Remaking New Orleans

Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity

Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: 8 illustrations Published: May 2019

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Sociology > Urban Studies

Approached as a wellspring of cultural authenticity and historical exceptionality, New Orleans appears in opposition to a nation perpetually driven by progress. Remaking New Orleans shows how this narrative is rooted in a romantic cultural tradition, continuously repackaged through the twin engines of tourism and economic development, and supported by research that has isolated the city from comparison and left unquestioned its entrenched inequality. Working against this feedback loop, the contributors place New Orleans at the forefront of national patterns of urban planning, place-branding, structural inequality, and racialization. Nontraditional sites like professional wrestling matches, middle-class black suburbs, and Vietnamese gardens take precedence over clichéd renderings of Creole cuisine, voodoo queens, and hot jazz. Covering the city's founding through its present and highlighting changing political and social formations, this volume remakes New Orleans as a rich site for understanding the quintessential concerns of American cities.

Contributors. Thomas Jessen Adams, Vincanne Adams, Vern Baxter, Maria Celeste Casati Allegretti, Shannon Lee Dawdy, Rien Fertel, Megan French-Marcelin, Cedric G. Johnson, Alecia P. Long, Vicki Mayer, Toby Miller, Sue Mobley, Marguerite Nguyen, Aaron Nyerges, Adolph Reed Jr., Helen A. Regis, Matt Sakakeeny, Heidi Schmalbach, Felipe Smith, Bryan Wagner


"Offering valuable insights into the history of the city and the oft-repeated musings of what makes New Orleans special or unique, Remaking New Orleans parses tourism, urban redevelopment, and the attendant myths, misconceptions, and impacts." — Andru Okun, Antigravity

"In a crowded field of New Orleans–centered, post-Katrina scholarship, Remaking New Orleans—albeit ironically—is a true standout. ... It would make a fitting text for an upper-year undergraduate seminar or graduate-level course on, for example, cities and neoliberalism." — Gregg Lightfoot, Journal of Southern History

“Adams and Sakakeeny’s Remaking New Orleans represents a remarkable collection of stories…. Topically, the volume enriches our historical geography of the city.”

— Eric Nost, Southeastern Geographer

“This is NOLA unmasked: a brave and unflinching critique of the myth of the Big Easy. In fact, as these essays argue so powerfully, no southern city is less at ease or more pervaded by class and racial tension.” — Mike Davis


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Thomas Jessen Adams is Lecturer in History and American Studies, Academic Director of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and coeditor of Working in the Big Easy: The History and Politics of Labor in New Orleans.

Matt Sakakeeny is Associate Professor of Music at Tulane University and author of Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: What Lies beyond Histories of Exceptionalism and Cultures of Authenticity / Thomas Jessen Adams, Sue Mobley, and Mat Sakekeeny  1
Part One. Constructing Exceptional New Orleans
1. La Catrina: The Mexican Specter of New Orleans / Shannon Lee Dawdy  35
2. Charles Gayarré and the Imagining of an Exceptional City: The Literary Roots of the Creole City / Rien Fertel  55
3. Phony City: Under the Skin of Authenticity / Aaron Nyerges  72
Part Two. Producing Authentic New Orleans
4. "Things You'd Imagine Zulu Tribes to Do": The Zulu Parade in New Orleans Carnival / Felipe Smith  93
5. The Saga of the Junkyard Dog / Bryan Wagner  117
6. Local, Native, Creole, Black: Claiming Belonging, Producing Autochthony / Helen A. Regis  138
7. The Contradictions of the Film Welfare Economy, or, For the Love of Treme / Vicki Mayer, Heidi Schmalbach, and Toby Miller  162
Part Three. What Is New Orleans Identity?
8. "Queers, Fairies, and Ne'er-Do-Wells": Rethinking the Notion of a Sexually Liberated New Orleans / Alecia P. Long  179
9. Building Black Suburbs in New Orleans / Vern Baxter and Maria Casati  199
10. Refugee Pastoralism: Vietnamese American Self-Representation in New Orleans / Marguerite Nguyen  219
Part Four. Predictive City?
11. Boosting the Private Sector: Federal Aid and Downtown Development in the 1970s / Megan French-Marcelin  241
12. What's Left for New Orleans? The People's Reconstruction and the Limits of Anarcho-Liberalism / Cedric G. Johnson  261
13. Neoliberal Futures: Post-Katrina New Orleans, Volunteers, and the Ongoing Allure of Exceptionalism / Vincanne Adams  288
14. The Myth of Authenticity and Its Impact on Politics—in New Orleans and Beyond / Adolph Reed Jr.  307
References  327
Contributors  351
Index  355
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0287-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0182-9
Publicity material