The Neoliberal Deluge
Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism, and the Remaking of New Orleans
Publication Year: 2011
Katrina was not just a hurricane. The death, destruction, and misery wreaked on New Orleans cannot be blamed on nature’s fury alone. This volume of essays locates the root causes of the 2005 disaster squarely in neoliberal restructuring and examines how pro-market reforms are reshaping life, politics, economy, and the built environment in New Orleans.
The authors—a diverse group writing from the disciplines of sociology, political science, education, public policy, and media theory—argue that human agency and public policy choices were more at fault for the devastation and mass suffering experienced along the Gulf Coast than were sheer forces of nature. The harrowing images of flattened homes, citizens stranded on rooftops, patients dying in makeshift hospitals, and dead bodies floating in floodwaters exposed the moral and political contradictions of neoliberalism—the ideological rejection of the planner state and the active promotion of a new order of market rule.
Many of these essays offer critical insights on the saga of postdisaster reconstruction. Challenging triumphal narratives of civic resiliency and universal recovery, the authors bring to the fore pitched battles over labor rights, gender and racial justice, gentrification, the development of city master plans, the demolition of public housing, policing, the privatization of public schools, and roiling tensions between tourism-based economic growth and neighborhood interests. The contributors also expand and deepen more conventional critiques of “disaster capitalism” to consider how the corporate mobilization of philanthropy and public good will are remaking New Orleans in profound and pernicious ways.
Contributors: Barbara L. Allen, Virginia Polytechnic U; John Arena, CUNY College of Staten Island; Adrienne Dixson, Ohio State U; Eric Ishiwata, Colorado State U; Avis Jones-Deweever, National Council of Negro Women; Chad Lavin, Virginia Polytechnic U; Paul Passavant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Linda Robertson, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Chris Russill, Carleton U; Kanchana Ruwanpura, U of Southampton; Nicole Trujillo-Pagán, Wayne State U; Geoffrey Whitehall, Acadia U.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Preface: “Obama’s Katrina”
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This is a book about disaster. In the most immediate sense, the essays gathered here explore the unique causes and impacts of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. Th e massive category 3 storm precipitated cata-strophic levee failures, fl ooding, and social misery in New Orleans and transformed the demographic character of the city, leaving it whiter, wealth-ier, and less populous than it was before. At the level of theory, this is a book ...
Introduction: The Neoliberal Deluge
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Hurricane Gustav in 2008 was the fi rst 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 ...
Part I. Governance
1. From Tipping Point to Meta-Crisis: Management, Media, and Hurricane Katrina
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And in my opinion, it’s the responsibility of faith-based organizations, Political discourse teems with crisis. Oft en, this is hyperbolic and opportunistic rhetoric mobilized in the service of a particu-lar agenda or a media strategy to increase ratings. Sometimes, as during the fi rst days of September 2005, when much of New Orleans lay be-neath water, and when thousands of the most vulnerable residents were ...
2. “We Are Seeing People We Didn’t Know Exist”: Katrina and the Neoliberal Erasure of Race
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On September 1, 2005, four days aft er Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Jim Lehrer interviewed Michael Brown (then-director of FEMA) on PBS’s NewsHour. Five minutes into the interview, aft er 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 ...
3. Making Citizens in Magnaville: Katrina Refugees and Neoliberal Self-Governance
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I am not a “refugee.” I wasn’t shipped here. . . . We are not refugees. You hold your head up. We are United States Citizens, and you be proud of that. A lot of us are taxpaying, honest, hardworking people. I’m like, when did I come fr om another country? Th at’s what they used to call people that was in the boats, and that was sneaking over ...
Part II. Urbanity
4. Mega-Events, the Superdome, and the Return of the Repressed in New Orleans
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Hurricane Katrina puts before us once more the question of the state and neoliberalism.1 Th e contemporary state is represented in contradictory ways. Th e 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 ...
5. Whose Choice? A Critical Race Perspective on Charter Schools
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...a lifetime. . . . Th is is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We must not In fall 2005, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco signed into law Legislative Act 35 (LA 35), which gave the state power to con-trol 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 ...
6. Black and White, Unite and Fight? Identity Politics and New Orleans’s Post-Katrina Public Housing Movement
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Th ose who oppose neoliberalization must do more than merely point to its contradictions. . . . We must also fi nd and make known the resistance that is already taking place. . . . We must understand and learn fr om their experiences, and we must contribute to their success.In his provocative essay, “Why Is Th ere No Black Political Movement?” political scientist Adolph Reed defi nes a political movement as a “force ...
Part III. Planning
7. Charming Accommodations: Progressive Urbanism Meets Privatization in Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation
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And if the levees had just been built right the fi rst time, with respect for the people who lived amongst them . . . if they’d just practiced a litt le preventative medicine and spent a litt le more, well then we wouldn’t be faced with the tens of billions it is costing to fi x it today. But that didn’t happen. And we have to fi x it. And not make the ...
8. Laboratorization and the “Green” Rebuilding of New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward
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In the days and months following the fl ooding from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August 2005, no neighborhood received more coverage than the destruction of the Lower Ninth Ward. Aft er the storm, the fl oodwall separating the neighborhood from a navigable indus-trial 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 ...
9. Squandered Resources? Grounded Realities of Recovery in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka
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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 litt le peculiar because between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. on August 29, 2005, the television news had not par-...
Part IV. Inequality
10. How Shall We Remember New Orleans? Comparing News Coverage of Post-Katrina New Orleans and the 2008 Midwest Floods
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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, ...
11. The Forgotten Ones: Black Women in the Wake of Katrina
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For most Americans, the horrors of Katrina have devolved into noth-ing more than a sad, but distant memory. We have writt en our checks, said our prayers, and, if we were especially generous, volunteered a few days or weeks of our time toward rebuilding eff orts. Yet, for many who call home the various cities, towns, and vast rural stretches all along the Gulf Coast that felt fi rsthand the wrath of Katrina, the daily struggle to reclaim ...
12. Hazardous Constructions: Mexican Immigrant Masculinity and the Rebuilding of New Orleans
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For a couple of weeks, media images of New Orleans fl ooded tele-vision 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. Th ose who returned to the city were joined by other Latinos who took on work and participated in eff orts to rebuild the city. Having largely ...
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Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2011