Katrina 10

New Orleans in the Atlantic world, that would be the course for me to give. There is this, but there is also much to say about things Spanish. I suppose I could allow research papers on topics such as “Sidney Bechet in Paris,” and here is Bechet’s complete discography.

There is so much reporting on this tenth anniversary. I do not have time to read everything but I am heartened to see that not all of the reporting is as celebratory of the so-called recovery as was Obama’s speech.

Here is one example, from Aljazeera, and here is another, from Diane Ravitch.


10 thoughts on “Katrina 10

  1. Try this, too:

    Amid this so-called rebirth of New Orleans, artists and young urban redevelopment professionals have flooded into New Orleans to defend, and partake in, the “city authentic.”

    In a place where cultural authenticity has been traded and sold at a premium for nearly a century this phenomenon seems almost natural. Tourism is central to the New Orleans’s economy, and the mythologizing of local culture — of brass bands, gumbo, and Mardi Gras Indians — has long been cultivated for the market by public-private corporations.

    In the years after Hurricane Katrina, cultural commodification has been extended to the business of rebuilding and preserving the city’s unique customs. Transplant communities, exemplified most conspicuously by Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s younger sister), have effectively taken up the mantle of a grassroots cultural reclamation: renovating historic shotguns, opening stores with local wares, and engaging the tradition of second lines for private events.

    The appeal of this vibrant rebuilding effort is in its reproduction of a bourgeois bohemian paradise. However, excavated cultural authenticity offers less of an opportunity to rebuild the working class it claims to reflect (that would take jobs, housing, and a commitment to public services), and more a means to commodify culture anew.

    Such activities also belie the public-private collusion — incentivized and exclusionary zoning, aid that privileges homeowners over renters, and public funds diverted to speculative projects — that produces the culture that is then articulated as spontaneous and authentic.


  2. I guess it’s the best we can do. We have no gift for bringing back the dead except as zombies. I hope this doesn’t sound too far out. I’m thinking of Maya Lin and her projects, her rethinking of the past. Can we change the past for the better? Or can we only make a horror show or grotesque carnival out of disaster and destruction?

    The first downpours from the hurricane have started up here. May we be spared!

  3. To put it another way, it’s all very well, but it isn’t real. That’s what my friend Mary, who grew up in New Orleans, would say.

  4. Now that I have read the article carefully, I am totally disillusioned. This trend is unstoppable. Zombie culture has won.

      1. I watched two episodes and then gave up on it. It’s too depressing.

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