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A Socio-Cultural Interpretation of Bahamian Urban Architecture and Artifact

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Marga Jann, RIBA, AIA, DPUC.

Architect and Visiting Research Fellow Marga Jann has been a tireless advocate of design education for the social and economic improvement of the developing world. She has taught in innumerable international settings, including France, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, N Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Hawaii and S Korea. Most recently Marga has been at the University of the Bahamas in Nassau.

It’s surprising how little many of us know about one of the closest neighbors of the United States, the archipelago nation of the Bahamas. How many of you were aware that the Bahamas is one of the few, if not the only, “officially” Christian nations? Christianity is mentioned in the preamble to the Bahamian constitution.

Part of Marga’s talk is devoted to the Junkanoo festival, the Bahamian carnival, which is held at the New Year. The origin of the name is unclear: it could refer to a folk hero named John Canoe, or to ‘gens inconnus’, unknown people, which evokes the masks used in the celebration. The festival dates back to when the enslaved people of the Bahamas received 2-3 days off from their labors at year’s end. Marga sees Junkanoo as a clear example of Bahamian creativity, which can serve as a basis for the creation of an indigenous design style.

The Bahamas have great potential, in part due to the high concentration of ultra-wealthy celebrity residents who should be sponsoring further development. Unfortunately, Marga tells us, income inequality in the Bahamas is one of the highest of any nation, and official corruption is rampant. (J Eipper, WAIS )

This talk is part of the CAMSED series.

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