Argues that post-Katrina New Orleans is a key site for exploring competing narratives of American decline and renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Through the lens provided by the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, After Katrina argues that the city of New Orleans emerges as a key site for exploring competing narratives of US decline and renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Deploying an interdisciplinary approach to explore cultural representations of the post-storm city, Anna Hartnell suggests that New Orleans has been reimagined as a laboratory for a racialized neoliberalism, and as such might be seen as a terminus of the American dream. This US disaster zone has unveiled a network of social and environmental crises that demonstrate that prospects of social mobility have dwindled as environmental degradation and coastal erosion emerge as major threats not just to the quality of life but to the possibility of life in coastal communities across America and the world. And yet After Katrina also suggests that New Orleans culture offers a way of thinking about the United States in terms that transcend the binary of national renewal or declension. The post-Hurricane city thus emerges as a flashpoint for reflecting on the contemporary United States.
Anna Hartnell is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, and the author of Rewriting Exodus: American Futures from Du Bois to Obama.
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