“Before the Storm”: Hurricane Katrina, the BP Oil Spill, and the Challenges to Racial Hierarchies in Rural Louisiana

in Nature and Culture
Restricted access

Abstract

By conceptualizing the recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill as forming part of ongoing processes of “becoming” and the everyday, this article explores how the relative power of a historically privileged group of White males in rural Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, faced significant challenge. First, through the breakdown of informal racial segregation in local social institutions, and through the newly ubiquitous nature of mobile homes threatening their rejection of “trailer trash” culture. Second, however, this impact must be understood within ongoing changes across wider American society, where a locally valorized ideal of normative 1950s culture was seen to be in conflict with the civil rights and feminist movements of the late twentieth century. This imagined cultural hegemony was therefore in serious decline long before these catastrophes, yet has now been confined to the time “before the Storm.”

Contributor Notes

Seumas Bates has a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Glasgow. His PhD research was on the cultural recovery from two major catastrophes (Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill) in a context where smaller disasters were somewhat normalized. He has presented papers at EASA, IUAES, and the RAI, and currently co-convenes the international Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. Address: Department of Sociology, Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom.

E-mail: seumas.bates@gmail.com

  • AdamsJane and D. Gorton. 2006. “Confederate Lane: Class, Race, and Ethnicity in the Mississippi Delta”. American Ethnologist 33(2): 288309.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BourgoisPhillipe and Jeff Schonberg. 2007. “Intimate Apartheid: Ethnic Dimensions of Habitus among Homeless Heroin Injectors”. Ethnography 8(1): 731.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BreunlinRachel and Helen A. Regis. 2006. “Putting the Ninth Ward on the Map: Race, Place, and Transformation in Desire, New Orleans”. American Anthropologist 108(4): 744764.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ButtonGregory. 2010. Disaster Culture; Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Catastrophe. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CannonTerry and Lisa Schipper eds. 2014. World Disasters Report 2014: Focus on Culture and Risk. Geneva: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChangStephanie E. 2010. “Urban Disaster Recovery: A Measurement Framework And Its Application To The 1995 Kobe Earthquake”. Disasters 34(2): 303327.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ConnellRaewyn. 2005. “Change among the Gatekeepers: Men, Masculinities, and Gender Equality in the Global Arena”. Signs 30(3): 18011825.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CutterSusan L.Christopher T. EmrichJerry T. MitchellWalter W. PiegorschMark M. Smith and Lynn Weber. 2014. Hurricane Katrina and the Forgotten Coast of Mississippi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DarlingEliza Jane. 2009. “Of Reds and Rednecks: Response to Ed Hansen and Herman Rebel”. Dialectical Anthropology 33(1): 4147.

  • DysonMichael E. 2006. Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Philadelphia, PA: Basic Civitas.

  • ElliottJames and Jeremy Pais. 2006. “Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina: Social Differences in Human Responses to Disaster”. Social Science Research 35(2): 295321.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • EnarsonElaine. 1999. “Violence Against Women in Disasters: A Study of Domestic Violence Programs in the United States and Canada”. Violence Against Women 5(7): 742768.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FothergillAlice. 2004. Heads Above Water: Gender Class and Family in the Grand Forks Flood. New York: SUNY Press.

  • HageGhasson. 2000. White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society. London: Routledge.

  • HarndenToby. 2011. “Barack Obama is ‘greatest threat to US,’ says Rick Perry”. The Telegraph. 16 August. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/8705158/Barack-Obama-is-greatest-threat- to-US-says-Rick-Perry.html (accessed 7 November 2016)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HartiganJohn. (1992) “Reading trash: Deliverance and the Poetics of White TrashVisual Anthropology Review8:2: 815.

  • HartiganJohn. 1997. “Unpopular Culture: The Case of ‘White Trash.’Cultural Studies 11(2): 316343.

  • HoffmanSusanna. 1999. “The Worst of Times, The Best of Times: Towards a Model of Cultural Response to Disaster”. In The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective ed. Anthony Oliver-Smith and Susanna Hoffman pp. 134155. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HoffmanSusanna and Anthony Oliver-Smith. 2002. “Introduction: Why Anthropologists Should Study Disasters”. In Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster ed. Susanna Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith pp. 322. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HopeElanAlexandra Skoog and Robert Jagers. 2015. “‘It’ll Never Be the White Kids, It’ll Always Be Us’: Black High School Students’ Evolving Critical Analysis of Racial Discrimination and Inequality in Schools”. Journal of Adolescent Research 30(1): 83112.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HurleyAndrew. 2001 Diners Bowling Alleys and Trailer Parks: Chasing the American Dream in the Postwar Consumer Culture. New York: Basic Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • IngoldTim. 2011. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge.

  • Ispa-LandaSimone and Jordan Conwell. 2015. “Once You Go to a White School, You Kind of Adapt: Black Adolescents and the Racial Classification of Schools”. Sociology of Education 88(1): 119.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JacksonAntoinette. 2011. “Diversifying the Dialogue Post-Katrina: Race, Place, and Displacement in New Orleans, U.S.A”. Transforming Anthropology 19(1): 316.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JeansonneGlen. 1977. Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

  • JenkinsPamela and Brenda Phillips. 2008. “Domestic Violence and Hurricane Katrina”. Katrina and the Women of New Orleans ed. Elizabeth Willinger pp. 6569. New Orleans, LA: Newcomb College Center for Research on Women.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JuhaszAntonia. 2011. Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill. New York: Wiley.

  • JuranLuke. 2012. “The Gendered Nature of Disasters: Women Survivors in Post-Tsunami Tamil Nadu”. Indian Journal of Gender Studies 19(1): 129.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LindisfarneNancy and Jonathan Neale. 2013. “Gender for the 99 percent”. Anthropology Today 29(5): 1316.

  • LipsitzGeorge. 2006. “Learning from New Orleans: The Social Warrant of Hostile Privatism and Competitive Consumer Citizenship”. Cultural Anthropology 21(3): 451468.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MeyerJ. Ben. 1981. Plaquemines: The Empire Parish. Belle Chase, LA: Laborde.

  • National Research Council. 2006. Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver-SmithAnthony. 2002. “Theorizing Disasters: Nature, Power, and Culture”. In Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster ed. Susanna Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith pp. 2348. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PaxtonPamela and Anthony Mughan. 2006. “What’s to Fear from Immigrants? Creating an Assimilationist Threat Scale”. Political Psychology 27(4): 549568.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PicouJ. Steven and Kenneth Hudson. 2010. “Hurricane Katrina and Mental Health: A Research Note on Mississippi Gulf Coast Residents”. Sociological Inquiry 80(3): 513524.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PutnamRobert. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

  • QuarantelliEnrico. 1996. “Just as a Disaster Is Not Simply a Big Accident, So a Catastrophe Is Not Just a Bigger Disaster”. Journal of the American Society of Professional Emergency Planners 3: 6871.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RodríguezDylan. 2007. “The Meaning of ‘Disaster’ under the Dominance of White Life”. In What Lies Beneath: Katrina Race and the State of the Nation ed. The South End Press Collective pp. 133156. Boston, MA: South End Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SalaamKalamu Ya. 2007. “Below the Water Line”. In What Lies Beneath: Katrina Race and the State of the Nation ed. The South End Press Collective pp. 133156. Boston, MA: South End Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TierneyKathleen. 2008. “Hurricane Katrina: Catastrophic Impacts and Alarming Lessons”. In Risking House and Home: Disasters Cities Public Policy ed. John Quigley and Larry Rosenthal pp. 119138. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Public Policy Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TierneyKathleen and Anthony Oliver-Smith. 2012. “Social Dimensions of Disaster Recovery”. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disaster 30(2): 123146.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WiegmanRobyn. 1995. American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • WilsonZara Jacqueline. 2002. “Invisible Racism: The Language and Ontology of ‘White Trash.’Critique of Anthropology 22(4): 387401.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WrayMatt. 2006. Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 4 4 1
PDF Downloads 5 5 3