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Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina

Amy Koritz and George J. Sanchez, editors

Publication Year: 2009

Civic engagement has been underrated and overlooked. Koritz and Sanchez illuminate the power of what community engagement through art and culture revitalization can do to give voice to the voiceless and a sense of being to those displaced. ---Sonia BasSheva Mañjon, Wesleyan University "This profound and eloquent collection describes and assesses the new coalitions bringing a city back to life. It's a powerful call to expand our notions of culture, social justice, and engaged scholarship. I'd put this on my 'must read' list." ---Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University "Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina is a rich and compelling text for thinking about universities and the arts amid social crisis. Americans need to hear the voices of colleagues who were caught in Katrina's wake and who responded with commitment, creativity, and skill." ---Peter Levine, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) This collection of essays documents the ways in which educational institutions and the arts community responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. While firmly rooted in concrete projects, Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina also addresses the larger issues raised by committed public scholarship. How can higher education institutions engage with their surrounding communities? What are the pros and cons of "asset-based" and "outreach" models of civic engagement? Is it appropriate for the private sector to play a direct role in promoting civic engagement? How does public scholarship impact traditional standards of academic evaluation? Throughout the volume, this diverse collection of essays paints a remarkably consistent and persuasive account of arts-based initiatives' ability to foster social and civic renewal. Amy Koritz is Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Professor of English at Drew University. George J. Sanchez is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California. Front and rear cover designs, photographs, and satellite imagery processing by Richard Campanella. digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: The New Public Scholarship


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-18

ON AUGUST 29, 2005, THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS and the surrounding Gulf Coast region was hit by a monstrous hurricane named Katrina, which exposed the underlying racial and economic inequalities and public corruption that mark so many cities in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Over the next few days, as the rest of the United...

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pp. 19-22

WHEN I RETURNED TO NEW ORLEANS in January 2006, Richard Campanella was one of the First people I found at my university who was actively engaged in studying and supporting recovery efforts. As a geographer who is fascinated with the intersection of physical and cultural space, Rich had been cruising the city on his bicycle, counting business openings and doc-...

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“Bring Your Own Chairs” Civic Engagement in Postdiluvial New Orleans

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pp. 23-43

On the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s residual category 5 surge of Gulf of Mexico water penetrated a network of man-made navigation and drainage canals and inundated the heart of the sea-level-straddling New Orleans metropolis. It overtopped, undermined, or disintegrated certain levees and flood walls along those waterways, transforming the otherwise weakening category 2 or 3 wind event into a fatal deluge of unprecedented proportions. Nearly every...

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A Reciprocity of Tears Community Engagement after a Disaster

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pp. 44-58

ON AUGUST 29, 2005, HURRICANE KATRINA made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, bringing with it the pounding wind and rain that destroyed modest family homes and federal levees alike. Faced with unprecedented strains on infrastructure, public services, and emergency response resources, thousands of New Orleanians—often those too poor to flee the city as ...

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Not Since the Great Depression The Documentary Impulse Post-Katrina

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pp. 59-77

SHORTLY BEFORE KATRINA GRAZED NEW ORLEANS and touched off the levee failures that ruined the city, my wife and I hosted a small party for two couples with infants. Other families had provided our kids with a good deal of outgrown clothes and books, so we wanted to pass along these hand-me-downs, too. Following the flooding, one of those families left the city ...

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Another Evacuation Story

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pp. 78-84

Jeff ordered the chairs from a designer in Toronto, and the designer came with the chairs. Jeff had decided that the condo that he and Mark had owned for a long time needed furniture. On August 26, 2005, he went down to Perdido Key with the interior designer and started putting together furniture. Friday Jeff and the interior designer heard...

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pp. 85-88

THINKING ABOUT WHAT GOT DONE in the arts and culture sector of New Orleans in the year following the storm, I am reminded of one of the principles of open space—a meeting facilitation technique—which asserts “whoever shows up are the right people.” Distressingly few of these were university faculty members or administrators in the arts and humanities...

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The Vision Has Its Time: Culture and Civic Engagement in Postdisaster New Orleans

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pp. 89-100

IN 2005, THE AMERICAN PHENOMENON of postdisaster living was created by Hurricane Katrina. Shifting in status from category 4 to a category 5, Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico and caused catastrophic disaster all along the Gulf Coast. In New Orleans, the hurricane was a near miss. It had been ...

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How to Raise an Army (of Creative Young People)

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pp. 101-114

My name is Mat Schwarzman, and I am the founder of CREATIVE FORCES, an educational theater ensemble made up of New Orleans high school students and mentored by a team of adult teaching artists and schoolteachers. It’s been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina touched our shores and set off a wave of destructive events unprecedented in our nation’s history. Creative Forces’ four-year mission...

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The Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps: The Story of a Local CBO’s Response to Restoring Youth Programs in New Orleans after Katrina and Rita

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pp. 115-131

HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA hit New Orleans hard. Eighty percent of the city was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Rita resulted in a second evacuation and second flooding of parts of the city just as New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin began declaring sections of the city safe for residents to return. More than sixteen hundred city residents died from the...

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Welcoming the Newcomers: Civic Engagement Among Pre-Katrina Latinos

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pp. 132-146

EVEN AS NEW ORLEANS’ POPULATION has diminished overall, the absolute number of Latinos has increased as a result of the intense and sudden demand for construction workers to repair and rebuild the city.1 The new visibility of Latinos in New Orleans has sparked the civic spirit of many pre-Katrina Latinos as they seek to assist and assimilate the new arrivals....

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pp. 147-150

ON A PERSONAL LEVEL, this section tells the story of how I stopped worrying about whether I was still being an English professor. As a young assistant professor, I’d been through the exhilarating years of feminist theory, cultural studies, and transdisciplinary postcolonialism, a time when we all thought that reading and writing differently would have an enormous and...

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Cultural Policy and Living Culture in New Orleans after Katrina

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pp. 151-161

THE FIRST TIME I VISITED NEW ORLEANS, it rained. And rained and rained. I spent that visit feeling ratty, damp from inside out and outside in, sweaty and drenched. But for five soggy hours at the Funky Butt I listened, rapt,to Jason Marsalis (I think it was) play xylophone, sparkly little gumdrops of sound tossed out onto the dirty, puddled sidewalk. On departure day, the...

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HOME, New Orleans: University/Neighborhood Arts Collaborations

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pp. 162-184

HOME, New Orleans (HNO) is a neighborhood-based, arts-focused project that incorporates local organizations and residents; local artists, including HNO coinitiator Jan Gilbert of the VESTIGES Project; and students and faculty members from two historically black universities in New Or-leans, Xavier and Dillard, and two predominantly white ones, Tulane in New Orleans and New York University...

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Interview with Don Marshall, Executive Director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation

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pp. 185-201

AMY KORITZ: I’M HERE WITH DON MARSHALL, executive director of the Jazz and Heritage Foundation in New Orleans. Don, could you say a little about this organization? DON MARSHALL: I feel very fortunate to be the head of a major organization in New Orleans post-Katrina. The major mission of the Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation really is to promote, support, and ...

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Afterword: Civic Engagement Is a Language—What Can Universities Learn from Public Cultural Work in New Orleans?

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pp. 203-221

LIKE AMY KORITZ, coeditor of this volume, I am a literary scholar by training and inclination, a writer of articles and books, a close reader, a cultural historian of print and the word. Koritz explains that her contributions to this volume tell “the story of how I stopped worrying about whether I was still being an English professor.” “It was becoming clear to me,” she writes, “well before disaster struck...


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pp. 223-229


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pp. 231-240

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024483
E-ISBN-10: 0472024485
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472033522
Print-ISBN-10: 0472033522

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 12 B&W photographs
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: The New Public Scholarship
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OCLC Number: 530027737
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • New Orleans (La.) -- Cultural policy.
  • New Orleans (La.) -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • Hurricane Katrina, 2005 -- Social aspects -- Louisiana -- New Orleans.
  • New Orleans (La.) -- Intellectual life -- 21st century.
  • Community life -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 21st century.
  • Disaster relief -- Social aspects -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 21st century.
  • City and town life -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 21st century.
  • Political participation -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 21st century.
  • New Orleans (La.) -- Social life and customs -- 21st century.
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