Re-visioning Katrina: Exploring Gender in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans
Skelley, Chelsea Atkins
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I argue that to understand the gender dynamics of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, and the stormâ s aftermath, one must interrogate the cultural conflation of the black female body and the cityâ s legacy to explore what it means and how it situates real black women in social, cultural, and physical landscapes. Using a hybrid theoretical framework informed by Black feminist theory, ecocriticism, critical race feminism, and post-positivist realism, I explore the connections between New Orleansâ cultural and historical discourses that gender the city as feminine, more specifically as a black woman or Jezebel, with narratives of real black females to illustrate the impact that dominant discourses have on peopleâ s lives. I ground this work in Black feminism, specifically Hortense Spillersâ s and Patricia Hill Collinsâ s works that center the black female body to garner a fuller understanding of social systems, KimberlÃ© Crenshawâ s concept of intersectionality, and Evelyn Hammondsâ s call for a reclamation of the body to interrogate the ideologies that inscribe black women. In addition, I argue that black women should reclaim New Orleansâ metaphorical black body and interrogate this history to move forward in rebuilding the city. As an ecocritic and feminist, I understand the tension involved with reading a city as feminine and arguing for this reclamation, as this echoes colonial and imperialist discourses of conquering land and bodies, but I negotiate these tensions by specifically examining the discourse itself to expose the sexist and racist ideologies at work.
- Masters Theses