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Weathering Katrina

Culture and Recovery among Vietnamese Americans

Mark J. VanLandingham

Publication Year: 2017

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Most Vietnamese-American residents lived in a remote, low-income are that flooded badly. Many arrived decades earlier as refugees from the Vietnam War and were marginally fluent in English. Yet, despite these odds, the Vietnamese made a surprisingly strong comeback in the wake of the flood. In Weathering Katrina, public health scholar Mark VanLandingham analyzes their path to recovery, and examines the extent to which culture helped them cope during this crisis.
 
Combining longitudinal survey data and interviews with Vietnamese residents, VanLandingham finds that on the principal measures of disaster recovery—housing stability, economic stability, health, and social adaptation—the Vietnamese community fared better than other communities. By Katrina’s one-year anniversary, almost 90 percent of the Vietnamese had returned to their neighborhood, higher than the rate of return for either blacks or whites. They also showed lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than other groups. And by the second year after the flood, the employment rate for the Vietnamese had returned to its pre-Katrina level.
 
While some commentators initially attributed this resilience to cultural traits unique to the Vietnamese, VanLandingham shows how multiple factors fostered their rapid recovery. First, these immigrants were highly selected—those who settled in New Orleans were wealthier and in better physical health than those who stayed in Vietnam. Also, as a small, tightly knit community, the New Orleans Vietnamese could pass on information about job leads, business prospects, and other opportunities to one another. Finally, they had access to a number of special programs that were intended to facilitate recovery among immigrants, and enjoyed a positive social image in New Orleans, which motivated some people and charities to offer the community additional resources. In sum, their successful recovery depended less on their specific cultural values than on a combination of several material and social advantages and a shared sense of identity.
 
By disentangling the elements that enabled the swift recovery of the Vietnamese in New Orleans, Weathering Katrina enriches our understanding of this understudied immigrant community.
 

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Quotations

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

About the Author

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pp. xi-xii

Acknowledgments

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pp. xii-xiv

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Foreword

Carl L. Bankston III

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pp. xv-xx

I first met Mark VanLandingham in early 2000, when he was a new faculty member in Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Mark already had broad experience in studying the mental and physical health of Southeast Asian populations, in Southeast Asia and in the United States, and he was interested in the Vietnamese community of New Orleans, ...

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Introduction: Why Are the Vietnamese Doing So Well?

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pp. 1-5

About a year after the Katrina disaster, I was in eastern New Orleans with one of my doctoral students conducting health interviews that provide part of the empirical basis for this book. Things were not going well for me. Our home had flooded and our insurance companies had dug in their heels, ..

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Chapter 1. Who Are These People? A Brief History of Vietnamese New Orleanians

with Hongyun Fu

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pp. 6-24

To bind together a diverse people requires an “imagined community.”1 In times of normalcy and especially in times of crisis, a populace requires a unifying, shared, and compelling narrative to hold itself together, suspend self-interest, and make possible the pursuit of common aims. Such narratives are of course anchored by actual historical events and other facts, ...

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Chapter 2. Data, Methods, and Research Strategy

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pp. 25-34

Assessments of well-being both for immigrants and for survivors of disasters such as Katrina share formidable methodological challenges. Rare attempts to assess how immigrants fare after disasters are especially difficult because these challenges of assessing the well-being of immigrants and of disaster survivors are often mutually reinforcing. ...

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Chapter 3. Why Are the Vietnamese Doing So Well? A Framework and Assessment of Postdisaster Recovery

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pp. 35-46

In the previous chapter, I pointed out many of the difficult challenges involved in the empirical assessment of postdisaster well-being, especially those related to the after-the-fact cross-sectional data that are typically available to make these assessments. Fortunately—and mostly by chance—the pre-Katrina wave of our study mitigates some (but not all) of these empirical shortcomings. ...

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Chapter 4. Why Are the Vietnamese Doing So Well? Explaining Differences in Postdisaster Recovery

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pp. 47-54

Two major related themes within the disaster-research literature are that some populations are more affected than others; and that rates of recovery vary across populations.1 By recovery, most disaster researchers have in mind one or more of the five dimensions specified in the socio-ecological model of recovery (SMR) ...

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Chapter 5. Why Are the Vietnamese Doing So Well? Culture and Its Confounders

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pp. 55-68

Decision-making in a postdisaster context—or any other—involves structure and agency. By structure, social scientists mean how the uneven distribution of economic, social, knowledge, and cultural resources (often referred to as different kinds of capital) expand or constrain the array of options available to individuals to choose from. ...

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Chapter 6. Cultural—and Noncultural—Influences on the Recovery of the Vietnamese American Community in Post-Katrina New Orleans

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pp. 69-93

In this chapter, I describe the ways in which cultural and noncultural features of social structure facilitated the recovery of the Vietnamese community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. To underpin these descriptions, I draw on several sources of empirical evidence, including statistical analyses of well-being among Vietnamese Americans and other groups. ...

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Chapter 7. Summary and Conclusions: Why Are the Vietnamese Doing So Well?

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pp. 94-106

Many observers of the post-Katrina landscape in New Orleans have speculated that the Vietnamese community is faring better than others similarly affected by that disaster. Brisk traffic, bustling restaurants, and a sense of presence and tidiness as one drives through the principal enclave in eastern New Orleans give the impression of resurgence. ...

Notes

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pp. 107-118

References

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pp. 119-136

Index

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pp. 137-146


E-ISBN-13: 9781610448642
E-ISBN-10: 1610448642
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871548726
Print-ISBN-10: 0871548720

Page Count: 166
Publication Year: 2017

OCLC Number: 974947635
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Weathering Katrina