Special Issue of the Journal of American History: Through the Eye of Katrina ... The Past as Prologue?

Historians in the News

SPECIAL ISSUE: Through the Eye of Katrina: The Past as Prologue?

Guest Editors: Lawrence N. Powell and Clarence L. Mohr

This special issue grew out of a multidisciplinary conference held in March 2007. The issue and the conference were created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to examine the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Because we are so little removed in time from Katrina's 2005 landfall, the essays cannot, and do not, fully historicize the events surrounding the storm. They are intended instead to play a part in the writing of a "second draft" of this history.

The essays range widely, both chronologically and topically. They encompass urban, environmental, architectural, and musical history, as well as analyses of politics in three centuries and of carnival as a shaper of world views. The goal of the contributors is to provide a historical basis for thinking about Katrina's impact, a way to measure its significance from many perspectives.


The Journal of American History has created a companion online project for this special issue. The project features explanatory essays and several interactive graphic elements to enhance understanding of the print articles and of changes in New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina.



"An Introduction," by Clarence L. Mohr and Lawrence N. Powell

"Boundary Issues: Clarifying New Orleans's Murky Edges," by Ari Kelman

"An Ethnic Geography of New Orleans," by Richard Campanella

"New Orleans Architecture: Building Renewal," by Karen Kingsley

"The Atlantic World and the Road to Plessy v. Ferguson," by Rebecca J. Scott

"The Political Construction of a Natural Disaster: The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853," by Henry M. McKiven Jr.

"The Politics of Poverty and History: Racial Inequality and the Long Prelude to Katrina," by Kent B. Germany

"Fade to Black: Hurricane Katrina and the Disappearance of Creole New Orleans," by Arnold R. Hirsch

"Water in Sacred Places: Rebuilding New Orleans Black Churches as Sites of Community Empowerment," by Donald E. DeVore

"Resilient History and the Rebuilding of a Community: The Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans East," by Karen J. Leong, Christopher A. Airriess, Wei Li, Angela Chia-Chen Chen, and Verna M. Keith

"The Post-Katrina, Semiseparate World of Gender Politics," by Pamela Tyler

"Carnival and Katrina," by Reid Mitchell

"Poverty Is the New Prostitution: Race, Poverty, and Public Housing in Post-Katrina New Orleans," by Alecia P. Long

"The Disneyfication of New Orleans: The French Quarter as Facade in a Divided City," by J. Mark Souther

"'They're Tryin' to Wash Us Away': New Orleans Musicians Surviving Katrina," by Bruce Boyd Raeburn

"Reflections of an Authentic Jazz Life in Pre-Katrina New Orleans," by Michael G. White

"The Mourning After: Languages of Loss and Grief in Post-Katrina New Orleans," by Marline Otte

"'The Forgotten People of New Orleans': Community, Vulnerability, and the Lower Ninth Ward," by Juliette Landphair

"Constructing New Orleans, Constructing Race: A Population History of New Orleans," by Elizabeth Fussell

"After the Storms: Tradition and Change in Bayou La Batre," by Frye Gaillard

"What Does American History Tell Us about Katrina and Vice Versa?," by Lawrence N. Powell

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