" All that glitters is not Junkanoo"; : The national junkanoo museum and the politics of tourism and identity.

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" All that glitters is not Junkanoo"; : The national junkanoo museum and the politics of tourism and identity.
Mackey, Ressa
Mackey, Ressa
Place of Publication:
Nassau, Bahamas
College of The Bahamas
Florida State University
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x, 94 p. ; col. ill ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Junkanoo -- Culture -- Bahamas ( mets )
nonfiction (general genre) ( aat )
Spatial Coverage:
Tampa, Florida
Target Audience:
General ( marctarget )


The annual Junkanoo festival in the Bahamas is regarded as “the ultimate national symbol,” representative of Bahamian sovereignty and culture. A festival that originated from Bahamian slaves, Junkanoo has evolved into a popular commercial and cultural event that features extravagant, crépe-paper costumes. This paper analyzes the role of the commodified Junkanoo costume in constructing a Bahamian national and cultural identity.
Thesis--Florida State University (College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance)
Statement of Responsibility:
Ressa Mackey

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Florida State University
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College of The Bahamas
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All rights reserved by the source institution.
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FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF VISUAL ARTS, THEATRE AND DANCE THE NATIONAL JUNKANOO MUSEUM AND THE POLITICS OF TOURISM AND IDENTITY By RESSA MACKEY A Thesis submitted to the Department of Art History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Degree Awarded Fall Semester, 2009


ii The members of the committee approve the thesis of Ressa Mackey defended on August 18, 2009. ________________________________ __ Roald Nasgaard Professor Directing Thesis _______________________________ ___ Karen Bearor Committee Member __________________________________ Michael Carrasco Committee Member Approved: _______________________________ Adam J olles, Co Chair, Department of Art History _______________________________ Sally McRorie, Dean, College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance The Graduate School has verified and approved the above named committee members.


iii To Michael and Abigail


iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I would like to thank the members of my committee, Roald Nasgaard, Karen Bearor, and Michael Ca rra sco, whose guid ance and patience tremendously benefitted my project. I am also grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by the Penelope E. Mason Grant, which enabled me to witness the Junkanoo festival and interview several of the Junkanoo artists. My understandin g of the festival was truly enriched by the testimonies provided by Stan Burnside, Angelique McKay Mornette Curtis, Jackson Burnside, and Eddy Dames Accomplishing my thesis would not have been possible without the help of my family and friends. I would like to thank my wonderful team of babysitters, notably Connie and Colleen Rawson and Arenthia Herren, who provided me with the free time I needed to complete my thesis. I am especially thankful to Deirdre Carter, whose assistance during the final stages of this project truly I appreciate. Finally, thank you Michael for all your love and support throughout this experience


v TABLE OF CONTENTS vi ix 1 11 Chapter Three: .. 27 Chapter Four: The Institutionaliz ... 41 .. 52 55 Bibliography 90 Biographical Ske 94


vi LIST OF FIGURES 1 black politicians. Off the Shoulder Dancers. 2009. Nassau, The 2 Lead Piece. Date Unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival 3 Exhibited Lead Piece at the Junkanoo Expo. 2001. Nassau, The Bahamas. stroying: The J 45 4 5 Junkanoo groups performing in Washington, D.C. 1992. Ferguson, I C ome to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival 6 The Island of the Bahamas advertisement campaign, Ministry of Tourism. 2004. Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics ............ .. 19 7 Da Junkanoo Shak Bahamian Restaurant & Bar. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by 8 Five dollar bill featuring Junkanoo masqueraders. Bahamian currency. R eleased in 2007 9 Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festiva l 10 Ship headdresses, paper fringed costumes, and white masks. Exact date unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Originally published in Irade A. Reid, The John Canoe Festival 1942. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival 20 11 Paper fringed costumes. 1957. N assau, The Bahamas. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival 12 the Valley Boys 50 th anni versary. Off the Shoulder Dancer. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by


vii 13 Junkanoo masqueraders parodying English dress. Date unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Fe stival 14 Off the Shoulder Dancer featuring the Rams football team. 2007. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by Sam Singh, obtained through Flickr, 15 Off the Sh oulder Dancer featuring Barack Obama. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. 16 Choreographed Dancer. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author 17 Photo by author 18 black politicians, sponsored by Shell Oil. Lead Piece. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by 19 in re sponse to The Bahamas debated use of the death penalty. 2009. 45 20 Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author 21 Frame Dancer costumed as a snowmobile rider. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. 22 Junkanoo Parade. Lead Piece. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Ph 23 Scrapper banner recognizing sponsorship from SOBE Energy Drink. 2009. N assau, The Bahamas. Photo b


viii 24 Discarded co stumes after the Boxing Day parade 1986. Nassau, The Bahamas. Nunley and Bettelheim, Caribbean Festival Arts 25 Aluminum rods and cardboard frames for costumes. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival 26 Photo by Erin Clark, obtained through Flickr, 46/336013572/ 49 27 Exterior of the Junkanoo Expo. 2001. Nassau, The Bahamas. 28, 38 28 Exhibite d Lead Piece at the Junkanoo Expo. 2001. Nassau, The Bahamas. 34, 45 29 Festival Place market and welcome center. 2008. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by Andrew, obtained through Flick r, 30 Market stall inside Festival Place. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. 31 Interior of the National Junkanoo Museum, main exhibition space, still under construction. January 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author 32 Future site of the Junkanoo restaurant, within the museum space. January 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author 33 Exact date unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Originally published in Reid, The John Canoe Festival, 1942. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival 46 34 Lead Piece resembling a float more than a costume. 2009. Nassa u, The Bahamas. Photo by 46 35 Off the shoulder costume displayed at Festival Place. 2009. Nassa u, The Bahamas. Photo by author 49


ix ABSTRACT Bahamian slaves, Junkanoo has evolved into a popular commercial and cultural even t that features extravagant, cr pe paper costumes. This paper analyzes the role of the commodified Junkanoo costume in constructing a Bahamian national and cult ural identity. Specif ically, it analyze s the history and policies of the National Junkanoo Museum, the first institution to display the costumes outside their performative context. Through a interdisciplinary approach that incorporates methodologies from art history, sociol ogy, and museum studies, I argue that Junkanoo serves a commercial purpose, which the National Junkanoo Museum perpetuates by displaying the costumes for touristic consumption. My thesis is based on three separate grounds of analysis. First I examine the and dynamic nature by analyzing Notably, I consider involvement and administration of the parade which significantly impacted the iconography materiality, and ephemerality. Next I view the National Junkanoo Museum within the context of other Caribbean Museums to conclude that the institution encounters similar challenges to its neighbors, which include recon its objectives to bolster cultural tourism. Finally, I demonstrate how the National Junkanoo Museum diverges from standard stead of assembling a permanent collection, t he museum operates as a non collecting institution by exhibiting the costumes only on an annual basis and then returning the objects to the Junkanoo artists who proceed to dismantle and recycle their costumes. policy reflects However, I contend that the use of nostalgia as a museum epistemology is less about an effort to restore than it is an indication of the pervasiveness of the tourism industry in formulating a Bahamian national and cultural identity. as an ide ntifiable, authentic Bahamian product, which the government facilitates by promoting


x the costumes as national symbols of Bahamian culture and appropriating them into a national museum system.


1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION During the early morning hours of 2 6 December and 1 January the city of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, celebrates the annual Junkanoo festival with a parade of live musicians, choreographed dancers, and extravagant costumes (Fig. 1) 1 The 26 December spectacle is known as the Boxing Da y parade while the demonstrations that occur on 1 January parade are Day parades are two separate events with entirely different sets of costumes, both parades comprise the J unkanoo festival. What originally beg a n as a recreational activity of Bahamian slaves has evolved into the premiere cultural event and a profitable tourist attraction. 2 The h tourists and locals is driven by t he perception of Junkanoo as an authentic Bahamian product. Repeatedly described principal component in developing a Bahamian collective identity. 3 Accordingly, it is no surprise t hat a uthenticity and cultural identity are fiercely debated topics withi n the Bahamian community. and close proximity to the United States diminishes the genuineness of Bahamian culture. For instance i n 2003, a reporter for the Nassau Guardian wrote an article that questioned the role of fast food was as Bahamian as the conch fritters served at the Bamboo Shac k. The reporter argued : Those of us who are tempted to denounce him and dismiss his proclamation are missing the point he's making. For so long we've been taught to approach culture as something to do with things w ith food, performance, Junkanoo, music, a rt, dance, you name it t hat 1 Both parades begin a t 2:00 a.m. and usually end around 10:00 a.m. the next morning. 2 Each Junkanoo parade attracts approximately 50,000 spectators; no small feat for an island with a population Commonwealth of The Bahamas, AEFBE A06256ED10071AF8C (accessed June 30, 2009). 3 (paper presented at the Junkanoo Symposium, Nassau, The Bahamas, March 19, 2003).


2 we've bought into that myth. Because we've been taught to believe that culture consists of objects, we get very defensive when people mess with our objects, believing that if you take them away from us, we're in trouble Be fore we claim some things as Bahamian, then, before we dismiss others as not before we pump money into preserving something that gives us our 'identity' [emphasis added] I suggest we take a lesson from the young man who named Wendy's Bahamian. 4 Conse quently my thesis explores the role of the commodified Junkanoo costume in constructing a Bahamian national and cultural identity. The costumes have been subject to act ivities and appearances in order An important contributing factor to the commodification process is the National Junkanoo Museum the first institution to exhibit the costumes outside their performative context By analyzing the history and p olicies of the National Junkanoo Museum one can better understand the ensuing theoretical and practical debates over contemporary Junkanoo practices and Bahamian identity In 1993, a group of Junkanoo artists establishe d a permanent exhibition space for displaying the winning Junkanoo costumes from the annual parades (Figs. 2 and 3 ) 5 Referred to distinctly Bahamian art form. However, d intentions, exhibiting and preserving the costumes contradicted the objects nature Not only was the Expo preser ving the costumes also proved apparel immediately following the parade s. Typically a fter the parade s finale, many Junkanoo performers simply leave their costumes alongside the sidewalks and streets fo r sanitation crew s to collect and haul to the city dump (Fig. 4). 6 4 The Nassau Guardian, June 2, 2003. 5 The Junkanoo costume is a marvelous feat of engineering in which a single performer wears an ensemble that weighs between twenty to fifty pounds, and rises anywhere from six to ten feet in the air. Several different types of costumes exist, ranging from smaller, less constraining outfits worn by the choreographed dancers; to the enormous and captivating Off the Shoulder costumes worn by adult men and women; and finally, the Lead Pieces which function more as floats than costumes but are still operated by a single indi vidual. Costume production is a communal activity that occurs mostly at night in high See Arlene N ash Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: A n Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival (Nas sau: Doongalik Studios, 2000), 20 21, 24 30


3 At the time, the Bahamian community supported the efforts to preserve the costumes Since the items had reached a certain level of aesthetic development that permitted their use as symbols of Bahamian culture, the Junkanoo community felt that destroying the costumes no longer seemed appropriate. Despite the strong support for a permanent collection in 2004 the museum renamed itself the National Junkanoo Museum of the Bahamas and introduced a new exhibition policy that reinstituted the costum Currently, t he institution no longer works with a permanent collection, but instead, encourages Junkanoo artists to loan their costumes to the museum for a year long exhibition. At the end of the year, the artists reclaim their costumes and disassemble the la rge wings, shoulder pieces, and cardboard skirts The museum then replaces th eir former exhibition with a completely new inventory of costumes f rom the most recent parade. Essentially, by allowing artists the opportunity to salvage their costumes, the museum sanctions the destruction of the costumes My thesis examine s issues of authenticity, commodi fication, and nostalgia to conclude that since the 1920s, Junkanoo largely has served a commercial purpose. However, t his function is frequently challenged by many Bahamians who feel that the commodified version of Junkanoo depreciates the substantive qualities of Bahamian culture. After all, t he mu within Festival Place, the tourism center of the Bahamas, suggests that the museum mostly appeals to tourists groups and that visitor s exposure to Junkanoo is commodified travel experience 7 The insistence th at Junkanoo must retain its parade s from its historical route on Bay Street to the Queen Elizabeth Sports Complex. 8 Many in t he Junkanoo community responded hars hly to the proposal, holding public meetings, press conferences, protests, and strikes in oppositio n. Two of the largest Junkanoo groups, the Saxon 6 According to many contemporary Junkanoo artists, including Eddy Dames, Stan Burnside, Angelique McKay, and Jackson Burnside, the rooted competitive spirit to devise new creations each ye ar 7 Mark Gottdiener, New Forms of Consumption: Consumers, Culture, and Commodification (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing, 2000), 63. 8 The new location would have better accommodated the growing number of spectators and performers, eliminating the increasing challenges of over crowding and safety Additionally, the financial gains projected from hosting the parade in a more tourist Clement E. Bethel, Junkanoo: Festival of the Bahamas, ed. Nicolette Bethel (Oxford: Macmillian Caribbean, 1992), 90 The Tribune, and Valley Boys Will Defy Move to The Tribune, October10, 1989.


4 Superstars and the Valley Boys, held protests in Rawson Square (a prominent tourist attraction) and shouted 9 In the end, the Junkanoo groups halted all costume production, which forced the Ministry of Tourism and the National Junkanoo Committee to reconsider their decision to move the parade s 10 Nonetheless, discountin commercial aspects ignores the significant impact in constructing a Bahamian identity. As corroborated by Bahamian scholar Nicolette Bethel, Junkanoo represents the culmination of the tales of identification told to the self (Bahamians) and to the other (touris ts and other 11 A growing portion of the Bahamian community recognizes the potential marketability of Junkanoo and several artists and community leaders support the linkage o f Junkanoo with tourism. McKay intends to make the museum mutually beneficial to the cultural and touristic needs of the country. Accordingly, I argue that the National Junkanoo Museum appropriat es the costumes in perception of Junkanoo as an identifiable, authentic Bahamian product by both tourists and locals commercial function T he museu m consequently manipulates the the museum appeals to nostalgic sentiments and therewith constructs a discourse of nostalgia as a means to augment the costu function. However, I also demonstrate how the use of nostalgia as a museum epistemology generates significant controversies and paradoxes that question the costumes and the Na reinstituting the practice of destroying the costumes speaks little of the Bahamian people traditions but instead, indicates the fundamental role of tourism in establishing museum p olicy The Junkanoo festival is primarily studied by musicologists and anthropologists who Almost every Junkanoo scholar continue s tion An A Wisdom provided the first comprehensive 9 Clement E. Bethel, Junkanoo, 90 91. 10 Ibid., 91. 11


5 study of Junkanoo Furthermore, Wisdom was the first author tionalization efforts As well d omestic Bahamian scholars Arlene Nash Ferguson and Nicolette Bethel have publish ed extensively on I Come to Get Me: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival and Bethe Bahamas: A Tale of a national discourse in the Bahamas. My understanding of tourism and cultural identity in the Bahamas was greatly impacted by Bahamian novelist and cultural theorist Ian Strachan whose a nalyses the myth of the Bahamas as Paradise focus on the language and symbolism of tourism advertisements and its effects on Bahamian artistic production. Anthropologist Garth L. a pplication of nostalgia theory in his study of Trinidad Carnival provided me with a comparable study from which I was able to recognize a similar narrative within the Junkanoo festival. examines the political implications of nostalgic rhetoric and nostalgic enactments on the Carnival celebration as he analyzes the use value to a commodity 12 My argument certainly builds on these prior studies and I am espe cially grateful for the work of Bahamian unusual practices. N evertheless, my study of Junkanoo differs significantly from pervious scholarship as I bring an art historical perspective to the discussion of Junkanoo. My study challenges the perceived authenticity of the costumes as indigenous Bahamian objects by identifying the external political and economic structures that have shape d m ateriality, and significance. I aim to demonstrate that B efore we claim some things as Bahamian, and before we dismiss others as not controversies regarding the commodification of Junkanoo indicate a hierarchy wi thin material 12 ecific events that emerge out of representations of the past. These nostalgic activities are ways of doing and being that concretize identity and identification. It is in the charged representational and experiential space of art galleries, cultural shows, and even souvenir shops that we find the fluid movement between individual memories and representations. Through this dialectical process, people attain and demonstrate their understanding of their national identity through particular activities a nd representations in Trinidad Carnival: The Cultural Politics of a Transnational Festival, ed. Gart h L Green and Philip W. Scher ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007 ), 65.


6 culture that resembles the distinction between low and high art in which the signifiers of a particular culture may not accurately reflect the living culture that exists. In bringing more attention to this obscure, but highly complex cultura l event, I hope that my thesis will contribute to the scholarship on the Caribbean arts not only by providing the first extensive study of the National Junkanoo Museum, but also by exploring how community museums and cultural objects construct identity in postcolonial societies. Methodology The complexity of the topic requires an interdisciplinary approach in which I apply a variety of art historical, museological, and sociological methods to my analysis of Junkanoo. My methodology synthesizes social hi story, iconographic analysis, postcolonial studies, discourse theory, and the concept of nostalgia in order to provide a holistic understanding of the Junkanoo costumes. Throughout my discussion of the National Junkanoo Museum, I exam ine the politics a nd ideologies behind the construction of a national cultural identity through museum exhibits. I refer frequently to : The Role of Objects in National Identity published in 1994 and edited by Flora Kaplan, which provid es a number of case studies that critique the representation strategies employed by many museum in postcolonial societies typical usage in that during the Bahamia n colonial period, Spanish and British colonizers almost completely eradicated native Amerindian populations. In effect, the Bahamas do no t have an indigenous population. S unique hybrid group of A frican descendents Creole populations, and early colonizers. Interestingly, the African slaves although forcefully brought to the Bahamas can be considered a type of colonizer (rather than a colonized group) since they were not native inhabitants of th e Bahamas and essentially replaced the former population. This unique colonial experience certainly impacts the formation of a national identity in which contemporary Bahamians look to Mother Africa and not the Amerindians t o define their sense of culture and nationalism. Accordingly, the museums in this particular postcolonial society are not so much attempting to recove r a forgotten indigenous group, as characteristic of other postcolonial museums in Africa, Aus tralia, and the Pacific Islands, but inste ad are seeking to recognize its African heritage.


7 I also incorporate into my methodology the concept of nostalgia as outlined by social theorists Fred Davis and Bryan Turner. Derived from the field of sociology, the discourse of nostalgia provides cultural theorists, art historians, and anthropologists with an opportunity to understand how communities use the politics of memory and representations of the past to convey different ideas about cultural value and national identity. 13 In my study of Jun kanoo, I intend to use the principles of nostalgia to critique the myth of authenticity and possibly answer why the Bahamians are nostalgic for certain types of costumes and festival practices. I define nostalgia as a yearning for lost patterns of everyd ay life and the invention of a romanticized version of what can never be regained or recreated. 14 N ostalgia recalls only memories that serve the interests of the present, disregarding unpleasant and controversial historical components that do not conform t o a sentimentalized world view. 15 Moreover, Davis argues that nostalgia significantly impact s the formation of our pers onal and collective identities. Nostalgia provides humanity with a much needed sense of continuity by connecting people to their past and uniting individuals through shared experiences. 16 A decade later, Turner expanded by categorizing the four dimensions of nostalgia : as a sense of historical decline, an absence of person al wholeness or moral certainty, a sense of l os t personal freedom and autonomy, and a loss of simplicity, personal authentic it y, and emotional spontaneity. 17 While b oth sociologists discuss nostalgic sentiments with regard ns, I intend to expand on their theori es by including a consideration of culturally significant objects. Many Bahamians 13 65. 14 implicity, traditional stability and cultural integration Theory, Culture, & Society 4 (1987): 150, 152. Turner explains the evolution of nostal gia from a medical and moral concept to a model used for framing bourgeoisie values. During the Greek classical period and lasting until the sixteenth century, nostalgia was originally believed to be associated with melancholy and affected secluded indivi duals burdened with a heightened sense of moral consciousness. During the seventeenth century, a Dutch physician defined nostalgia as a physical symptom of homesickness, which indicated a continuation of the belief that nostalgia signified human alienatio n from the physical and social worlds. Overall, nostalgic melancholy infected those individuals dissatisfied with the illusions of reality, who either succumbed to depression or gained an existential 147 50. For an etymological study of the word, see Fred Davis, Yearning for Yesterday: A Sociology of Nostalgia (New York: The Free Press, 1979), 1 5. 15 Davis, Yearning for Yesterday, 37. 16 Ibid. 31. 17 51.


8 are nostalgic for the crpe paper costumes of the past since these particular types of costumes allegedly signify a story As well Bahamians have a sentimental yearning for the less formal, more spontaneous parade activities 18 Overall, n ostalgic sentiments deplore the commodification of Junkanoo because it constitutes a significant break from the past that threatens the cultural integrity of their community. P r cis of Chapters My thesis has five chapters, Chapter t wo traces the historical development of the Junkano o festival and applies a social historical approach to reveal the symbiotic relationship between the Junkanoo artists and c development of the costumes and examine the other principal changes in materiality, significance, and ephemerality government assumed control of the festival during the early twentieth centu ry and initiated a series of regulations meant to transform the parade s into a tourist friendly event. The stand ardization of Junkanoo preserved certain tangible qualities of the costumes which the government then markets to international audiences as cu ltural objects unique to the Bahamas. Bahamian product which the government facilitates by promoting the costumes as national symbols of Bahamian culture. I arg ue that although the earlier costumes signified the diasporic traditions of African slaves and their resistance towards colonial rule, contemporary Junkanoo costumes now convey a multitude of functions tourism in dustry. Chapter t hree analyzes the role of the National Junkanoo Museum in forming a collective identity and the conflicts that arise when nationalistic and economic agendas collide in a social institution. I examine the National Junkanoo Museum within the context of other Caribbean museums to reveal that the museum in question encounters the same challenges facing other Caribbean museums Following the typical pattern of museums 18 competitively driven activity and often performed between rivalry neighborhoods.


9 in postcolonial societies, the National J unkanoo Museum is expected to foster a national and cultural identity based on the rejection of Bahamian colonial history. By appealing to the characteristics people and exhibits the objects as material evidence of the non European heritage. However, the demands of the tourism industry affect the representation of the costumes. In the service of touris m, the National Junkanoo Museum commodifies the heritage of its people a nd perpetuates a version of the costumes that ironically, resemb les that of past rather than its new national and cultural identity I argue that the museum encounters conflicting demands for the costumes : to represent a new nation alistic identity and to fit neatly into a commodified package for tourist consumption Chapter f our examines the paradoxes and tice of forgoing a permanent collection I apply the National Junkanoo Museum collection policy in order to analyze nostalgic sentiment as a theory of knowledge for authentic ating the costumes, which as I argue becomes a pressing issue once the museum assumes a new commercial function. The National Junkanoo Museum manipulates the actual objects and former Junkanoo traditions in order to construct a discourse of nost algia First, the museum displays and recognizes only those costumes which conform to a nostalgic world view in the case of the Bahamas, beautifully ornate costumes that support romantic assumptions of t r opicality 19 Second, t he museum maintains continuity with the past by reinstituting the practice of destroying the costumes in an attempt to retain the objects. costumes connect s present day Junkanoo customs with the traditions of the past, at the same time, it com plica tes the distinction between authenticity and inauthenticity Furthermore, the paradigm of nostalgia p aradoxically both conflicts with and support 19 reference to the representational structures and discourses that romanticize the Bahamas as a picturesque, ta med, and orderly jungle environment with naturalized black populations. See Krista A. Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 149 55; and Ian Strachan, Paradise a nd Plantation : Tourism and Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean, ed. A. James Arnold (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002), 5.


10 Chapter f ive concludes my analysis of Junkanoo. I provide a summary of the preceding chapters and reiterate my argument concerning the National Junkanoo Museum and cultural identity.


11 C HAPTER TWO JUNKANOO: FROM SLAVERY TO TOURISM My first chapter analyzes the development of the Junkanoo festival from a recreational slave activity to a profitable tourist attraction. By following a social historical approach, I identify the various pol itical and economic forces responsible for the commodification of support of the parade s during the twentieth century. With in this context, I examine the e ffects of easures on the Junkanoo costume s materiality, iconography, and ephemerality. The costumes have come to represent the cultural identity of the Bahamian people, an image perpetuated by the Bahamian government which promotes Ju nkanoo as a only lucrative industry. I argue that contemporary Junkanoo costumes take on a commercial function that differs considerably from their earlier ro le as oppositional tools against British colonial rule. As indicated throughout this chapter, a dichotomy has developed between the Bahamians who support the commodification of Junkanoo and the traditionalists who express nostalgic sentiments for the simp ler, purer costumes and practices of the past. The Junkanoo festival descend ed directly from Bahamian slaves and the masquerading and dancing traditions typically associated with Junkanoo most likely originated from a variety of West African festival s The exact origins of Junkanoo remain unknown, although the planting festival. Additionally, the ann ual Egungun festival that occurs today in Yoruba resemb les the practice of Junkanoo. The Yoruba people celebrate the collective spirit of the ancestors by masquerading in elaborate costumes, similar to the types of costumes worn by early Junkanoo performers 20 A masqueraded dance known as Kanoo, performed by the Bam bari tribe during their first fruit ceremony, may also have influenced the development of Junkanoo in the Bahamas. 21 Regardless of its exact origins, Junkanoo is one of many s imilar masquerading 18 Univ ersity of Georgia, 1985), 15 The Sociology of Slavery (1969). 19 Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Department of Archives and Ministry of Education, Public Records Office, Archives Section, Aspects of Bahamian History: Loyalis ts, Slavery, and Emancipation, Junkanoo, Nassau, 1991,


12 festivals that dev eloped throughout the Caribbean. 22 P articul arly in Jamaica, Bermuda, and Trinidad, the slaves blended their African heritage with Creole customs British folklore, and plantation culture to create a unique set of traditions. 23 During the pre emancipation period of the early nineteenth century, the festival began to revolve aroun d Christmas as several laws came into effect that mandated a three day holiday be given to all slaves from December 24 to 26. 24 During the Christmas holiday, slaves congregated freely with their families and friends and celeb rated their momentary freedom with music, dance, and masquerading. In the evenings, the slaves held large dances that culminated with costumed processions of both men and women dressed in straw costumes, ox horn headdresses, and large masks. 25 The Decembe r 26 1811 diary entry of the Methodist missionary Reverend W. Dawson provides historians with the earliest reference of the Junkanoo tradition As the R everend t 26 In itially Junkanoo functioned as a form of slave entertainment but later developed into an 33. bari tribe and Junkanoo was 22 Wisd and the festival was originally referred to as John Canoe. A name of unknown origins, John Canoe may stem from the West African commander John Connu ( commonly spelled as Kon ny, Conny, Kounie, and Koni) or Kooner of the Brandenburg trading fort in Axim on the Gold Coast. The Bahamian Junkanoo celebrations could have been in honor of John Connu who was considered a hero among the slaves. Additionally, the also be derived from the combination of two words commonly used by the Quoja tribe of West Africa. The Quoja use the word being. See Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, 8 9 Bahamian schol ar Judith Bettelheim takes a different viewpoint and contends that the term Junkanoo John W. Nunley and Judith Bettelheim, Caribbean Festival Ar ts: Each and Every Bit of Difference (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988), 71. 23 23. 24 Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Ministry of Education and Culture, Public Records Office, Archives Section, Bookl et of the Archives Exhibition held at the Art Gallery, Jumbley Village, 13 February 3 March 1978 Nassau, 1978, 4 6. In 1815, the Regulations for the Government of Slaves Article first permitted the three day holiday and in 1830 the slave holiday became an actual law stated by Act XXVIII. 25 26 Ministry of Education and Culture, 2.


13 oppositional movement against th e racial inequality present in the British colony. 27 Following the emancipation of the slaves in 1834, strict racial segregation divided the New Providence Island neighborhoods. No netheless, the political and social barriers created by segregation did not stop black Bahamians from displaying their new independence. 28 Rather than performing inconspicuously in the largest black settlement ess district and tourist center 29 The phrase Nassau Guardian in 1881, became syn onymous with the early Junkanoo practices and overall, came to signify the racial obstacles endured by the majority of black Bahamians. 30 During the nineteenth century and continuing into the twentieth century, black Bahamians received a sub standard educ ation from the inadequate public school system, were excluded from jury selections by literacy requirements, and occupied only a few of the seats in the Home Office, the single elective body in the Bahamas. 31 During the 1890s, black Bahamians used the Junk anoo parade s as a vehicle for social activism, merging the processions with public protests that demanded equality between black Bahamians and the ruling white class. As Junkanoo continued to develop and gain prominence, the public celebrations and protes ts became even more extravagant and, in 1899, caused the government to restrict the frequency and time length of the parade s with the Street Nuisance Prohibition Act. 32 Despite the limitations 27 28 : A Traditi onal F estival of Music Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society 17 (October 1995): 13. 29 Thompson, An Eye for the Tr opics 147. Today, the parade still occurs on Bay Street while the majority of the costumes remain constructed in abandon ed warehouses located on the western and southern portions of the island. Bay Street is a fundamental part of Junkanoo parade to a more tourist friendly locale, Junkanoo remains on Bay Street to this today. 30 33 31 Whittington B. Johnson, Post Emancipation Race Relations in The Bahamas (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2006), 137 39. 32 The Street Nuisance Prohibition Act dictated that the parade coul d only occur on Christmas 34 Although the Junkanoo performances always took place at night, the celebratio ns before the Street Nuisance Act occurred at random throughout the latter half of the month of December. The parades did not have a uniform starting or ending time, nor did they occur on the same evenings year after year.


14 enforced by the Street Nuisance Act, Junkanoo became a permanen t fixture on Bay Street with choreographed dancers and sophisticated costumes. By the 1920s the Bahamian Development Board realized the potential profitability of Junkanoo and began commercializing the parade s as a source of entertainment for tourists. 33 Even at this time, the tourism industry wielded substantial influence over Junkanoo. Pandering to the tourists parade, the Development Board in 1935 negotiated the official re scheduling of Junkanoo to a 34 The Development Board achieved this arrangement only by offering to the Junkanoo performers cash prizes for the most original and most impressive costumes. 35 The manner of awarding cash pr izes actually began the previous year in an attempt to improve the visual quality of the costumes. The Development Board aimed overall for the parade s to better correspond with the charming, touristic image of Nassau that they intended to promote. After nearly a century of failed effor ts to build a strong agricultural system in the Bahamas, the British colony had finally found its niche in tourism and was eager to 36 I n 1937 the Nas sau With the restrictions put in to place by the Street Nuisance Act, the parades tapered off into two events: the 33 Public Records Office Aspects of Bahamian History 35. The Development Board was a state agency responsible for manag ing and expanding industry in t he Bahamas. The Board focused its energies primarily on encouraging foreign investment and developing tourism. Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics, 147 49. Black culture and music began to make an appearance in the entertainm ent industry during the 1920s and Bahamian tourism promoters may have been influenced to transform Junkanoo into a marketable product after Bahamian dancer Paul Meeres appeared in Paris and Bahamian musicians and dancers starred on Broadway in the product ion of The Great Day By the 1930s, the Development Board began encouraging hotels and clubs to feature native Bahamian entertainment goombay dancers, conche shell blowers, and players of native instruments which signaled an acceptance of black culture fo r the service of tourism. 34 Public Records Office preface; Nunley and Bettelheim, Caribbean Festival Arts 75; and Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics, performances still occurred in the early morning hours of 26 December. In 1938, the Bahamian government declared 26 December a national holiday services 43. 35 Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics, 36 Ibid., the cr uise ship passengers from the ships which were in port that day and the fact that several of our distinguished visitors acted as judges of the costumes added to their general interest. It is hoped that this quaint and picturesque custom may be made increa


15 Guardian clearly conveyed the intentions of the Deve he object of offering prizes is to encourage more and better costumes to be worn in the parade, which will 37 The Development B onetary incentives by intensifying the already strong competitive drive among participants and inaugurating an acute desire among performers spectators and government officials fo r elaborate, innovative costumes. 38 As throughout the twentieth century the Junkanoo festival increased in size and popu larity the Bahamian government took greater control over the parade s In 1933, t he Development Board created the Masquerade Committe e to assume all administration and funding responsibilities of the parade s By the 194 0s the Committee began establishing rules and regulations meant to instill order over the parade s 39 Although Junkanoo was an establis hed Christmas ay event, the middle and upper class Bahamians (both black and white) did not accept the parade s but merely tolerated them rest ructuring of Junkanoo the majority of festival participants included out of work alcoholics, ex convict s, and other social delinquents whose lack of steady work granted them the leisure time to const ruct the costumes. Most middle and upper class Bahamians considered the unruly l organization, to indicate 40 the Committee disallowed the practice of non costumed participation and introduced metal barriers to separate performers from spectator s. Before the use of metal barriers and other regulatory efforts, spectators would spontaneously join the performance and participate in chicken between two groups of performers. 41 The 37 Nunley and Bettleheim, Caribbean Festival Arts, 75. 38 The element of competition remains significant to contemporary Junkanoo practices and originated from the strong rivalry that d eveloped among black settlements. Following emancipation, each neighborhood or district developed a distinct exclusive community that often transgressed into violent, the gangs turned Junkanoo i nto an aggressive contest and used the costumes and the corresponding prize money as a vehicle for asserting their s overeignty over rivaled groups. 39 50. 40 Ibid., 41 42. 41 Ibid., 47 50. Originally, the Junkanoo part icipants and spectators found the metal barriers so intrusive that they negotiated a compromise with the Masquerade Committee that limited the enforcement of barriers to periods of


16 spontaneity of Junkanoo occasionally e scalated into mild violent outbursts that substantiated the parade s negative reputation. 42 To improve the marketability of Junkanoo, the Masquerade Committee spent several decades re structuring Junkanoo as a safe, wholesome experience for families and to urists. 43 The Masquerade Committee presided over Junkanoo until 1982 when the government created the National Junkanoo Committee, an organization comprised of artists, festival leaders, and government officials responsible for overseeing all Junkanoo acti vities. The creation of the National Junkanoo Committee satisfied the surmounting complaints that Junkanoo artists and performers were excluded from important decisions concerning the administration and future direction of Junkanoo. 44 A division of the Mi nistry of Youth, Sports, and Culture, the National Junkanoo Committee continues today to administer the parade s Throughout the next three decades, the National Junkanoo Committee further standardized the event by instigating a variety of n ew measures, wh ich included introducing bleachers, permitting food and beverage vendors requiring all groups to submit a written registration, and mandating that all identification banners and numbers remain visible throughout the entire duration of the parade. 45 Despit e the establishment of a more inclusive organization to preside over Junkanoo, several Bahamians have insist ed that the institutionalization of the festival abolishes several of judging. Once the judges finished evaluating the costumes, the police remo ved the barriers and the spectators were free to join the parade. 42 45. By 1944, after experiencing a full blown riot in 1942 and an increasing level Bahamian government officially banned the Junkanoo parade until 1947. 43 Ibid., 49 51. During the 1960s, the Masquerade Committee became under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism. The restructuring and ordering of Junkanoo during this time acco objectives. For example, the introduction of uniformed police in the early 1960s, charged with the task of walking along the parade routes with the masqueraders during the performance, was meant to convey to the tourists a sense of security. To further promote a safe environment, the Committee disallowed potentially dangerous activities such as the shooting off of fireworks and the heating of goat skin drums with fire. 44 Ibid., 50. 45 Ibid., 53 55. Another significa nt regulation imposed on Junkanoo is the enforcement of a two lap circular route which compensates for the extremely large costu mes and more importantly, allow s the judges ample viewing time and space to review the costumes. See Ferguson, I Come to Get Me !, 16. The new route completely eradicated the Clement Bethel fic, one no longer hears the interesting clash of contrasting rhythms which used to occur when one band passed another goin g in Junkanoo, 86.


17 its essential qualities. These individuals are indeed nostalgic for the simpl er parades of the past when Junkanoo participants exercised more freedom during performances. One citizen expressed t his sentiment to the Nassau Guardian by stating which started out as a form of recreation for ma ny Bahamians, a form of cultural advancement of the Bahamian people, has been taken over by a government agency and the people find that 46 The sense of lost personal autonomy dimensions of nostalgia and, moreover, reveals the nostalgic attitudes circulating in the Bahamas. According to Bahamian scholar Lisa Carol Dea n, e the festival altogether, have transform ed the celebration into a spectator sport in which Junkanoo loses its spontaneity, sense of community, and power as a resistance movement. 47 ment with Junkanoo since the 192 0s the festival maintains several key components, such as the use of shredded strips of cr p e paper in costume construction the choreographed marching step, and the competitive rivalry between neighborhoods, all of which help establish the cultural event a s an identifiable Bahamian product. 48 The government then uses the ir constructed image of Junkanoo to their advantage by to the Bahamas. G overnment offi cials in Trinidad use Carnival in a similar way producing an objectified national culture that Trinidadian scholar Philip Scher argues an be controlled, coordinated, marketed in short, easily manipulated for presentation on a global scale. 49 The Tri nidad state 46 arnival at Sport The Nassau Guardian, October parade from Bay Street to the Q ueen Elizabeth Sports Centre. 47 48 Wisdo Junkanoo, 84. Specifically, the rules and regulations imposed on Junkanoo by the government during the 1930s until the 1960s ensured the continuation of certain components. For example, the allotment of pri ze money fostered the strong competitive spirit and sense of rivalry that originally stemmed from the self imposed ethnic and tribal segregation of black neighborhoods. Additionally, the use of crpe paper has been preserved since, at one point early in t only fringe costumes to be eligible for prizes. This last point will be discussed further later in this chapter. 49 Philip Scher, Carnival and the Formation of a Caribbean Transnation (Gainesville: Universit y Press of Florida, 2003), 130.


18 recognizes the complex relationship between nationalism, culture, and economics and accordingly employs a strategy of commodification that links all three factors together. By positioning itself as the logical administer and protector of natio nal culture, the state gains the authority to manipulate the image of Carnival for economic purposes. Thus, Trinidad is capable of simultaneously legitimizing its sovereignty while building a new tourism base by exporting a controlled version of Carnival to such events as the French bicentennial, the Olympic Games in Barcelona, and the World Cup in the United States. 50 I find that the Bahamian government follows a similar commodification strategy. During the last two decades the government has exported Junkanoo throughout the United States and Europe, showcasing Junkanoo performances at the Miami Super Bowl, the Smithsonian Institute (Fig. 5) 51 Th e following was the Nassau Guardian response to the C o host Dianne Sawyer commented on the excitement that was being generated around them, providing the Ministry of Tourism conceivably with hundreds of thousands of do llars of free publicity Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of what it takes to get The Bahamas back in full gear as one of the world's favourite destinations. 52 Similarly, after their performances held in the UK, th e same newspaper reported: ave yet to visit. It is a point tourism industry. 53 50 Scher, Carnival and the Formation of a Caribbean Transnation 130 32. The development of cultural exports includes maintaining that products viability e which marketable elements of Carnival were worth preserving and cultivating in the name of the service industry. The discussions determined t rele features that should be preserved in order to continue the success of the Carnival product abroad. 51 According to the Nassau Guardian, Junkanoo performers appeared at the Super Bowl i n 1995, the Smithsonian in 1998, New York in 2004, and England in 2008. However, these performances exclude the controversial scrapper scrapper refers to individual or small groups of performers who dress in simple, non uniform costumes and parade for pure enjoyment rather than for prize money 52 The Nassau Guardian November 12, 2004. 53 Inderia Saunders The Nassau Guardian April 15, 2008.


19 These statements indicate that Bahamians have come generally to accept the use of Jun kanoo as a promotiona l device through Junkanoo experience for touristic purposes. demonstrates how Junkanoo has been commodified in t he service of tourism. The One advertisement from 2004 specifically represents the func tion of Junkanoo as a permissive getaway for white tourists (Fig. 6 ) The advertis ement describes the tourist Christine as a former wallflower, who is liberated by the inhibiti on free environment of Junkanoo, her life, thereby, forever transformed by the authentic sounds and sights of the Bahamas. Although supported and produced locall conventional cultural distinction between the Self and the Other, depicting their own Junkanoo costumes and performers as exotic count erparts to the white Europeans and Euro Americans. No longer signifying a force of resistance to colonial oppression or racial inequality, the Junkanoo experiences of the parade s as a source of entertainment for touris ts. also has become a popular device for selling local merchandise and other commodities. The Bahamian national beer, Kalik, seafood restaurants, and the Miss Junka noo Beauty Pageant all refer to or appropriate Junkanoo in order to sell their product s (Fig. 7 ) Even Bahamian currency features Junkanoo imagery and the five dollar bill proudly display s the iconic Junkanoo pe rformer with his colorful cr pe paper costume and goat skin drum (Fig. 8) 54 The changes experienced by Junkanoo generate a wave of controversy because not all Bahamians support the commodification of the festival. One angry reporter for the Nassau Guardian wrote in 2006, go to great lengths to influence others that Junkanoo is all about Bahamian culture and tradition when in fact it is not. When it is all said and done, for the people who are in control of what happens, Junkanoo is about materialism, money, pure and simple 55 54 55 The Nassau Guardian, January 12, 2006.


20 The Junkanoo Costumes The institutionalization and commodification of the festival in the service of tourism has in particular impacted the style of the Junkanoo costumes Before tourism became the principal industry in the Bahamas, the Bahamian people first as slaves and then as emancipated citizens depended for their livelihood constructed simple costumes from everyday materials such as banana leaves, newspapers, and burlap sacks (Fig. 9) 56 Europeans and Americans first began traveling to t he Bahamas in the 1850s but with the advent of Prohibition in the United States starting in 1919, tourism soared as Americans flocked to the Caribbean for legal alcohol. 57 The rise in tourism generated an economic boom in the Bahamas which enabled Junkanoo artists to create increasingly sophisticated costumes. At this time, Junkanoo participants began incorporating fringed paper, cloth, and wire into their costume designs (Fig. 10) 58 The Masquerade Comm ittee found the vibrancy of the fringed, colored cr pe paper comple mentary to the picturesque image of Nassau that they intended to market and in an effort to promote the use of crpe paper, the Committee allowed only fringe costumes to be eligible for aw ards. Not surprising ly fringe paper became the staple for costume decoration and quickly replaced sponge, newspaper, and sacking costumes (Fig. 11) 59 To remain competitive, artists abandoned tradit ional costume materials and bega n using aluminum rods, ca rdboard, and Styrofoam. The more sophisticated materials enabled artists to incorporate larger structures into costume design, thus developing the enormous shoulder pieces, headdresses, skirts, and wings characteristic of contemporary Junkanoo costumes (F ig. 12) 60 56 Wisdom, 54. Unlike the other Caribbean islands, the Bahamas is covered with a thin topsoil of limestone which makes it difficult to sustain a large agricultural system. See Stratchan, Paradise and Plantation 94. Although agriculture never prospere d in the Bahamas, the short lived but lucrative sponge industry caused a sponge surplus and Junkanoo artists used sponges in their costumes for several years. 57 Strachan, Paradise and Plantation 95. 58 Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, 9 11 31, 38, 41. 59 60 Ibid., 49; and Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, 16. Another significant contribution to the stylistic development of the costumes was the government sponsored trips for artists to witness trip in 1983 and soon thereafter integrated Carnival engineering into their costume design. Inspired b floats, Cooper and Francis began creating enormous, three dimensional lead costumes that Junkanoo performers


21 Just as the materiality of the costumes has reflected the socio economic conditi ons of the Bahamas, the costume s iconography also has responded fluidly to external political and social factors. During the mid nineteenth century, many Junkanoo costumes depicted Poseidon and Amphitrite and the presence of these Greek mythological characters indicated the blending of Western folklore with the masquerading practices of disaporic Africans. 61 As racial tensions worsened in Nassau during the late ni neteenth an d early twentieth centuries, satire became a key element in the costumes and several Junkanooers parodied white Bahamians, policemen, and Englishmen. To further defy the remnants of colonial rule, the male performers would paint their faces wh ite and wear puffy pantaloons or dress as high fashioned Parisian women (Fig. 13) 62 Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States has remained an important reference point and cultural signifier for the Junkanoo performers. Cos tumes during World War II displayed U.S military equipment such as tanks, battleships, and anti air craft guns. During the 1950s, the costumes featured Disney characters li ke Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. In recent years, Junkanooers have proudly display ed their favorite NFL or college f ootball teams (Fig. 14) 63 The 2009 theme of the Saxon Superstars, than life portrait of the president elect whi le hundreds of musicians donned red, whi te, and blue costumes (Fig. 15). The Saxon Superstars theme not only demonstrates the influential power of the United States, first black p nd either rolled or carried. See Nunley and Bettelheim, Festival Arts 76 Today, all major Junkanoo groups incorporate lead costumes th performance. Since Junkanoo officials and enthusiasts are sensitive to the growing criticism that the lead costumes resemble Trinidadian floats, regulatory measures have been taken to ensure that the lead costumes maintain their encompass more than six wheels. 61 30 31. Furthermore the Bahamians in choosing to portray Poseidon and Amphr itrite also demonstrate the significance of the ocean in their daily lives. The only industry to flourish in the Bahamas during this time was fishing and the inhabitants depended heavily on the oce an for their livelihood. 62 Nunley and Bettelheim, Caribbean Festival Arts, 72 73. 63 Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, demonstrated by the abundance of references to the Univer


22 racial struggles. As demonstrated by the heavily ornate costumes worn by the Saxon Superstars in 2009, the use of decorative materials, such as beads, sequin s, rh inestones, and feathers, is now an important feature of Junkanoo (Fig. 16 ) Several Bahamians find this trend upsetting and insist that the costumes are becoming too carnivalesque and, in a sense, losing their Bahamian spirit. 64 As demonstrated by one nost algic reporter for the Tribune who insisted this fake, this garbage that they misrepresent as Junkanoo decorative materials challenges the perceived authenticity of the traditional fringe paper cost ume. 65 eligible costumes has inevitably ensured the preservation of the fringe costume, and its longevity throughout the years has resulted in a wide spread perception of the fringe costume as the supreme, auth entic Junkanoo costume. Contemporary parade judges and group leaders have show n considerable preference for costumes adorned in decorative materials and the trend shows no sign of disappearing. The stylistic development of the costumes is intrinsicall financial support of Junkanoo, which extends beyond providing cash prizes and actually includes funding large Junkanoo groups. Referred to as groupers and typically supporting between four and six hundred members, the Junkan oo group er s are organized teams of individual artists, dancers, and collaborators. Groupers compete with each other for the highly coveted prize money, and accordingly, spend months constructing sophisticated costumes and rehearsing choreographed ensemble s. 66 The first official Junkanoo group appeared in 1954 as the 64 The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Bahamas Independence and Beyond Nassau, Jones Publication, 93. 65 Dale A The Tribune February 1, 1997. 66 Wisdom, 45, 53, 62. Although membership to Junkanoo groups is entirely unrestricted, the organizations require an extensive amount of time and dedication from its members. The two largest and most popular groups today are the Valley Boys and the Saxon S uperstars. Other prominent groups active today are the Music Makers, the Vikings, One Family, and the PIGS. Costume production is an important inclusive communal activity that unites neighborhoods and promotes a strong sense of community. Originally, o ne leader presided over a Junkanoo group, but today committees of leaders manage group activities. The design process begins with the process begins w ith building the frames, deciding color schemes, and working out the logistics of mobility. After the framework is completed, the shack opens and the support staff and the remaining group members ass ist in the application of cr pe paper, decorative materi als, and paint. Costume production mainly occurs at night, a tradition that most like ly originated from the Bahamian s slave ancestors who constructed their costumes in secrecy or during the only allocated free time. Production occurs at night for practi cal reasons as well since most of the group members have full time jobs, families, and other obligations. See Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, 20, 24 30, 41 46.


23 sformed the nature of the festival by instituting choreographed dancers and themed, uniform costumes. 67 Throughout the 1960s and 1970s groupers gained more prominence and recognition, which perpetuated a distinct dichotomy between the organized masqueraders and the individual performers and small groups referred to as Dressed in simpl e, non uniform costumes, these scrappers do not compete for prize money, but instead parade for pure enjoyment (Fig. 17). 68 Joining scrap groups enables Bahamians the opportunity to participate in the parade without committing to the extensive schedule as mandated by the Junkanoo groupers. Government funding supports many of the groupers by partially supplementing the high cost of costume production. However, a s costumes become more elaborate and expensive to produce, with lead costumes costing on average $60,000, outside funding becomes essential, and many Junkanoo groups a ctively seek corporate sponsorship in addition to government funding. 69 Corporate sponsors that contribute and supplement the high cost are recognized by the strategic or logo Fig. 18). Conversely, scrappers receive very little government and corporate sponsorship which accounts for their simpler costumes and fewer members. 70 s in the same manner, the i magery chosen by scrapper groups differs considerably from the themes 2009, scrappers typically portray politically overt themes, depicting localized controversies and pressing political social issues. On the other hand, the grou safe featured a stuffed dummy hanging from a noose and a panel boar 67 Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, 14 15. In 1965, t he Vikings a ppeared and introduced l arge cardboard costumes decorated with cut paper that quickly became the standard for costume construction. 68 19. During the 1970s and 1980s, many group members and parade officials considered scrappers a nuisance and an un desirable feature of Junkanoo. At one point, scrappers were considered dangerous because of their gang associations and parade officials attempted to prohibit the inclusion of scrappers in the parade. Scrappers persevered nonetheless and today represent the traditional and individu alistic qualities of Junkanoo 69 Wisd 59; and Ferguson, I Come to Get Me !, 20. 70 Mornette Curtis, interview by author, Nassau, The Bahamas, January 1, 2009.


24 thod of corporal punishment, which explicit ly support 71 Another scrapper group d emonstrated the livelihood of the tourism industry Their vests sporting the text, proclaimed the Baha income and their demand for a 20% standard (Fig. 20). In contrast, large, successful Junkanoo groupers shun away from divisive political or social snow monster, snow flake dancers, an d a snow mobile costume (Figs. 16 and 21). Addit ionally, t he group depicted costumes with highly ornate butterflies, flamingoes, and eagles meant to entertain and bedazzle spectators (Fig. 22) 72 The disparate amount of corporate sponsorship and government fund ing received between groupers and scrappers plays a significant role in determining the level of political and social activism augmented by the costumes. Since the scrappers do not depend so much on outsi de funding, scrap members exercise more freedom in choosing costume themes Junkanoo group er s on the contrary, rely heavily on government and corporate funding and li terally cannot afford to upset their sponsors with controversial themes. Nevertheless, corporate sponsorship still affects both scrappers and groupers in that all Junkanoo groups, regardless of status and size, 73 Banners dedicated to Shell Oil prominently adorn the lead costumes for several Junkanoo gr oupers while smaller and local corporations, such as A.G. Electric Company and SoBe Adrenaline Rush Energy Drink, appear on scrapper and smaller Jun 18 and 23 ) Although the commercialization of Junka noo now greatly impacts t he costume s iconography and materiality, its traditional ephemeral nat ure has been completely overturned. Originally, Junkanoo performers simply discarded their costumes immediately following the parade s u mes at the city dump (Figs. 4 and 24 ) The partially attributed to pure exhaustion 71 Curtis, interview. 72 Although the im ages portrayed by Junkanoo groups do not overtly signify specific political controversies, the extravagance and sheer size of these costumes do constitute a discursive political social affiliation in that government and community support enables the liveli hood of these large groups. 73 Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!, 21.


25 After eight hours of c ontinuous dancing and parading the participants preferred to abandon their costumes on the side of the street rather than transport the heavy apparel back to their shacks. By the early morning hours, many of the costumes were severely damaged and in any case, the lack of st orage space on the island limited the ability to preserve the surviving items. 74 [the costumes] are no longer meaningful outside their communal creati on and their public performance The abandonment and immediate destruction of the costumes became a part of the c as some Junkanooers describe the artistic process of 75 Although several of the Junkanoo artists that I spoke with found this explanation misleading, the Junkanoo participants an d spectators nevertheless demand that each performance out shine the previous one Thus the re use of old costumes would contradict the inherent competitive and innovative spirit of Junkanoo. 76 As Angelique McKay maintains the costumes become less imp ort ant after the parade s because 77 ediately following the parade s has in recent years declined significantly as the costumes have become increasingly more extr avagant, expensive, and time consuming to construct. As Junkanoo artists have transition ed away from disposable and economical materials to use instead aluminum rods and plastic feathers with each feather costing between $12 and $15 the costumes have beco m e too expensive to throw away (Fig. 25). Many Junkanoo artists recycle the expensive and resilient materials by 78 Artist s are further discouraged from destroying their costumes because additiona l opportunities now arise throughout the year to 74 Angelique McKay, interview by author, telephone conversation, February 26, 2008. 75 Museum Frictions: Public Cultures and Global Transf ormations, ed. Ivan Karp, Corinne A. Kratz, Lynn Szwanja, and Tomas Ybarra Frausto (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006) 300 03. 76 I questioned Jackson Burnside, leader of One Family and former leader of the Saxon Superstars, Stanley Burnside, former dire ctor of the National Junkanoo Museum, Angelique McKay, current manager of the National no significance or deeper meaning as alluded to by Thompson. 77 McKay, interview. 78 Ibid.


26 reuse the costumes in smaller events, such as the Junkanoo in June parade and the Junior Junkanoo parade (Fig. 26) T o generate publicity and excitement for the Christmas and New oups showcase their costumes abroad and perform on a smaller scale at local schools and hotels 79 Despite the rampant insistence on the part of some, commodification of Junkanoo diminishes the parade s Bahamian qualities, several J unkanoo artists, community leaders, and cultural brokers completely endorse the use of Junkanoo for tourism. When questioned about the possibility of ope ning a Junkanoo m useum in 1988, the at the possibilities, but only at their restraints I magine the self respect and esteem that displayed Junkanoo pieces would 80 D Bahamian historian Victoria Sar ne corroborates this latter view : The other voice says that there are all kinds of economic and business opportunities being are global opportunities for the groups t o travel and showcase the essence and the culture of the Bahamas. There are myriad opportunities at home to market and promote Junkanoo as a specific and distinct tourist a tt raction to this destination. A partnership or an alliance between individual gro ups, the hospitality industry and the Ministry of Tourism could provide a mutually beneficial strategy and outcome. 81 Taking into account the tremendous amount of time, resources, a nd planning that accompanies this voluntary art form several Junkanoo arti sts and group leaders wish to earn some sort of income from it Within the Junkanoo groups, a large movement is currently underway to explore the means for turning Junkanoo into a profitable business for group members, and the coalition of Junkanoo with t he tourism industry is gaining widespread support as the best opportunity for achieving their economic goals. 82 79 Curtis, interview. 80 Alexa Harris The Nassau Guardian March 28, 2008. 81 Economic Perspective Junkanoo Symposium, Nassau, The Bahamas, March 2002 ) 82 Jackson Burnside, interview by author, Nassau, The Bahamas, January 2, 2009.


27 CHAPTER THREE THE NATIO NAL JUNKANOO MUSEUM During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the leader of the Saxon Superstars and renowned Junkanoo activist and artist, Stan Burnside publically campaigned for the establishment of a museum to exhibit the Junkanoo costumes. Finally in 1992, s hortly b efore the annual Boxing Day parade, Burnside persuaded his friend Algernon Allen, the newly appointed m inister for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, to allow Junkanoo groups access to an old, dilapidated warehouse located just blocks from the parade route. Minister Allen agreed to the request only because Burnside led the Minister to believe that the warehouse would serve as a temporary storage facility for the costumes. However, the artist considered this arrangement the perfect opportunity to final ly actualize his museum concept and he intended to transform the space into a permanent expo for t he Junkanoo costumes. The artist intentionally timed his request to artists could work freely without any interference from the Ministry. 83 The warehouse origi nally held unused government furniture that Minister Allen promised Burnsid arrival. N onetheless when Burnside and his team finally gained access to the building on Christmas Eve, the entire space remained filled w ith office chairs, desks, and filing cabinets pilled high to the ceiling. With the help of a group Day scrambling to remove the furniture. Unfortunately, most of the J unkanoo groups did not take the project seriously, and only the Valley Boys and a few other groups actually brought their used costumes to the warehouse following the Boxing Day parade. Despite the lack of support am worked feverishly for the next several weeks to prepare the warehouse for the Junkanoo costumes. Upon touring the converted warehouse, Minister Allen quickly became supportive of the museum concept. No doubt realizing the y, the Ministry agreed to oversee and fund the venture and appointed first manager. After a series of minor renovations, the museum 83 Stan Burnside, telep hone interview with author, 10 Mar ch 2008


28 officially opened in 1993 as the Junkanoo Expo, becoming the first institution to exhibit the cost umes outside their performative context (Fig. 27 ) 84 This chapter analyzes the history and policies of the National Junkanoo Museum within the context of other Caribbean museums. Similar to cultural institutions throughout the Caribbean, the National Junk anoo Museum defines and substantiates the heritage of its people by exhibiting certain objects as representative of a a common expectation of those postcolonial museums that attempt to reject colonial histories in order to construct a new national and cultural identity. manager, Stan Burnside, the museum originally intended to dignify the Bahamian artist and their craft. 85 However, the museum recently has become entrenched program, which severely alters the ir original mission I argue that the expanded mission of the depreciates the very nationalistic goals the museum originally intended to accomplish. European philanthropists in collaboration with colonial governments established the first museums in the Caribbean beginning in the mid nineteenth century. 86 Residing as subsidiary spaces within the pub lic libraries, these early Caribbean museums functioned as natural history museums and were charged with the overwhelming task of categorizing and exhibiting the plethora of ethnographic artifacts and scientific specimens indigenous to the Caribbean. 87 Mus inhabitants of the colony and assist the recently emancipated populations achieve self sufficiency through education. In reality, the majority of the freed slaves bene fitted little from the se early 79 Stan Burnside, interview. 85 Ibid. 86 Alissandra of the West In D evelopment of n Role of Objects in National Identity, ed. Flora E.S. Kaplan (London: Leicester University Press, 1994 ), 196 99. The governor of Bermuda, Sir William Reid (1839 1846), created legislation in 1843 that founded the first public museum in the Caribbean. Bet ween 1847 and 1848, he established public libraries and museums in St. Lucia, the Bahamas, Barbados, and Grenada. 87 Ibid., 196. During the nineteenth century, the strong correlation between scientific discovery and imperial expansion lead many colonies to create special interest, local societies dedicated to natural and industrial sciences. These local societies organized large the Great Exhibition of 1851 that influenced ot her national exhibitions in British Guiana, Trinidad, and Jamaica. The success of these exhibitions contributed to the formation of national collections that further augmented the development of Caribbean museums.


29 museums, which were designed to meet the commercial and agricultural needs of the colonizers. 88 By displaying impressive collections of natural resources, the museums attempted to demonstrate the wealth of the colony and enco urage investments in local industry. However, by the 1950s the symbiotic relationship between tourism and the heritage industry stimulated new interests in archeological fieldwork and the preservation of historical sites. Although the heritage industry b rought awareness to the preservation needs of the Caribbean, the museums largely excluded African and other non Eur opean experiences, selecting to preserve only colonial style architecture and exhibit Amerindian artifacts that held no significance to local populations. 89 During the 1960s and 1970s, several Caribbean nations including the Bahamas gained independence from Great Britain. Subsequently, government officials stressed the importance of developing a cultural heritage and national pride unsullied by colonial dependency. In the political community, museums gained credibility as important instruments for fostering a new national and cultural identity. According to an independent consulting firm hired to evaluate Caribbean museums, an emphasis on c of pride, self esteem and national identity that will help the people of developing nations overcome the debilitating sense of cultural inferiority and dependency induced by colonialism and slaver 90 Furthermore, cultural brokers felt that a cohesive and unified Caribbean heritage would benefit the development of national identity; thus, the Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA) and the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM) were established to imp rove the quality of Caribbean museums. Under the leadership of Dr. Raymond Singleton, a consultant for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the two groups conducted a number of studies throughout the 1970s and 19 80s on the state of Caribbean museums. Collectively, the studies reported that the majority of the museums were 88 o f the West In transportation prevented the majority of freed slaves from visiting the museums (a problem the National Junkanoo Museum still struggles with today). Low literacy rates also contributed t o their disinterest in the museums, which 89 Ibid., 19 9, 204 05. The almost complete eradication of Amerindians during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by early colonize rs severed any cultural or ancestral link to these native populations, resulting in diminished emotional ties to these surfaced artifacts from a colonial viewpoint in which preservationists were seen primarily as an expatriate element seeking to cling to 90 Ibid., 216. Edward Towel and George Tyson from the Island Resources Foundation conducted the study in 1979.


30 poorly organized, understaffed, and insufficiently funded, and needed professionally trained museum staff. To improve the professional standar ds of Caribbean museums, CARICOM in 1979, organized a workshop on museums, monuments, and si tes. Also intended to stimulate initiative in the Caribbean to train profession al curatorial and technical staff. 91 Additionally, the CAA and CARICOM recommended that Caribbean museums should develop closer working relationships with each other and, moreover, link their institutions with the tourism industry. 92 s reports recognized the importance of the tourism industry, he also virtue should therefore be made of diversity, encouraging each museum to develop its own highly individual chara cter [E] ach museum should be strongly community orientated, reflecting not only the complete history, but also 93 In e entire population. As a c ase in point, in 1980, the Barbados Museum addressed their deficient representation of local communities by allocating more exhibition space to the lives of slaves, plantation laborers, and peasant farmers. 94 To further augment the professional standards of Caribbean museums, the Museum Associations of the Caribbean (MAC) was created in 1989 to develop training and regional conservation centers and encourage government participation in museums. MAC continues today to be an activ e organization that supports and assists Caribbean museums. 95 91 of the West In 10. 92 Ibid., 207 08, 209 11. Although each report conducted by CAA and CARICOM urged museums to develop cultural tourism programs, the majority of these institutions failed to incorporate the tourism industry into their practice. In compari son to departments of education, health, and tourism, governments often grant Caribbean museums the smallest budgets, severely limiting their ability to implement any type of changes. 93 Ibid., 220. 94 Ibid., 213 16. more exposure to previously unrepresented groups, the website features photos of a bugle, cricket paddle, and a bicycle, certainly items that plantation workers or peasant ent&task=view&id=38& Itemid=53. 95 Ibid., 216.


31 The Junkanoo Expo and the Formation of a National Identity It was the costumes increasing level of extravagance and complexity, during the 1980s that compelled Burnside and other artists to begin to cam paign for the establishment of a national museum to showcase and preserve the costumes. An editorial opinion submitted to the Nassau Guardian in 1988 argued we need a Museum, so that we can put our talented Bahamian es months of hard work, long, long hours to prepare those costumes. It hurts to see that after the Junkanoo celebrations some of the costumes are 96 The article suggested that beyond recognizing the Bahamian artist, showcasing the costumes wou ld benefit tourists as well by providing visitors with the opportunity to view the costumes throughout the year. 97 As well, apprehension that younger generations might eventually lose interest in the festival, resulting in the disappearance of the Junkanoo tradition. The Nassau Guardian expressed this concern by reminding readers ossibly the saddest part of the parade is the fact that there is no museum or showroom where Bahamians and visitors can view t he winning costumes. The three dimensional costumes should be displayed so that many young people who are interested in 98 new significance as symbols of Bahamian sovereignty and culture. 99 Acting in a similar manner as other newly independent states, the Bahamas strived to subdue the social and cultural effects of colonialism b y denying the contemporary relevance of its colonial past. 100 To articulate a postcolonial, cultural identity that was distinctly Bahamian, the community looked to Junkanoo. e occurrence on Christmas and New Years Lenten Carniva l, makes Junkanoo the ideal signifier for a Bahamian national and cultural identity. Furthermore, 96 The Nassau Guardian, January 15, 1988. 97 Ibid. 98 The Nassau Guardian, January 8, 1988. 99 Stan Burnside, interview. 100 Desp moreover, a simplified version of the cos art of costume


32 nage helped dictate its receptiveness as an accessible cultural product for the government to re appropriate into a national discourse. 101 the art of drumming and co stume making 102 As recorded by the Tribune release of holiday energy, has evolved as the centerpiece of the national culture of the Baham 103 Junkanoo scholar Nicolette Bethel reiterates this understanding of the festival by 104 Henceforth, as part of the national rhetoric of cultural identity, destroying the cost umes no longer seemed appropriate. of Bahamians did not object to the ; a feature which strikingly differs from significance as ephemeral obj ects and should, accordingly, bring about nostalgic responses. u s to feel nostalgia must also reside in the present. to the eff ect that nostalgia tells u s more about present moods than about past 105 In this particular circumstance, a sense of nostalgia does not consume the relevance to or, moreover, would confli ct with contemporary trends that desire for the costumes to become icons of Bahamian 101 Black Music Research Journal 19 (Spring 1999): 74 75. Furthermore, Junkanoo embodies a sense of timelessness reinforced by perfo s groups rush down Bay Street, the music of one group blends into the music of the next, fashion ing the performance and, by extension, Bahamian history, as a long and seamless event. Thus, junkanoo offers a very specific image of the nation, one that is timeless and mythical, spatially bounded, and em 102 Clement Bethel, Junkanoo, 84. As explained in Chapter two, the majority of middle class Bahamians did not 42. Junkanoo gained further acceptance among the majority of Bahamians after popular musicians began to incorporate Junkanoo rhythms, Bahamian painters used the colors and subjects of the parade in their paintings, and scholars, both domestic and international, began researching the origins and themes of the festival. See Clement Bethel, Junkanoo, 84. 103 The Tribune, March 30, 1993. 104 105 Davis, Yearning for Yesterday, 9 10.


33 culture. Since nostalgia serves the interests of the present rather than reflect the realities of the mids t of nationalistic fervor. Instead of permitting the customary disposal of the costumes at the city dump, community leaders and Junkanoo artists significant objects by establishing a national museum. Museum scholar Leslie Witz describes useums as sites for the visual management of the past have become important signifiers 106 Once safeguarded by the Junkanoo Expo, t he presuppos ed qualities of any museum the authoritative transmission of knowledge, public accessibility, and educative purpose enabled the costumes to represent a new Bahamian heritage to replace the outdated truisms of colonialism. As argued by museum scholars Ivan Karp and Corrine A. Katz, museum exhibitions assert a type of authority referred appointed mission as scientific, artistic legitimizes their existence as custodians and c ommanders of world cultures 107 In other words, museums claim the ability and the right to heritage attempt to construct a collective identity, they permit the National Junkanoo Museum to associate national ident ity with material culture. 108 As demonstrated by the opening quote in Chapter one, the perception and defining characteristics of a specific culture are 106 Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations, ed. Ivan Karp, Corrine A. Kratz, Lynn Szwaja, and Tomas Ybarro Fruasto (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 107 08. 107 08. The authors contend that museum exhibits claim two, distinct types of authority: cultural authority and ethnographic authority. Ethnographic metaphors and analogies, patterns of tense, person, voice and address, as well as recurrent scenes dispersed through texts. Together Clif concept of discursive forma tion that he developed in his book The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969) 108 Similarly, national museums in Nigeria are susceptible to the same notions, and they exhibit and preserve material culture to envision collective identity and national goals. As in the Bahamas, Nigerian museums are a twentieth century phenomenon, instituted for the most part after gaining independence and meant to provide tangible evidence of a cultural history that serves as the foundation for a national identity. As of 2005, N igeria maintained forty six national museums which give support to the power of material culture in forming a sense of self awareness and pride. Furthermore, geographer David Lowenthal suggests that in newly independent states, the formation of national identity is contingent upon an awareness of the past which provides a sense of continuity and knowledge of general, Dr. Yaro T. Gela, reinforces this claim by stating, in reference to African political Flora Museums and the Making of ed. Flora E. S. Kaplan (London: Leicester University Press, 1994), 45 46.


34 dependent upon the existence of material history, in which the supposedly embedded within the object have the ability to distinguish a particular group of people Originally, t unique, Bahamian art form in a space large enough to enable intense examination 109 The museum incorporated simple design concepts that included an open floor plan that could display twenty to thirty costumes, a separate smaller area for offices, and a gift shop that sold Bahamian crafts and Junkanoo themed paraphernalia. Black walls and carpeted floors provided the backdrop for the spot lit costumes and d idactic labels identified the Junkanoo group associated with each costume (Figs. 3 and 28) 110 Although Burnside acknowledge d that e xhibiting the costumes conflict e d s ephemeral nature, he remarked on how it is mostly non practitioners, or people unfamiliar with the Junkanoo tradition, [who] insist that the new comm ercialized version of Junkanoo [ supported by the museum and the Ministry] erases the real Junkanoo essen 111 He argued th at the museum instead represented the responsive nature of Junkanoo and signified the enhanced recognition of the artist. 112 Characteristic of other Caribbean museums, funding obstacles constantly plagued the Junkanoo Expo. Securing fi nancial support from the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture, as museum manager 113 The museum could never allocate enough funding for a strong marketing campaig n, and although various tourism websites and brochures briefly mention ed the Expo, the museum remained an ancillary destination for both locals and tourists. 114 Additionally, 109 Stan Burnside, interview. 110 Ibid. After processing through the costume exhibit, visitors encountered a stage at the back of the museum that projected videos of previous parades. Addition ally, the stage enabled museum staff to provide large tour groups with lectures and interactive demonstrations. The museum staff attempted to find ways to better preserve the costumes since, at best, the art forms only last three to four years. Since the costumes are made primarily from cardboard and crpe lacquer finishes to the costumes, the museum lacks the funding and the knowledge to properly im plement more permanent preservation techniques. 111 Ibid. 112 Ibid. 113 Burnside was the manager of the Junkanoo Expo from 1993 until 2003. 114 Sadly, this remains a problem that the National Junkanoo Museum encounters today.


35 converting the old warehouse into a suitable museum space became an expensive task Basic construction projects frequently ran out of money, leaving renovation plans and critical repairs indefinitely postponed. Furthermore, t conditioning in combination with ion of the museum and the costumes. Even with a humorous story of an unexpected visit from a group of developers from the Disney Cruise Line during the muse representatives contacted Minister Allen and requested that the Junkanoo Expo remain open Expo a voided eviction and received funds from various government agencies to patch the roof, install carpets, and purchase an air conditioning unit. 115 Although Burnside narrated the Disney anecdote in order to illustrate the the incident ac tually demonstrates the overwhelming power of the tourism industry in that the perception of the muse is contingent upon its touristic value. Only after representatives from the cruise ship industry found the museum appealing did the Minist ry allocate the necessary funds to keep the museum open. Notwithstanding generous donations, augmented budgets, and frugal spending, the Junkanoo Expo continued to experience financial difficulties. Burnside recalled sitting in the on n umerous paydays, watching Minister Allen struggle to procure enough money for museum staff paychecks. Unfortunately, by 2003, inescapable repairs and lack of financing forced the Junkanoo Expo to close. 116 The National Junkanoo Museum as a Space of Consumption priorities to focus on bigger and more profitable cultural projects. To better accommodate ( and exploit ) the booming cruise ship industry, the government in 2003, converted the ineffectual and homely craft market surrounding the Junkanoo Expo into a welcome center for the cruise shi ps (Fig. 29). Referred to as Festival Place, the new 34,000 square foot, indoor market offers to 115 Stan Burnside, interview. 116 correspondents could recall the exact year the museum closed. By deducing from newspaper articles and the Bahamas Independence and Beyond publication, I specu late that the Junkanoo Expo closed sometime around 2003.


36 such as Dora the Explorer straw purses, pricey coconut hand to the cruise ship docking station ensures that all visitors must proceed through the simulated mar ket center before ga ining entryway into the Bahamas, and, accordingly, Festival Place has become a thriving tourism center for New Providence Island. 117 Despite the radical changes to the Prince George Warf, the Junkanoo Expo remained closed during the pav A year after the commencement of Festival Place, the newly elected minister for the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture announced his intentions to re open the Junkanoo Expo. 118 Stan Burnside, with government liaison and Junkanoo enthusiast, Angelique McKay. 119 Despite Museum continues to experience the sam e professional obstacles endured by other Caribbean museums. Neither of the directors posses ses a museum background nor has undergone museum training, which severely affects Furthermore, th e museum does not belong to the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC), which is the leading museum organization and the primary source for professional development s ystem, the Antiques, Monuments, and Museums Associations (AMMC). By not participating in these organizations, the National Junkanoo Museum cannot take advanta ge of the invaluable services with which they assist Caribbean museums in training museum profess ionals, developing professional standards of practice, and providing collaboration oppor tunities with other Caribbean and United States museums. 117 The Nassau Guardian, February 22, 2003. The government also intended for Festival Place to eliminate the growing resentment and hostility against livelihoods depe nd on this arrangement. Instead, the government spent $86,000 to build the mall like welcome center in which Bahamians can rent booths to sell their products. In my observations of Festival Place, I noted that many of the booths were closed throughout th e day, and very few people actually stopped at the open counters. 118 The Nassau Guardian August 14, 2004. 119 After interviewing both Stan Burnside and Angelique McKay, I gathe r that the Junkanoo community does made possible due to his friendship with the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture, Allen Alljeron. With the inauguration of the new Minister, Neville Wisdom, Burnside lost his rapport with the department and stepped down from his position as a director to become a consultant for the museum.


37 Notw ve that t he Junkanoo Expo still possesses enormous economic potential. According to McKay, the key po into a cultural tourism site. Expo officials have developed a number of marketing strategies designed to obtain maximum f inancial gains from the re 120 o n tourism, the Junkanoo Expo expects to contribute financially to the parade s and help sustain the ever growing number of Junkanoo groups. 121 McKay intends for the mu seum to expand its sole concentration on the costumes and, instead focus holistically on the festival by including collection spaces dedicated to the instruments, the choreographed dance, and the history of Junkanoo. 122 The Ministry reopened a much smaller version of the museum in 2004 but the Expo was largely ignored by the government and the public and consequently fell quickly into disarray. Finally in 2006 a committee formed specifically to address the neglected Junkanoo Expo. The committee changed the name of the Expo to the National Junkanoo Museum of the Bahamas and officially appointed Angelique McKay as the new manager for the museum. As a result of the perpetual construction, the museum held a soft opening in April 2007 but closed indefinitel y in March 2008 until all construction could be completed (Figs. 31 and 32) 123 Future plans for the museum include the addition of a theatre, an internet caf, and an interactive mp3 display. 124 In terms of d version of the museum catering to the vis in which all the familiar, modern, and cushy amenities of home are provided, the Nationa l Junkanoo Museum is expected to att ract additional tourists. The m useum has always primarily attracted and served the interests of tourists as the 120 The Nassau Guardian, January 6, 2004. 121 Ibid. 122 McKay, interview. A space that once accommodated on average twenty costumes will now only display five to six costumes. The decre reorientation diminishes the significance of the costumes. 123 Ibid. As of June 2009, the museum remains closed and construction is still underway According to Junkano o artists working in the space at the time of my visit in January of 2009, the museum will most likely not reopen until January 2010. 124 Ibid.


38 Bahamians who continue to live on the western side of the island. More importantly, insufficient parking makes traveling to the tourist district very difficult and further discourages locals from visiting the museum. McKay and the Ministry of Tourism are currently pursuing a p roject that would provide free bussing to the museum as a means to encourage visitation. 125 Throughout the last several decades, as museums compete with other leisure venues such as shopping malls and theme parks, the need for consumer orientated practic es become these goals. Museum stores offer an assortment of merchandise that not only generat es vital revenue for the museum but also attracts visitors by accommoda consumption habits. 126 More museums are accommodating consumer culture by developing retail environments that mirror conventional department stores, placing museum stores and gift shops in prominent locations within the museum. Museum scholar Robyn Gillam boldly claims oing to the museum is now more like visiting a shopping mall than a library, and hence a 127 Visitors find museum stores so appealing because museum merchandise conveys a similar degree of cu lture and elitism signified by the original objects. Likewise, museum merchandise differentiates itself from other types of commodities in that the cultured museum environment garners a perception of gift shop items as containing an inherent uniqueness an d high quality. 128 The National Junkanoo Museum is no exception to this retail trend, and throughout its gift shop sold the conventional Bahamian crafts straw b askets and conch jewelry but also 125 McKay, interview. 126 Shopping as an Entertainment Experience (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007), 101. According to a revenue of admission 127 Ibid., 99 spe Forbes Magazine named the store a Luxe Forbes Favorite for shopping., (accessed March 18 2009). 128 that since museum objects are for the most part kept secure behind glass and ropes, the purchase of reproductions simulates the excitement of actually touching the original.


39 featured Junkanoo themed specialties such as original paintings and fine prints. The same Junkanoo artists featured in the exhibition space were also represented by their original artwork in the gift shop. 129 As souvenirs, experiences with the costumes, even with, a lived e 130 Furthe rmore, the purchased objects become instrumental tools for dispersing cultural knowledge 131 The Junkanoo paintings stand in for the masquerader and allow the tourist to s imulate Bahamian culture in their own environment. objective to rediscover and legitimize a Bahamian heritage. The commodified version of the costumes presented to tourist s actually reinforces the colonial history the Bahamians intend ed to reject. Foremost, the museum promotes the costumes in vernacular terms reminiscent of the coloni al experience insofar as websites advertise Junkanoo and the museum in such terms as Expl ore Discover Celebrate Junkanoo 132 The typical marketing strategy for the Caribbean employs ue qualities of the islands in ways that replay the exploratory ambitions of European colonizers. 133 The National Junkanoo Museum further compounds the voyage of colonialism by selectively exhibiting only the most exotic and ostentatious costumes, ignoring characteristics, such as 129 Stan Burnside, interview. The typical Junkanoo painting features an idealized v ersion of the masqueraders, almost always performing with a goat skin drum or some other traditional Junkanoo instrument. 130 Lifestyle Shopping: The Subjec t of Consumption ed. Rob Shields, (London: Routledge, 1992), 136. 131 Ibid., 136. 132 ndor/ educulture tours junkanoo (accessed June 30, 2009).; Travel World International Magazine, http://www.travelwo essence nassau ( accessed June 30, 2009). ; and rsionID=N 30 FORTSExcursion (accessed June 30, 2009). 133 Strachan, Paradise and Plantation, 111


40 the museum portrays an image of the Bahamas as different and sepa rate from the rest of the world; an image in harmony with s touristic appeal. The image of Junkanoo marketed to tourists is arguably a romanticized version of Bahamian history that better accords with the tourists 134 Colorful, charming, and apolitical costumes are essential to the acceptance of this myth of the Bahamas as an isolated, tropical destination. 134 Strachan, Paradise and Plantation, 108 109.


41 CHAPTER FOUR THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF AUTHENTICITY Although the Nati onal Junkanoo Museum shares simila rities with its Caribbean neighbors, the museum is considerably different in one fundamental way Unlike many of the other Caribbean museums which were founded on the meta narrative of colonial experience that ltural heritage, the National Junkanoo Museum originated as an institution founded by local artists dedicated to the preservation of an African tradition 135 By emerging after the country gained independence from Great Britain, the National Junkanoo Museum never directly experienced the type of colonial oversight that would certainly have impacted their museum policies and exhibition content. As a result of such autonomy, the museu m developed its own criteria for preserving Bahamian cultural heritage. W ithout an overbearing colonial influence, McKay and her committee initiated an exhibition policy that radically diverges from typical museum practice insofar as the National Junkanoo Museum operates without a permanent collection. Instead of storing and e xhibiting the costumes indefinitely as was the practice s first director, Stan Burnside, the museum now collaborates with the groupers to exhibit the winning Lead Pieces and Off the Shoulder costumes on an annual basis 136 Since th e museum returns the costumes to the artists after a year long exhibition, the artists are free to continue their practice of destroying the costumes. 137 The museum does not necessitate that the artists must destroy the costumes 135 My study emphasizes the hybrid natu re of the Junkanoo festival in which African, British, Trinidadian, and American influences shape the contemporary structure of Junkanoo. 136 Previously, the costumes were only removed from the museum if groupers needed them for a performance, if they s tarted to deteriorate, or if groupers donated more innovative and extravagant costumes Since the artists are only loaning their costumes to the museum and thereby can reclaim the costly aluminum rods, plastic feathers, and other materials, the artists fi nd no reason to charge the National Junkanoo Museum for exhibiting their art. A museum as small as the National Junkanoo Museum does not possess the funds to pay for the costumes and the current arrangement is mutually beneficial to the artists and the mu seum. The Junkanoo groups whose costumes are exhibited earn a degree of notoriety in the community which corresponds well with the deep rooted competitive spirit of Junkanoo. 137 The contemporary costumes that are destroyed maintain their ephemeral nature but for a n entirely different reason then costumes of the past. In the past, costumes were discarded because they were made from disposable, inexpensive materials and because spectators and performers wanted to devise new, better costumes for the followi if an artist chooses to destroy the costumes they do in order to recover some of the Thus, contemporary artists are


42 once handed back to the comm unity, although the majority of the artists do so in order to reuse the expensive materials. When questioned about the McKay contended that the change better correspond s with the artistic philosophies of Junkanoo. By displayi ng only the newest costumes and latest construction techniques and designs, the museum no longer interferes with the traditional Junkanoo cycle of creation 138 My fourth chapter analyzes the absence of a permanent collection at the Nationa l Junkanoo Museum in which exhibition p olicy further complicate s the relationship between authenticity commercialis m, and Junkanoo. I find a correlation between ts which leads me to argue that the National Junka noo Museum constructs a discourse of notaslagia in order to authenticate the objects it exhibits The National Junkanoo Museum engineers a discourse of nostalgia by maintaining the cost by selectively exhibiting only thos e costumes that support a romanticized version of history. However, the museum uses commercialized and bedazzled costumes to construct this discourse which complicat es the distinction between authentic and inauthentic. Moreover, the t of destroying the costumes both paradoxically contradicts ction. Altogether, I argue that asserting says little about preserving the authenticity of the objects, but instead, demonstrate The sociology of nostalgia as theorized by sociologists Fred Davis and Bryan Turner, is a framework for understanding the relevance and meaning of nostalgia in our present day lives and the general conditions and circ umstances that evoke nostalgic responses. 139 As previously mentioned in Chapter one, nostalgia is defined as a yearning for lost patterns of everyday life and the invention of a romanticized version of what can never be regained or recreated 140 Turner in h further destroying their costumes for an entire today serves a different purpose then before. 138 McKay, interview. 139 Turner takes the importance of nostalgic studies one step further and contends that contemporary social the ory October 57 (1991): 135. Turner explains that nostalgia and nostalgic metaphors have played a central role in the develop ment of Western civilizations 140


43 and cultural integration following the impact of industrial, urban, capitali 141 Davis in his seminal book Yearning for Yesterday: A Sociology of Nostalgia emphasizes that nostalgia, above all, alleges that the past is always fundamentally superior to the present. 142 Thus w hen contemporary practices and conventions diff er considerably from the past they tend to signify a historical decline, the absence of moral wholeness and certainty, and/or the loss of personal freedom, simplicity and emotional spontaneity. 143 Nostalgia provides humanity with a much needed sense of continuity by connecting people to their past and uniting individuals through shared experiences. Hence nostalgia impacts the formation of personal and collective identities by former selves, (2) screening from memory the unpleasant or shameful (3) rediscovering and through a normalizing process, rehabilitating marginal, fugitive, and eccentric fac ets of earlier selves. [and (4) ] locat[ing] in memory an earlier version of self with which to measure t o 144 Furthermore, nostalgia possesses the power to authenticate the places, events, and moods of the past. As Davis argues, since one can only be nostalgic for the circumstances and conditions personally experienc ed as opposed to the bygone eras recorded in history books or passed down orally from generation to generation this 141 142 Davis, Yearning for Yesterday, 14 rhetorical signat why nostalgia privileges the past over the present, in other words, why succumb to an idealized, utopic version of the past? Turner attempts to provide an explanation for this characteristic of nostalgia with his four dimensions of nostalgic discourse, all of which center on the issues of dimensions. 143 Turner outlines the four dimensions of nostalgic di scourse and explains the conditions that bring about nostalgic responses. Nostalgia is first a sense of historical decline and loss in that humans perceive contemporary times as a radical departure from a former golden age. Secondly, nostalgia is charact erized by a sense of absence or loss of personal wholeness and moral certainty. This existential crisis derives from the modernization of rural societies, primarily through the introduction of capitalistic markets that undermine religious and community au thority, and replace social unity with the uncertainty and loneliness of globalization. With the annihilation of God and social relationships, the isolated individual is subjected to the third element of nostalgia, a sense of lost personal freedom. With the intensified dependency on bureaucracy and the regulatory measures provided by modern institutions, personal autonomy diminishes. Finally, the fourth dimension of nostalgia pertains to a loss of simplicity, personal authenticity, and emotional spontane the primitive emotions celebrated during peasant festivals, Turner explains that the fourth dimension of nostalgia sense of legitimacy. 150 51. 144 Davis, Yearning for Yesterday 44 45


44 However n ostalgia invents a romanticized version of the past 145 As in dicated in Chapter three, nostalgia only recalls those memories that serve the interests and needs of the present. 146 Nostalgia constructs a system of Bahamian art ist, and the national rhetoric of cultural identity. not only of recontextualization but of invention, [emphasis added] and that ev en the most 147 Altogether, the study of nostalgia further exposes the myth of authenticity, in which nostalgia, as a form of consciousness, constructs, maintains, and reconstructs our sense of the past. 148 The Discourse of Nostalgia and the National Junkanoo Museum Although Davis and Turner apply the principles of nostalgia only to traditional practices, I extend the discourse of nostalgia to also include the yearning for cer tain historical objects. In other words, t he same principles and observations of nostalgia that apply to age old conventions also affect material objects. 149 In regards to Junkanoo, many Bahamians certainly express nostalgic sentiments for the crpe paper costumes of the past They contend that the exaggerated application of rhinestones, feathers, glitter, and paint reduces the usage of fringe paper T he Nassau Guardian maintained that contempor ary costumes have violated the essence of Junkanoo Junkanoo is about goat skin drums, cowbells, whistles, horns, an d fringe paper costumes. Applying cut 145 Davis, Yearning for Yesterday, 47 146 Ibid., 9 10. 147 he above quotation is from cultural the The Invention of Tradition (1983) 148 Davis, Yearning for Yesterday, 31. 149 Recent scholars, such as Janelle L. Wilson in Nostalgia: Sanctuary of Meaning ( 2005 ) have studied nostalg influence on the meaning attributed to objects.


45 paper, or paint, or any of th e other ready made decorative pieces may be easier, but is i t worth 150 T he discourse of nostalgia is a common form of epistemology adopted by many small, local museums to dictate the interpre tation of their collections. In the museum context interpreting objects through nostalgic lenses delivers a positive rendition of history and then sanctions the se idealized versions as truth. 151 Likewise, the National Junkanoo Museum constructs a discourse of nostalgia in two manners the first in regards to its material objects and the second in regards to a traditional Junkanoo practice. First, objectionable elements an d minimizes alternative narratives by choosing to exhibit only the types of costumes which confirm the romanticized and picturesque qualities of Junkanoo the museum wishes to perpetuate. co stumes or their politically overt noosed figure s ; instead, it showcases costumes that feature ornate representations of dragons and King Neptune, themes that do not stray from the nostalgic narrative (Figs. 3, 19, and 28). Since the museum is part of the exhibits an abbreviated and simplified account of Junkanoo which can be more easily marketed to tourist s Accordingly, the produc tion of an idealized version of the festival demonstrates the present day interests a nd needs of contemporary groups chiefly, current agenda to bolster cultural tourism Second, the National Junkanoo M useum constructs a discourse of nostalgia by providing the Junkanoo artists with the opportunity to destroy their exhibited costumes. Since n ostalgia a sense of continuity with the past, upholding t he costume s traditional ephemerality instills a much needed connection to a former golden age, thereby dignifying certain aspects of Junkanoo history and supposedly once an important asp ect of Junkanoo, and the museum attempt s to re store lost authenticity as a resu lt of their new function as museum objects. Furthermore, permitting artists the opportunity to reclaim their costumes offsets the sense of lost freedom and personal 150 The Nassau Guardian, January 14, 1997. 151 Defining Memories: Local M useums and the Construction of ed. Amy K. Levin (Lanham: Alta Mira Press, 2007), 93 94.


46 increasing dependency on bureaucracy. Nevertheless, t he the distinction between authentic ity and inauthenticity. The museum constructs a discourse of nostalgia (by selectively exhibiting costumes that support a romant icized version of the past and reinstituting a traditional practice that maintains continuity with the past) in order to authenticate the exhibited costumes However, nostalgia also dictates that contemporary practices and I contend material objects as we ll that break from tradition are indeed inauthentic since they do not maintain continuity with the past Ironically, to construct this discourse of nostalgia the museum uses contemporary costumes; the type of commercialized and bedazzled costumes that cer tainly do not maintain continuity with the past Essentially the National Junkanoo Museum arguably uses Nostalgic attitudes would prefer that contemporary costumes reflect the i ntegrity of th e cr pe paper or the eye catching qualities of the sponge costumes, traditions that date back to the golden age of Junkanoo (Fig. 33). Instead, the museum proudly displays contemporary costumes that demonstrate the abundant use of decorative materials and the ever increasing size and thre e dimensionality of Lead Pieces ( which resemble Trinidadian floats more than Junkanoo costumes ) (Fig. 34). 152 Although plans for the future museum do include the display of a large timeline that illustrates the evolution of the Junkanoo costumes, the museum still severs a connection with older costumes by allowing only the newest ones to be exhibited, a practice that eclipses signs of influence from previous generations. In regard s to the discourse of nostalgia, which asp ects of Junkanoo should be considered authentic? Are the commercialized, bedazzled costumes of the present more authentic because the y correspond with the fundamental competitive spirit of Junkanoo which has always shown a preference for innovation and n ew construction designs and techniques? Or, are the crpe paper costumes more authentic because they demonstrate continuity with the past and are the type of costumes the government has strove to preserve? Does the fact that crpe paper is not an indigen ous Bahamian material, and that the majority of the colored papers used in the costumes ar e imported from other countries change the costumes authenticity? Perhaps the scrapper 152 As the costumes become larger and more extravagant, the Lead Pieces are becoming more float like and now include tiers, pro ps, and spaces for seated individuals


47 costumes constitute a heightened degree of authenticity since their simplifie d costumes signify a the festival a period when Bahamians masqueraded for purely social and political objectives and not for tourist entertainment. As suggested by the opening quote in Chapter one, people falsely believe that a culture is defined by its materials objects, and as a consequence of this conviction they become very protective over the se objects. Nostalgia operates in a similar manner giving validity to certain traditions and obje cts of that past which people then become much attached to However, criticism of the discourse reveals that nostalgia, as a form of consciousness, invents a fabricated, romanticized version of the past which implies that the exact markings of authentic ity are inconsequential to the larger issue of why certain elements are deemed authentic endence on tourism account for the construction of authenticity. E ven more troublesome for the National Junkanoo Museum is that for e fronting the m. As demonstrated by Chapter t hree, the museum intends for the exhibited costumes to assume a new commercial function and augment the Ministr Nonetheless, the museum ignores the contemporary role o f Junkanoo by re instituting a tradition that does not reflect the current use of the costumes a s symbols of Bahamian culture and as promotional tools for attracting tourists. Nostalgia dictates that the costumes should maintain a sense of continuity with less ornate reached a new level of extravagance and cost, the art form has also becom e so ingrained in the Bahamian community being performed at funerals, beauty pageants, hotel conventions, and summer festivals that destroying the costumes is impractical for most artists. Arguably, the museum defeats its own touristic agenda by sanctioni ng the destruction of the very objects meant to be consumed. While at the same time, the practice also augments the costume s touristic appeal. Upon comparing the


48 o riginal mission to its current goal, one discovers an ironic situation that helps explain how a discourse can both contradict Junkanoo artists established the Expo as a means to preserve and recogn traditions of the Bahamian people. The costumes had assumed a level of aesthetic development that warranted their signification as national symbols of culture, fashioning their traditional ephemeral nature incompatible with their new function. In essence, the Junkanoo community were then relocated from the street to a more suitable environment, a national museum. When the Junkanoo Expo re opened in 2004 as the National Junkanoo Museum, the Junkanoo economic potential. An important motivating factor for tourists is the possibility of experiencing the a touristic appeal. 153 In order to enhance paradigm, the museum became a non collecting institution. At th previously considered irrelevant ephemerality b ecame once more important; although this time, for an entirely different reason. While destroying the costumes once solved logistical problems as well as signified the importance o f innovation and competition, the practice now is performed to provide tourists with an authentic tradition, thereby increasing their touristic appeal and commercial function. 154 important to the National Junkanoo Museum since the typical tourist only experiences the costumes within the safe promotional campaign s the majority of tourists never attend the Boxing Da 155 153 : Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Lesiure Class (New York: Schocken Books, 1976), 14, 98 104. 154 At this time, the museum staff verbally informs the visitors of its non collecting policy. 155 This observation has been stated by many Junkanoo artists, including McK ay, Dames, and both Burnside See also Strachan, Paradise and Plantation, 129. Buying tickets for the parade is a very cumbersome task as Festival Place, the hotels, and cruise ships advertise for Junkanoo and report to sell tickets, but in reality, have none available for tourists. These places do not purposely withhold Junkanoo tickets from tourists, but lack of planning and organization on the part of the Ministry of Tourism prevents most tourists from purchasing tickets. As I discovered, a tourist that makes repeated attempts to find tickets is finally told that local churches, schools, and community centers located far from the tourist district of Nassau actually sell the tickets. The few tourists lucky enough to acquire tickets are further


49 Instead, tourists primarily view the Junkanoo costumes in the secure and sterile environment of their hotels, restaurants, and Festival Place (Fig. 35). 156 In addition, there is also a summer festival, Junkanoo in June which offers tourists another sheltered opportunity to participate in the festival (Fig. 26). In 1999, the Ministry of Tourism developed the summer festival as a indus 157 Throughout the month of June, nightly parades and music al ensembles are performed for tourists at Awarak Cay, a popular restaurant hub located adjacent to Bay Street. and cuisines, even going so far as to offer for sale costume pieces and instruments so that tourists may participate in Junkanoo festival occurs earlier in the evening, usually starting around 5:00PM, in order to better time schedule. 158 Similarly the National Junkanoo Museum provides tourists with another opportunity to experience the costumes without having to attend the actual festival. The museum displays the costumes within a space suggestive of their original context, with walls painted brightly to mimic the other colorful costumes that typically surround them and placed in an expansive, open space that alludes to the outdo or environment. Additionally, the museum plays music from 159 Since the institutional and physical confines of the National Junkanoo Museum prevent the museum from ever completely replicati ng the Junkanoo parade s calculated measure to maintain some type of authenticity. 160 discouraged from participating in Jun kanoo in that the parade does not begin until 2:00 a.m. and usually ends about 10:00 a.m. the next morning. Even more so, tourists are made to feel very uncomfortable as they are unaware of the the parade dressed in their most expensive winter jackets, winter clothing, and jewelry, despite the seventy degree weather and informal atmosphere of the parade. Bahamians dress fashionably for the parade because the event is similar to a big reunion (pe ople frequently encounter old friends and acquaintances), and also because most Bahamians are coming to parade from church services and Christmas parties. Curtis, interview. 156 Strachan, Paradise and Plantation, 129. 157 The Nassau Guardian, June 7, 2004. 158 Ibid. 159 McKay, interview.


50 Criticism of Junkanoo and Postcolonial Museums The conflicts and paradoxes that arise from the National Junkanoo Mu nostalgia conjure up two very important questions regarding contemporary practices of t the costumes and the festival and what does it say about the people whose art it displays for touristic reconsidered in the wake of tourism indicates the fluidity and complexity of the Junkanoo tradition itself. Throughout the festiv stylistic and physical qualities of the costumes, as well as reinvented the purpose and meaning behind the art of masquerading in order to better accommodate the current interests of the people it se rves. Today, Junkanoo is simultaneously a propagandistic tool for denoting national sovereignty, a commodified cultural product for achieving economic stability, and highly valued representation o f Bahamian cultural identity. Acknowledging the multifacete d functions of the reveals how deeply entrenched the festival is in Bahamian society. several Bahamians continue to f ind disturbing the commodification and institutionalization of Junkanoo O ne angry editorial for the Nassau Guardian expressed his concern by stating The history books will record that in a little under two years, the generational cultural expression kn own as Junkanoo was reduced to rubble, sacrificed on the altar of personal egos and immature administrative agendas. Our beloved Junkanoo has been left abandoned, void of cultural vision with the national good forsaken for future political gain 161 Howev er, economic value and function. Since the 1920s, the festival has constituted an economic significance that I argue is as intrinsic to its meaning as the goat skin drums and fringe costumes. 160 Festivals and museums occupy different sides of the spectrum and the inherent attributes of festivals differ y, the sensory experiences typified in festivals do not correspond with the passivity of museums. While festivals indulge the senses and actively engage the audience through loud music, tantalizing smells, and unusual sights, the normative museum experien ce invites visitors to silently contemplate objects only with their eyes. Additionally, the dynamic environment of festivals encourages participation and interactivity which contradicts significantly with the impeding physical and intellectual barriers in museums that separate audiences from objects. Retrospectively, the museum guards, the glass display cases, and the white washed walls further removes festival objects from their performative context and conditions a greater need for interpretation. See I Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, ed. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine (Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1991), 279 83. 161 The Nassau Guardian, Fe bruary 2, 2004.


51 The National Junkanoo Mu seum and its unusual exhibition policies also bring up the question: Is the Western concept of a museum appropriate for museums in postcolonial societies? Arguably museums are the epitome of colonial institutions and one wonders what makes a new nation att empting to deflect their colonial past aspire for a museum. 162 While this thesis did not intend to provide a definite answer to this question, the study of Junkanoo and the National Junkanoo Museum rev eals that the art of collecting significant for understa nding how societies construct and identify with their past and how objects infer or deny meaning is not central to all museums. 163 The National Junkanoo Museum avoids the practice of not collecting for practical reasons (insufficient funds and space to hold a permanent collection), in order to 164 162 ed. by Flora E.S. Kaplan (London: Leicester Univers ity Press, 1994), 19. 163 Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts, ed. by Bettina Messias Carbonell (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 456, 459. Museums in West Africa g rapple with similar concerns, attempting to provide a viable solution for dusty, rotting collections that have long lost their meaning after being relegated to a museum space and not used anymore. The National Museum of Mali has arrived at the same conclu sion as the National Junkanoo Museum in which the museum exhibited and toured loaned family memorabilia and local heirlooms to the museum, still in use and therefore maintaining a connection with the local society, but then returned to the families and nev er entering the preserving objects had little to do with their concept of the past and thus devised an alternative solution for re creating the past. The museum exist completely without any permanent collection and restores meanings to its objects by allowing royal objects to continue being used by chiefs and instead placing replicas of the objects on display. Although the use of replicas may at first appe ar contradictory to the purpose of a museum, the Asante people find the solution extremely appropriate since it was customary to replicate royal objects for continued use once they wore out. In essence, the revered royal objects had always been some sort of copy of the original and the Asante accepted the museum replicas as carrying the same meaning as the objects in use. 164 into artifacts or art seemingly signifies that a nation is finally recognizing its past and educating its community members the practice of collecting may also represent the death of a culture, especially cultural practices originated from festivals whose celebratory and ephemeral nature conflict with the static and eternal characteris tics of a museum


52 CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION Although Bahamian traditionalists denounce the contemporary aspe cts of Junkanoo, the festival notably the Junkanoo costumes encompass es substantive touristic and commercial function s that are fundamental to the formation of a Bahamian national and cultural identity. My thesis analyzed the relationship between authenti city, tourism, nostalgia, Junkanoo, and Bahamian identity and provided the first historical account of the National Junkanoo Museum, an institution which I argued uses a discourse of nostalgia and the myth of authenticity to value. Originally, the institution of slavery and the racial barriers enacted under colonial rule contributed to the early traditions of Junkanoo. The observance of a three day Christmas holiday granted to all Bahamian slaves provided a small window o f freedom for masquerading, a practice which later developed into a processional act that culminated on Bay Street during the post emancipation period of the mid nineteenth century. As the costumes grew in size and sophistication, the Bahamian government assumed control of the festival, and instituted a series of rules and regulations meant to transform the unruly celebration into a wholesome, tourist friendly event. Concurrently, the Bahamian Development Board began marketing the islands as correspo nded well with the image of Paradise that the Board intended to promote. Overall, the institutionalization of Junkanoo enabled the festival to maintain key, distinguishabl e features that were later appropriated by the newly independent state to reinforce their nationalistic programs After the Bahamas achieved independence from Great Britain, Junkanoo came to symbolize a new national and cultural identity predicated upon t people. Contemporary Junkanoo costumes serve a more commercial function and are performed for tourists at popular hotels, exported internationally as Bahamian cultural products, and constitute the majority of the The commodification of Bahamian culture fulfills both nationalistic and economic agendas, and the National Junkanoo Museum provides an excellent opportunity to study the effects of the Bahamian heritage industry on the Ju nkanoo costumes. The history of the museum


53 can be divided into two distinct phases: its initial stage from 1993 to 2003 when artist Stan Burnside operated the museum as the Junkanoo Expo, and its second stage from 2004 to the present when government liais on Angelique McKay assumed control of the museum. Originally founded as an institution dedicated to the preservation of the Junkanoo tradition, the Junkanoo Expo provided artists with a sufficient space to exhibit their costumes which reinforced their sta tus as icons of Bahamian culture and national identity now operates as a cultural tourism site that primarily serves the interests of tourists. The goal conflicts wi th its commercial fu nction in that to display the costumes as consumption objects is to evoke the colonial journey. Now exhibited as objects of discovery, the costumes convey an image of the Bahamas (and its people) as an isolated, exotic homeland and thereby perpetuate a co instill a new national and cultural identity. cultural tourism program, the museum must satisfy the touristic par adigm and display the perceived level of authenticity, the museum constructs a discourse of nostalgia and supports the practice of destroying the costumes as a museum policy Nostalgia, as a form of museum epistemology, corroborates partial and romanticized historical accounts in order to maintain construction of a discourse of nostalgia presen ts a number of controversies. Sanctioning the destruction of the costumes and selectively exhibiting only the grouper costumes blurs the boundaries between authentic and inauthentic. Altogether, the museum actually undermines its commitment to represent the between the institution and the evolving practices of Junkanoo in which the tradition of Junkanoo artists. Although allowing the artists the opportunity to reclaim their costumes can be construed as an effort to restore the costumes ephemerality, I contend that the practice indicates the pervasive if often self contradictory role of the touri sm industry in formulating a Bahamian collective identity. Overall, my study contributes to the scholarship of Junkanoo by calling attention to the By demonstrating influences from British colonialism, African masquerading pr


54 held perception of the festival as self contained and indigenous. Throughout the discourse, the majority of scholars frequently emphasis as Although the disaporic traditions of Bahamian slaves certainly contributed to the development of Junkanoo I intended for this study to demonstrate that the link between Africa and Junkanoo is partially a propagandistic tool that went into effect shortly after the country gained independence. In order to divorce their cultural and national identity from the ir colonial past the newly independent state promoted Junkanoo as material evidence for an African heritage. Moreover, I am the first author to provide a comprehensive study of the history and policies of the National Junkanoo Museum. Bahamian historian Krista Thompson offers an abbreviated account of the Junkanoo Expo in Museum Frictions: Public Cultures and Global Transformations ; however, my analysis examines in more detail the historical development of the museum and the influence of the tourism indu stry on the ensuing practices. Studying the National Junkanoo Museum is important to the overall scholarship on the Caribbean arts because the institution exemplifies the theoretical and practical concerns facing museums in postcolonial societies. As in many postcolonial societies, the effects of colonization and tourism significantly impact the formation of a national and cultural identity and present a complicated situation that local museums are often times responsible for resolving. Furthermore, in p ostcolonial societies nostalgic sentiments may even heighten the sensitivity towards cultural objects in that these items represent the independence and sovereignty that was denied to community members for so long. Bahamians experiences all of these circu mstances and the National Junkanoo Museum displaying only those costumes that convey a picture of the Bahamas as unique and meaningful and by enacting a museum polic y that continues the customary destruction of the costumes.


55 APPENDIX FIGURES Figure 1. Off the Shoulder Dancers. 2009. Nassau, Th e Bahamas. Photo taken by author


56 Figure 2. Lead Piece. Date Unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


57 Figure 3. Exhibited Lead Piece at the Junkanoo Expo. 2001. Nassau, The Bahamas. Thompson,


58 author.


59 Figure 5 Junkanoo groups performing in Washington, D.C. 1992. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


60 Ministry of Tourism. 2004. Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics.


61 Figure 7 official beer of the Bahamas. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


62 Figure 8 Five dollar bill featuring Junkanoo masqueraders. Bahamian currency. R eleased in 2007.


63 Figure 9 Nassau Magazine. 1935. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


64 Figure 10. Ship headdresses, paper fringed costumes, and white masks. Exact date unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Originally published in Irade A. Reid, The John Ca noe Festival 1942. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


65 Figure 11 Paper fringed costumes. 1957. Nassau, The Bahamas. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


66 th anniversary. Off the Shoulder Dancer. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


67 Figure 13 Junkanoo masqueraders parodying English dress. Date unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


68 Figure 14 the Shoulder Dancer featuring the Rams football team. 2007. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by Sam Singh, obtained through Flickr,


69 Figure 15 f the Shoulder Dancer featuring Barack Obama. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


70 \ Figure 1 6 Choreographed Dancer. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


71 Figure 1 7 Photo by author.


72 Figure 18 009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


73 Figure 19 2009. Photo by author.


74 Fig ure 20 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


75 Figure 21 Frame Dancer costumed as a snowmobile r ider. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.




77 nner recognizing sponsorship from SOBE Energy Drink. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


78 Figure 2 4 Discarded co stumes after the Boxing Day parade 1986. Nassau, The Bahamas. Nunley and Bettelheim, Caribbean Festival Arts.


79 Figure 25. Aluminu m rods and cardboard frames for costumes. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


80 Erin Clark, obtained through Flickr, http://www. 46/336013572/




82 Figure 28. Exhibited Lead Piece at the Junkanoo Expo. 2001. Nassau, The Bahamas. Thompson,


83 Figure 29. Festival Place market and welcome center. 2008. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by Andrew, obtained through Flickr,


84 Figu re 30. Market stall inside Festival Place. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


85 Figure 31. Interior of the National Junkanoo Museum, main exhibition space, still under construction. January 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


86 Figure 32. Future site of the Junkanoo restaurant, within the museum space. January 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


87 Figure 33 Exact date unknown. Nassau, The Bahamas. Originally published in Reid, The John Canoe Festival, 1942. Ferguson, I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival.


88 Figure 34 more than a costume. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.


89 Figure 35. Off the shoulder costume displayed at Festival Place. 2009. Nassau, The Bahamas. Photo by author.

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90 BIBLIOGRAPHY Bethel, Clement E. Junkanoo: Festival of the Bahamas. Edited by Nicolette Bethel. London: MacMillan Caribbean, 1992. Paper presented at the Junkanoo Symposium, The College of the Bahamas, Nassau, The Bahamas, March 19, 2002. Burnside, Jackson. Interview by author. Nassau, The Bahamas. January 2, 2009. Burnside, Stanley. Interview by author. Co rrespondence through phone call. March 10, 2008. Slavery and Abolition 16 ( Winter 1995): 14 44. Role of Objects in National Identity, edited by Flora E.S. Kaplan, 192 220. London: Leicester University Press, 1994. Curtis, Mornette. Interview by author. Nassau, The Bahamas. January 1, 2009. Dames, Eddy. Interview by author. Nassau, The Bahamas. December 30, 2008. Davis, Fred. Yearning for Yesterday: A Sociology of Nostalgia. New York: Free Press, 1979. Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society 17 (October 1995): 11 21. Lifestyle Shopping: The Subject of Co nsumption, edited by Rob Shields, 136 48. London: Routledge, 1995. Museums edited by Flora E.S. Kaplan, 221 245. London: Leicester University Press, 1994. Ferguson, Arlene Nash. I Come to Get Me!: an Inside Look at the Junkanoo Festival. Nassau: Doongalik Studios, 2000. October 57 ( Summer 199 1): 123 151.

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91 Trinidad Carnival: The Cultural Politics of a Transnational Festival, edited by Garth L Green and Philip W. Scher, 62 83. Bloomington: Indiana University P ress, 2007. Gottdiener, Mark. New Forms of Consumption: Consumers, Culture, and Commodification. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing, 2000. Johnson, Whittington B. Post Emancipation Race Relations in The Bahamas. Gainesville: University of Florid a, 2006. Identity, edited by Flora E.S. Kaplan, 19 44. London: Leicester Univ ersity Press, 1994. 45 78. London: Leicester University Press, 1994. Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, edited by Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, 279 87. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1991. Defining Memories: Local Museums and 93 96. Lanham: Alta Mira Press, 2007 93 94. M a cCannell, Dean. The Tourist: A New Theory of the Lesiure Class. New York: Schocken Books, 1976. Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts, edited by Bettina Messias Carbonell, 455 60. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. McKay, Angelique. Interview by author. Correspondence through phone call. Febr uary 26, 2008. Shopping as an Entertainment Experience, 99 110. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007. Nunley, John W. and Judith Bett elheim. Caribbean Festival Arts: Each and Every Bit of Difference. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988. Black Music Research Journal 19 ( Spring 1999): 71 92.

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94 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Ressa Mackey received a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art from Florida State University in 2005. Immediately following her graduation, Ressa worked in Ja cksonville, Florida at the Karpe les Manuscript Museum as the Outreach Program Coordinator, and was responsible for organizing and managing funded outreach program In the fall 2006 Ressa moved to Ft. Lauderdale and worked Art. During the fall 2007, Ressa began her graduate studies in Art History at FSU and pursed a concentration in modern art, focusing on World Arts and the Car ibbean. While pursuing her graduate studies, Ressa received an internship at the LeMoyne Center of the Visual Arts in second year in graduate school, Ressa served as the Art History Association. Also during her second year, Ressa and her husband, Michael, welcomed the birth of their first child, Abigail Renee Tomkiewicz, on March 25, 2009. After graduating from FSU in fa ll 2009 with a Masters of Arts History and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies, Ressa intends to work in the Tallahassee area at an art museum or gallery, where she hopes to continue her work in art museum education.