exterior spaces. Examined by style, location, patron, and audience, they functions as a form of historical documentation to elucidate symbolic and social connections across Indian Ocean and African trade routes. I aim to recover the information long held in these distinctive Swahili architecture and art forms that evolved at the center of global and cultural convergences.