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The Neoliberal Deluge

The Neoliberal Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism, and the Remaking of New Orleans

Cedric Johnson Editor
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    The Neoliberal Deluge
    Book Description:

    The Neoliberal Deluge locates the root causes of the disaster of Katrina squarely in neoliberal restructuring and examines how pro-market reforms are reshaping life, politics, economy, and the built environment in New Orleans. The contributors argue that human agency and public policy choices were more at fault for the destruction and social misery experienced than were sheer forces of nature. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7852-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE: “Obama’s Katrina”
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Cedric Johnson
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Neoliberal Deluge
    (pp. xvii-l)
    Cedric Johnson

    Hurricane Gustav in 2008 was the first major emergency trial for the city of New Orleans since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. And there was reason to worry. Gustav had reached category 4 strength as it swept across the westernmost end of Cuba days earlier. First-term Republican governor Bobby Jindal’s stern warnings to New Orleanians and coastal residents conveyed the lack of progress that had been made in shoring up the city’s flood protection system. At a much deeper level, however, his words reflected a rare honesty about the reigning philosophy of governance in the state and nation writ large....

  5. Part I. Governance

    • CHAPTER 1 From Tipping Point to Meta-Crisis: Management, Media, and Hurricane Katrina
      (pp. 3-31)
      Chris Russill and Chad Lavin

      Political discourse teems with crisis. Often, this is hyperbolic and opportunistic rhetoric mobilized in the service of a particular agenda or a media strategy to increase ratings. Sometimes, as during the first days of September 2005, when much of New Orleans lay beneath water, and when thousands of the most vulnerable residents were stranded without food, medical supplies, and toilets, narratives of crisis are unavoidable. It is true that not everyone witnessed the same crisis. While some saw an ecological crisis after a massive storm and levee failure destroyed so many homes and lives, others saw a humanitarian crisis as...

    • CHAPTER 2 “We Are Seeing People We Didn’t Know Exist”: Katrina and the Neoliberal Erasure of Race
      (pp. 32-59)
      Eric Ishiwata

      On September 1, 2005, four days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Jim Lehrer interviewed Michael Brown (then-director of FEMA) on PBS’sNewsHour.Five minutes into the interview, after becoming exasperated by Brown’s stilted refrain —“we’re moving as fast as we can”—Lehrer read a list of FEMA’s failings and asked: “So what does ‘as soon as we can’ mean at this stage of the game, Mr. Brown?”¹ Only slightly unnerved, Brown began his two-part answer by lauding FEMA’s accomplishments, noting that the evacuees at the Convention Center and Superdome had been supplied with “meals every day they’ve been...

    • CHAPTER 3 Making Citizens in Magnaville: Katrina Refugees and Neoliberal Self-Governance
      (pp. 60-84)
      Geoffrey Whitehall and Cedric Johnson

      The 2008 filmTrouble the Waterwas heralded as the best Katrina film in many corners for its first-person account of Kim Rivers Roberts’s struggle to survive and rebuild her life after the waters consumed her Upper Ninth Ward neighborhood. The film stands out because filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal drive the narrative through Kim’s priceless hand-held footage of the slow and catastrophic inundation of her neighborhood and the efforts of residents to save themselves. The film provides a more intimate account of government failure than that circulated widely in corporate news coverage of the disaster.Trouble the Water...

  6. Part II. Urbanity

    • CHAPTER 4 Mega-Events, the Superdome, and the Return of the Repressed in New Orleans
      (pp. 87-129)
      Paul A. Passavant

      Hurricane Katrina puts before us once more the question of the state and neoliberalism.¹ The contemporary state is represented in contradictory ways. The neoliberal state is represented as being small and weak due to a preference for market-based solutions to problems and a propensity to privatize its functions. Alternatively, the state is described as so strong that its sovereign decisions create unprivileged, disposable human life contained within a contemporary equivalent to the concentration camp. As a marker of contemporary confusion, some scholars hold both views. In fact, both conceptions of the state have been used to understand Hurricane Katrina’s immediate...

    • CHAPTER 5 Whose Choice? A Critical Race Perspective on Charter Schools
      (pp. 130-151)
      Adrienne Dixson

      In fall 2005, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco signed into law Legislative Act 35 (LA 35), which gave the state power to control failing school districts. As a result of LA 35, the state board of education established the Recovery School District (RSD) and took control of 107 of 128 New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS). As part of the rebuilding effort and with the support of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education, the state developed a plan to reopen schools in New Orleans. Currently, forty of seventy-nine public schools are charter schools. The RSD runs twenty-two of the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Black and White, Unite and Fight? Identity Politics and New Orleans’s Post-Katrina Public Housing Movement
      (pp. 152-184)
      John Arena

      In his provocative essay,“Why Is There No Black Political Movement?”political scientist Adolph Reed defines a political movement as a “force that has shown a capability, over time, of mobilizing popular support for programs that expressly seek to alter the patterns of public policy or economic relations.” Based on this definition, Reed, writing in the late 1990s, concludes that, at least at the national level, “There simply is no such entity in black American life at this point.”¹ In this article I use Reed’s working definition of apolitical movementand maintain his focus on policy issues particularly relevant...

  7. Part III. Planning

    • CHAPTER 7 Charming Accommodations: Progressive Urbanism Meets Privatization in Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation
      (pp. 187-224)
      Cedric Johnson

      In the waning months of 2007, New Orleans fell in love with Brad Pitt, the Hollywood actor with runway-model looks and the conscience and chutzpah of Sean Penn without the self-righteous attitude. Uniting residents, activists, and some of the most renowned architects in the world, Pitt launched the Make It Right (MIR) Foundation, a private sector effort to reconstruct 150 homes in one of the hardest-hit and neglected New Orleans’s neighborhoods, the Lower Ninth Ward. MIR would oversee the design, financing, and construction of state-of-the-art, ecologically sustainable homes. This project quickly garnered international recognition and extensive media coverage, including featured...

    • CHAPTER 8 Laboratorization and the “Green” Rebuilding of New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward
      (pp. 225-244)
      Barbara L. Allen

      In the days and months following the flooding from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August 2005, no neighborhood received more coverage than the destruction of the Lower Ninth Ward. After the storm, the floodwall separating the neighborhood from a navigable industrial canal ruptured, releasing a torrent of water, literally washing away an entire section of the city, and taking many lives in its wake. Whereas houses closest to the floodwalls were literally erased, uprooted from their foundation, and carried away, other parts of the Lower Ninth Ward (L9) were left damaged but intact to varying degrees. Dramatic press coverage,...

    • CHAPTER 9 Squandered Resources? Grounded Realities of Recovery in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka
      (pp. 245-266)
      Kanchana N. Ruwanpura

      I had just returned from my usual early morning hours at the gym and found an e-mail from a British friend inquiring whether I was safe from the threat of the impending hurricane. I lived in upstate New York. Of course, I was! Still I found the e-mail a little peculiar because between 6: 00 and 7: 00 a. m. on August 29, 2005, the television news had not particularly overplayed the imminent storm—and possessing no television of my own, the only place I had access to a television was while at the gym. The e-mail got me surfing...

  8. Part IV. Inequality

    • CHAPTER 10 How Shall We Remember New Orleans? Comparing News Coverage of Post-Katrina New Orleans and the 2008 Midwest Floods
      (pp. 269-299)
      Linda Robertson

      Many of America’s most influential television journalists vowed to take from their experience in New Orleans a commitment to covering issues related to race and poverty in America. The massive flooding during June and July 2008 in the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin provided an opportunity to act on that commitment because the natural disaster revealed an underlying—and underreported—economic exigency, just as it had in New Orleans. But while right-wing talk radio hosts compared what happened in New Orleans to the flooding in the Midwest, as did television comedians, no comparison based...

    • CHAPTER 11. The Forgotten Ones: Black Women in the Wake of Katrina
      (pp. 300-326)
      Avis Jones-Deweever

      For most Americans, the horrors of Katrina have devolved into nothing more than a sad, but distant memory. We have written our checks, said our prayers, and, if we were especially generous, volunteered a few days or weeks of our time toward rebuilding efforts. Yet, for many who call home the various cities, towns, and vast rural stretches all along the Gulf Coast that felt firsthand the wrath of Katrina, the daily struggle to reclaim some semblance of the life they once knew remains. In many ways, that struggle is a lonely, tumultuous challenge, wrought with shifting rules of the...

    • CHAPTER 12 Hazardous Constructions: Mexican Immigrant Masculinity and the Rebuilding of New Orleans
      (pp. 327-354)
      Nicole Trujillo-Pagán

      For a couple of weeks, media images of New Orleans flooded television sets and computer screens as they documented the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Less visible amid these images were the Latinos who had lived and worked in the area prior to the hurricanes. Those who returned to the city were joined by other Latinos who took on work and participated in efforts to rebuild the city. Having largely ignored the experiences of Latino evacuees, the media instead cast all Latino workers as “imported labor.” Local and national radio stations, newspapers, and politicians questioned Latinos’ right to work...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 355-358)
  10. Index
    (pp. 359-406)