Hurricane Katrina was identified by a host of commentators as a 'teachable moment', one that somehow held lessons not just for the Gulf South but for the rest of the United States. These lessons were variously understood as relating to racialized poverty, decaying infrastructure and an ideology of neglect - a picture that seemed to point to the failure of the US as a utopian project. One of the limitations of early political, news media and scholarly commentary on Katrina was the idea that it had illuminated a specifically national tragedy, one that emanated from a past that might not be as distinct from the present as we like to imagine. While this viewpoint contains important insights, it also forecloses on the global resonances of the storm and the ways in which Katrina and its aftermath might be deployed to think about the future. The future is now a hotly contested topic in post-Katrina New Orleans and this conference proposes to bring together scholars and those working beyond the academy in order to address a temporal category that poses particular challenges to academic scholarship.
This one-day conference, hosted by Tulane's New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, is part of a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK, entitled ‘After Katrina: Projecting racial, transnational and environmental futures beyond the American Century’. This project is run by Anna Hartnell from Birkbeck, University of London, who is a visiting scholar at Tulane in autumn 2013, and whose research is attempting to locate post-Katrina New Orleans within larger national and international debates about the changing status of the United States in the twenty-first century. The conference seeks to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars - working across the arts, cultural studies, geography, environmental studies, architecture, law, etc. - and artists, activists and organizers in New Orleans and the region, to explore the ways in which global perspectives on Katrina might open up new ways of envisaging the futures of the Gulf South.
Alongside two keynote talks by Richard Campanella and Kalamu ya Salaam, the conference will consist of three roundtable discussions which will establish a dialogue between participants and the audience, on the following intersecting themes:
- Art after Katrina
- Organizing and activism after the storm
- Post-Katrina Futures
If you would like any more information about this conference please contact Anna Hartnell, email@example.com.
The conference will be of interest to those interested in the following discussions:
- Approaches to rebuilding, reconstructing and re-imagining New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
- Communal and artistic responses to Katrina and its aftermath.
- Aesthetic and cultural representations of post-Katrina New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (musical, literary, cinematic, visual, etc.).
- Post-Katrina politics and human rights: race, class, and the 'right of return'.
- Post-Katrina New Orleans and tourism.
- Post-Katrina citizen engagement and democratic traditions.
- Transnational and environmental implications of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
- Katrina and the larger national framework.
- Katrina and New Orleans cultural history.
- Temporal constructions of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast: past, present, future.
When & Where
Lecturer in Contemporary Literature in the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London.