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New Orleans : The Post-Katrina Years

How to keep track of a city’s recovery after an environmental catastrophe ? Metropolitics sheds light on some of the collective actions that have fed debates and helped the inhabitants rebuild New Orleans after the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Catastrophes are a common topic of social research as they expose crucial and often revolting aspects of our modern societies (see the focus in Books and ideas). Katrina, the Hurricane that almost wiped out New Orleans in late August 2005, is no exception. It lead to many histories, descriptions and analyses of what went wrong, which have shed a rather crude light on the unequal vulnerability of different segments of the population (race and class) to environmental disaster.

However, the protracted and conflicted recovery process has been less studied. Indeed, for a few years, the future of the city was in doubt. Should it even be rebuilt ? Today, according to the 2009 census, New Orleans Parish population is 354,850 or 78% of its pre-Katrina level of 455,188 (for more on NOLA demographics since 2005, see here). The city is smaller but it is back.

The articles selected here, book excerpts and original essays, are drawn from a conference organized by Samuel Bordreuil at the Maison méditérranénenne des sciences de l’homme in April 2011 entitled "Learning from New Orleans post-Katrina : collective action, public policy and societal responses to environmental vulnerabilities." The authors attempt to identify interesting phenomenon that have played a role in the debates and collective actions led by New Orleanians. Some are reinterpretations of questions as old as the city, as Richard Campanella shows, while others are exploratory innovations born out of the uncertainty of a post-catastrophic period. Some are hopeful testimonies to the creative power of inhabitants while others reveal more contestable agendas.

Articles in this series :

Also published in Metropolitics :

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Pour citer cet article :

Jean Samuel Bordreuil & Stéphane Tonnelat, “New Orleans : The Post-Katrina Years”, Métropolitiques, 25 mai 2011. URL :

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