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Culture after the Hurricanes

Culture after the Hurricanes: Rhetoric and Reinvention on the Gulf Coast

Edited by M. B. Hackler
Jay D. Edwards
Keagan LeJeune
Benjamin Morris
Jeffrey Schwartz
Peter G. Stillman
Adelaide H. Villmoare
W. D. Wilkerson
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Culture after the Hurricanes
    Book Description:

    Rebuilding in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita presented some very thorny issues. Certain cultural projects benefited from immediate attention and funding while others, with equal cases for assistance but with less attraction to future tourist dollars, languished. New Orleans and its surroundings contain a diverse mixture of Native Americans, African Americans, Creoles, Cajuns, Isleños with roots in the Canary Islands, and the descendants of Italian, Irish, English, Croatian, and German immigrants, among others. Since 2005 much is now different for the people of the Gulf Coast, and much more stands to change as governments, national and international nonprofit organizations, churches, and community groups determine how and even where life will continue. This collection elucidates how this process occurs and seeks to understand the cultures that may be saved through assistance or may be allowed to fade away through neglect. Essays in Culture after the Hurricanes examine the ways in which a wide variety of stakeholders---community activists, elected officials, artists, and policy administrators---describe, quantify, and understand the unique assets of the region. Contributors question the process of cultural planning by analyzing the language employed in decision making. They attempt to navigate between rhetoric and the actual experience of ordinary citizens, examining the long-term implications for those who call the Gulf Coast home.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-491-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction “LOUISIANA’S NEW OIL” Planning for Culture on the New Gulf Coast
    (pp. 3-16)

    Several years after the devastating Gulf Coast storms of 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have left a discursive legacy that may prove more pervasive and longer lasting than their imprint of mud and water on the communities they ravaged. Indeed, for stakeholders along the Gulf Coast, navigating the books, articles, reports, and declarations may prove as disorienting and overwhelming as navigating the bureaucracies of rebuilding. Journalists, academics, pundits, and planners recognized in the early days of the disaster an event of historic proportions, as evidenced by the sheer volume of their output on the subject to date. Their responses run...

    (pp. 17-43)

    The United States is enamored of the culture of opportunity, usually cast as the chance for individuals to improve their economic lots in life. In this culture, individuals can always remake themselves. And in rare circumstances, cities can, too. While the opportunity to remake implies betterment, it can involve erasure of things people take to be central to their lives. When openly debated, the meanings of opportunity and the role of government in creating opportunities are not a given; they may be highly contentious because individuals and groups have differing, even conflicting, interests and visions about courses of action if...

  6. CHAPTER 2 NEW ORLEANS SHOTGUN A Historic Cultural Geography
    (pp. 44-90)

    How are priorities established for saving different kinds of houses and neighborhoods in New Orleans? This issue has risen to the forefront following Hurricane Katrina because in a triage-type environment in which there is limited funding, planning commissions and governmental bodies must make Solomonic decisions about what is to be saved and what is to be bulldozed. Something on the order of 130,000 of the city’s former black residents have failed to return (Browne-Dianis 2006; Livingston and Livingston 2007).¹ Approximately 75 percent of those living in low-lying, flood-prone areas of New Orleans were African Americans. These renters and owners of...

  7. CHAPTER 3 SOUL FOOD Katrina and the Culinary Arts
    (pp. 91-106)

    May 2007, Cambridge, England. There’s a restaurant, Old Orleans, not far from my house. It’s a chain theme restaurant owned by the Regent Inns conglomerate in the United Kingdom. Normally I walk right past it on the way home from work, but today my friend and I are thirsty, so, stepping inside and bellying up to the bar, we mournfully survey our options—Carling, Stella, Foster’s, all typical, mass-market lagers found in nearly any pub in the country. Suddenly, however, we light upon a beer whose name I have not seen in nearly two years: Dixie Beer, brewed by the...

  8. CHAPTER 4 MAKING GROCERIES Food, Neighborhood Markets, and Neighborhood Recovery in Post-Katrina New Orleans
    (pp. 107-138)

    On 30 August 2005, published two photographs showing people wading through Katrina’s floodwaters, groceries in tow. Superficially, the only difference between the two images is that one depicts a young black man, while the other portrays two young white adults. Yet in what became one of the better-known story lines of the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the captions’ characterizations of the storm victims’ activities differed markedly. With no context provided in either the photograph or the caption, the African American man is said to have “looted” from a grocery, while the white male and female merely “found” their...

  9. CHAPTER 5 LOSING GROUND The Cultural Politics of Cultural Landscapes in Plaquemines Parish
    (pp. 139-165)

    The weeks following Katrina brought floods of discourse nearly equal to the floods of brackish water drowning Louisiana and Mississippi. National sorrow, indignation, and rage at the conditions of life in New Orleans eventually receded into deep concern over the city’s continued existence, particularly the survival of the city’s rich and unique cultural life (Louisiana Rebirth2005: 4). One of the most significant ideas to come from this disaster is a nationwide popular and political opinion that “culture” is important and worth saving, the culture of New Orleans particularly so. This sentiment is even more remarkable given the apparent vagueness...

  10. CHAPTER 6 HURRICANE RITA AND THE NEW NORMAL Modified Communication and New Traditions in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes
    (pp. 166-186)

    “How’s your house?”

    “Okay. Yours?” Days, weeks, months after Hurricane Rita, this dialogue remained a familiar conversation starter in the areas of southwest Louisiana hardest hit by the storm. As they waited in line at the post office, gas station, or grocery store or returned to work or school, Calcasieu and Cameron Parish residents often encountered old friends, neighbors, schoolmates, or co-workers they had not seen since Hurricane Rita made landfall in late September 2005. Stuck in long, boring lines, people struck up conversations. When they did, they began them with this standardized greeting, a simple question about the status...

    (pp. 187-188)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 189-194)