Research

Howard University Architecture Professor Dahlia Nduom Receives Prestigious Graham Foundation Grant

Dahlia Nduom

Howard University architecture assistant professor Dahlia Nduom recently received a 2022 Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts Grant for her archival research of the architectural morphology of tourist and non-tourist spaces in Jamaica. Her research is titled, “Tourism, Tropicalization and the Architectural Image.”

“The Graham Foundation is one of the most prestigious grants available in architectural academia and I am excited for the opportunity to add to the body of knowledge on the complexities of Caribbean architecture,” said Nduom.

Selected as one of 56 researchers from a pool of nearly 500 submissions from around the globe, Nduom continues her research on the legacy of colonial and tourism consumption and the role architecture has played in imagery used to construct a tropical ideal.

Nduom examines the role of architecture in the narrative of an exotic Caribbean paradise constructed by a legacy of colonial and tourism consumption. An integral part of her research includes analyzing images that have been disseminated for centuries to advance political, sociocultural, and economic goals. From the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these images have been crafted to promote the Caribbean picturesque by disassociating the realities of death and disease, and the horrors of slavery. 

“Montego Beach Hotel,” ca. 1953. Postcard, 3.5 x 5.5 in. Courtesy Dahlia Nduom collection
 “Montego Beach Hotel,” ca. 1953. Postcard, 3.5 x 5.5 in. Courtesy Dahlia Nduom collection

Photographs, postcards, and advertisements of this tropical narrative from marketing schemes during the twentieth century development of tourism are also investigated. With a goal of understanding the schisms between tourist and non-tourist spaces, this project juxtaposes the documentation of architectural themes and their proliferation in tourist spaces with an analysis of the nuanced architectural vocabulary of Jamaica.

Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts fosters the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society. The Graham Foundation realizes this vision through making project-based grants to individuals and organizations and producing exhibitions, events and publications.