The Continuity of Deep Cultural Patterns: A Case Study of Three Marshallese Communities
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In the era of Global Climate Change, forced displacement and resettlement will affect coastal communities around the world. Through resettlement, the local production of culturally supportive environments can mitigate culture-loss. While previous vernacular architecture studies suggest that the influence of imported architecture leads to culture change, this study investigates the continuity of generative structures in the production of culturally supportive built-environments, demonstrating resilience. In addition, this study expands the discourse on the dialectic relationship between culture and the environment by investigating the role of Indigenous Design Knowledge in the production of culturally supportive space. The dissertation investigates the dialectic relationship between Marshallese culture and the built-environment and uncovers the continuity of deep cultural patterns (DCP) in the production of the Marshallese built-environment. These DCPs are forms of local knowledge production that generate culturally supportive environments. The study takes a theoretical position that persistent DCPs are resilient and provide cultural capital. A multi-sited case study was conducted across rural and urban communities in the Marshall Islands. Historical ethnographies and archaeological studies of the Marshall Islands were examined for cultural patterns present in the built-environment. Interviews, participant observation, site documentation, and a survey were assessed for persistent cultural patterns in the built-environment that supported everyday life. Qualitative analysis uncovered persistent patterns in everyday cultural behavior, such as the cookhouse, and quantitative analysis uncovered spatial and syntactic relationships that demonstrated persistent, underlying cultural structures, such as the shared genotype of urban and rural housing. While outside influence has impacted the production of the Marshallese built-environment and the Marshallese cultural evolution, I argue that DCPs generate everyday cultural spaces and aid in the reproduction of Marshallese place-identity. DCPs represent Indigenous Knowledge and should be applied to design frameworks for climate forced displacement and resettlement.