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Art Professor Lewis Watts presents at Ruhr-University Conference: After the Storm, the Cultural Politics of Hurricane Katrina

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 8:00 am to Sat, Dec 7, 2013, 8:00 am

The conference will take place from 6-7 December, 2013 at Kulturzentrum Bahnhof Langendreer in Bochum, Germany.


It has been nearly eight years since Hurricane Katrina destroyed large parts of the US Golf region and caused a breach of the New Orleans levee system, which resulted inthe flooding of 80 per cent of the city. The storm and subsequent flood had devastating consequences for the mostly black and poor residents who stayed in thecity. The failure of the US government to provide fast and efficient help and the media coverage of New Orleans after the levee breach proved the idea of a post-racial America wrong. Instead, American society appeared to be still clearly divided along the categories of race and class.

Immediately after the storm, and during the past eight years, the ways in which Hurricane Katrina affected the Golf region, New Orleans, and the American nation have been negotiated in a growing number of cultural productions. We would like to ask how particular textual and narrative strategies relate to the political discourses surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Prominent interventions into these discourses have been made by Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke (2006), Josh Neufeld’s webcomic A.D. After the Deluge (2007-2009), Dave Eggers’s book Zeitoun (2009), David Simon’s TV-show Tremé (premiered 2009), Jesmyn Ward’s novel Salvage the Bones (2011), and Benh Zeitlin’s film Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012).

In addition to analyses of texts of all media and genres, we welcome contributions on topics such as urban development, planning and architecture (e.g.Common GroundMake It Right), tourism (e.g. Hurricane Katrina Tours), or regional cultural expressions (e.g. Mardi Gras, Second Line Parades). Moreover, we are interested in papers that are not directly focused on New Orleans, but address how rural areas were affected by the storm. We would also like to revisit debates about identity, creolization and hybridity, the legacy of slavery, and the intersectionality of race, class and other categories of difference (gender, sexuality, age, disability) in debates about Katrina and its aftermaths.