Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dispatches from the Latin American Studies Association International Congress in Peru

By Kerry Webb, Senior Editor


Recently, my colleague Inés ter Horst and I attended the 2017 Latin American Studies Association meeting in Lima, Peru. We quickly got into the swim of things with a walk along the famed Malencón, situated on the edge of cliffs overlooking beautiful views of the beaches of Lima and the Pacific Ocean, and a lunch of some delicious ceviche. To set up our book exhibit, after lunch we made our way to Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, the site for most of the panels at the conference and which was also celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the city, it was hard not to be constantly reminded of the deep and rich history of Lima and Peru, from the archaeological sites of many little-known, pre-Incan civilizations to Lima’s unique history as a colonial stronghold of the Spanish Empire in South America. In fact, there was an Incan site right on the edge of campus and adjacent to the book exhibit hall. When I asked one of our authors who was from Lima what it was, he said that it was one of the Incan roads that was part of a massive transportation network that stretched the length of the Incan Empire at it’s height, from Colombia all the way down to Chile and Argentina.


It was the perfect place to showcase our books, including several recent additions to the list that are focused on Peruvian and Andean studies such as The Peculiar Revolution: Rethinking the Peruvian Experiment Under Military Rule, Kevin Young’s Blood of the Earth: Resource Nationalism, Revolution, and Empire in Boliva, and Gary Urton’s Inka History in Knots: Reading Khipus as Primary Sources. We were also happy to learn that three of our recent books won major awards at LASA: Barbara Mundy’s The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, The Life of Mexico City won the Bryce-Wood award and Mark Christensen’s book The Teabo Manuscript: Mayan Christian Copybooks, Chilam Balams, and Native Text Production in Yucatan won the Mexico section’s award, while Inez Hernandez-Avila and Norma Cantú’s anthology of Tejana cultural production Entre Guadalupe Y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art won the prize for the Latino studies section, further highlighting published work from other important parts of our publishing lists for LASA.


This conference is always a special opportunity to meet with current and potential authors, and we were especially pleased to be one of the US presses that were able to showcase our books and meet with authors, many of whom reside outside of the States, at a conference that, more than ever, has a truly international flavor.


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Call for Papers - The Velvet Light Trap Issue #82

Media Dialogues


Submission deadline: August 1, 2017


In The Dialogic Imagination, Mikhail Bakhtin posits that media are dialogic—that is, constantly in conversation with one another, relating to each other and altering each other. In contrast to dialectic paradigms, the dialogic doesn’t seek a closed resolution, but rather encourages communication as an ongoing process. For the 82nd issue of The Velvet Light Trap, the editorial board seeks submissions focusing on media dialogues—studies of how entities in media industries and cultures interact, how they are positioned, how they communicate, what they learn from each other, and what new issues their dialogues may introduce to the wider environment. Often it is the case that a study will hone in on a singular figure, concept, technology or industry. While this approach is certainly valuable in the focus and detail it can yield, it may overlook or overshadow the connections, histories, and circumstances which influenced that singular case. An excessive focus on individual actors, singular narratives, and institutional boundaries (whether these are industrial, national, or vernacular) may obfuscate the myriad continuities, hybridities and networks of collaborative meaning-making that shape media cultures. In short, we seek papers exploring and investigating processes rather than results. We invite submissions that primarily consider the links between media entities—conversations that are just as essential to the work as the individual players are. We may find this dialogues on a large or minute scale across a wide array of media fields. As such, we conceive of the dialogic within film and media studies broadly, and invite submissions from a range of potential approaches, topics, and areas of emphasis. Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

Textual dialogues: historically significant dialogue exchanges within a text; between characters in a narrative; aesthetics of the voice; between sound and image; interactive structures within the text; between text and audience; etc.

Production dialogues: between and amongst above- and below-the-line workers; between producers and directors; between producers and studios; between performers and producers; between technologies and practitioners; etc.

Industrial dialogues: between exhibitors and distributors; between different media industries, as in global or cross-media productions or adaptations; state-of-the-industry analyses, and analyses of state-of-the-industry conversations; between production cultures and economic contexts; etc.

Intellectual dialogues: correspondence (real or imagined) between theorists; interventions or explorations in the space between disparate literatures; intellectual histories of terminology; debates in media historiographies; etc.

Public dialogues: between media makers and audiences; between different publics about media objects, technologies, industries, business models, or ethics; reconsiderations of public media systems and infrastructures; between social networking site owners and users; etc.

Dialogues at intersections of identity: conversations at the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, regionalism and nationalities; etc.

Submissions should be 6,000–7,500 words (approximately 20–25 pages double-spaced), formatted in Chicago style. Please submit an electronic copy of the paper, along with a one-page abstract, both saved as a Microsoft Word file. Remove any identifying information so that the submission is suitable for anonymous review. The journal’s Editorial Board will referee all submissions. Send electronic manuscripts and/or any questions to thevelvetlighttrap@gmail.com. All submissions are due August 1, 2017.



About the Journal


The Velvet Light Trap is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal of film, television, and new media studies. Graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas-Austin coordinate issues in alternation. Our Editorial Advisory Board includes such notable scholars as Charles Acland, Richard Allen, Ben Aslinger, Caetlin Benson-Allott, Mark Betz, Corey Creekmur, Michael Curtin, Kay Dickinson, Bambi Haggins, Scott Higgins, Mary Celeste Kearney, Jon Kraszewski, Lucas Hilderbrand Roberta Pearson, Nicholas Sammond, Jacob Smith, Jonathan Sterne, Cristina Venegas. VLT's graduate student editors are assisted by their local faculty advisors: Mary Beltrán, Ben Brewster, Jonathan Gray, Michele Hilmes, Lea Jacobs, Derek Johnson, Vance Kepley, Shanti Kumar, Charles Ramírez Berg, Thomas Schatz, and Janet Staiger.



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Monday, May 8, 2017

Books Every Mother Can Love

Mothers should be pampered for Mother's Day. That means that when you give your mother a cookbook, you should also treat her to a dish made from that cookbook. We've made how-to videos for two recipes from Terry Thompson-Anderson's newest cookbook, Breakfast in TexasRecipes for Elegant Brunches, Down-Home Classics, and Local Favorites. We've got one recipe for a Bloody Shiner using Texas Hill Country Distillers moonshine, and a classic recipe for Huevos con Migas that can be made ahead of time and served to mom on Sunday morning.

We have more recommendations for books that make great Mother's Day gifts, including books for birders, art lovers, swimming hole aficionados, and more.


* Top Pick *


Breakfast in Texas
Recipes for Elegant Brunches, Down-Home Classics, and Local Favorites


By Terry Thompson-Anderson, with photos by Sandy Wilson

The author of the James Beard Cookbook Award finalist Texas on the Table presents nearly one hundred recipes for breakfast and brunch, including favorites from some of Texas’s most popular restaurants, along with menus for entertaining and delightful culinary notes.

Hardcover, $35.00

311 pages | 8 x 10 | 123 color photos | ISBN: 978-1-4773-1044-1



How to Make Terry Thompson-Anderson's Huevos con Migas






Watch the video

More Mother's Day Books






Texas on the Table


By Terry Thompson-Anderson, Photos by Sandy Wilson
One of Texas’s leading cookbook authors presents 150 recipes that showcase the state’s bounty of locally grown meats and produce, artisanal cheeses, and award-winning wines, along with fascinating stories of the people who are enriching the flavors of Texas.
Hardcover, $45.00

ISBN: 978-0-292-74409-7








This Land
This Land
An American Portrait

Photographs by Jack Spencer
Foreword by Jon Meacham

Created across thirteen years, forty-eight states, and eighty thousand miles, this startlingly fresh photographic portrait of the American landscape shares artistic affinities with the works of such American masters as Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Mark Rothko, and Albert Bierstadt.
Hardcover, $45.00

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1189-9







Nina Katchadourian
Nina Katchadourian
Curiouser


Edited by Veronica Roberts Essays by Jeffrey Kastner and Veronica Roberts; interview by Stuart Horodner

This catalogue of an exhibition at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin presents a mid-career survey of the work of Brooklyn-based artist Nina Katchadourian.
Hardcover, $34.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1151-6








The CollectionsThe University of Texas at Austin
Edited by Andrée Bober
Spotlighting more than eighty collections in very diverse fields, this extensively illustrated volume showcases the unparalleled quality and range of the holdings of the University of Texas at Austin.

“Like all wonderfully rich cabinets of curiosities, The Collections rewards slow and repeated looking.”

Glasstire
Hardcover, $125.00

ISBN: 978-1-4773-0785-4









A Love Letter to Texas Women
By Sarah Bird

Acclaimed author Sarah Bird celebrates the uniqueness of Texas women in this beautifully designed gift book.

“Sarah Bird is a true eccentric, but one with a straightforward gift for explaining the human heart. . . . A Lone Star girl-legend.”
—Boston Globe
Hardcover,  $16.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-0949-0








The Swimming Holes of Texas
The Swimming Holes of Texas
By Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy; photography by Carolyn Tracy
Full of practical information to help plan your visits and enticing color photos of one hundred freshwater swimming holes, here is the first-ever guide to the best places to swim in Texas.
Paperback, $21.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1237-7








The Quality of Life Report
The Quality of Life ReportA Novel
By Meghan Daum, Foreword by Curtis Sittenfeld
A New York Times notable book, The Quality of Life Report is the critically acclaimed first novel by Meghan Daum, New York Times best-selling author and winner of the PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction.
Paperback, $15.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1300-8








Comfort and Glory
Comfort and GloryTwo Centuries of American Quilts from the Briscoe Center
By Katherine Jean Adams, Foreword by Karoline Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes
Showcasing 115 remarkable quilts that span more than two hundred years of American quiltmaking, this volume introduces an outstanding collection of American quilts and quilt history documentation.
Hardcover, $ 75.00

ISBN: 978-1-4773-0918-6









One More Warbler

A Life with Birds

By Victor Emanuel, with S. Kirk Walsh
With stories of sighting rare birds ranging from an Eskimo Curlew to the cranes of Asia, one of America’s foremost birders recalls a lifetime of birding adventures, including friendships with luminaries Roger Tory Peterson, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton.
Hardcover, $29.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1238-4








The Texanist
The Texanist
Fine Advice on Living in Texas
By David Courtney and Jack Unruh
The first collection of acclaimed illustrator Jack Unruh’s work, this book gathers the best of the illustrations he created for The Texanist, Texas Monthly’s back-page column, along with the serious and not-so-serious questions that inspired them.
Hardcover, $24.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1297-1








Chrissie Hynde
Chrissie HyndeA Musical Biography
By Adam Sobsey
With new insights into her life and music and fascinating details about the making of all of her albums, this is the first book about Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Chrissie Hynde, the leader of The Pretenders.
Hardcover, $24.95

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1039-7












Yucatán
Recipes from a Culinary Expedition
By David Sterling
Winner of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year Award
With over 275 authentic, easy-to-follow recipes, lively stories of their origins, and luscious illustrations, here is the definitive work on the foods of Yucatán, one of the world’s great regional cuisines.
Hardcover, $60.00

ISBN: 978-0-292-73581-1





Monday, May 1, 2017

Twelve Things You Didn’t Know About Screenwriter Warren Skaaren


To celebrate Alison Macor's lively biography of the screenwriter Warren Skaaren, we're highlighting the surprising impact and short life of one of Hollywood’s highest-paid writers. Although he rarely left Austin where he lived and worked, Skaaren wrote 1980s hit movies like Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Beetlejuice, and Batman. Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren addresses issues of film authorship that have become even more contested in the era of blockbuster filmmaking, especially with ongoing negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and a possible strike by the Writer's Guild of America.


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Twelve Things You Didn’t Know About Screenwriter Warren Skaaren
By Alison Macor


Warren Skaaren was a bit like the fictional Zelig in Woody Allen’s movie of the same name. If something big—even historic—was happening, Skaaren probably was there, just behind the scenes. From his storied tenure as student body president at Rice University during the tumultuous 1960s to his seemingly “overnight” success as one of Hollywood’s go-to script doctors, Skaaren made the most of his short but memorable life. As fellow screenwriter Bill Broyles (Cast Away, Apollo 13) once said, “Warren was like a Wizard of Oz character able to do these magical things like suddenly showing up at the airport with Steve McQueen. He was moving in a world that none of us could even imagine. He just made things happen.”


He sold Hollywood on Texas. Twenty-five-year-old Skaaren, working in the Governor of Texas’s office, drafted a proposal for the state’s film commission. Governor Preston Smith appointed him as the first executive director of the Texas Film Commission in May 1971. Under Skaaren’s four-year tenure, he brought Hollywood films like The Getaway, The Sugarland Express, and Lovin’ Molly to shoot in Texas.

He masterminded the Coat and Tie Rebellion at Rice University. As student body president at Rice, Skaaren kept a campus-wide protest from turning ugly when he led students and faculty in a peaceful protest against the hiring of a controversial new university president. Nicknamed the Coat and Tie Rebellion because of its formally attired participants, this protest—and Skaaren’s efforts—resulted in the resignation of William Masterson just three days after he was hired to lead the university.




He introduced Leatherface to the Mob. While still head of the Texas Film Commission, Skaaren worked behind the scenes to land a distributor for an independent horror movie called The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. All of the major film companies passed, but a fledgling distributor named Bryanston Pictures showed interest. Run by Louis “Butchie” Peraino and his uncle Joseph, a “made” man in the Colombo crime family, Bryanston made the Texans an offer, and well, they couldn’t refuse.


He saved 
Top Gun. A young Tom Cruise, hot off the success of Risky Business, was ready to bail on a film about hotshot fighter pilots at an elite training academy. Producing partners Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson hired Skaaren over the phone after he wowed them with his treatment, which humanized Cruise’s character, Maverick, and ditched Maverick’s bimbo gymnast girlfriend in favor of a sexy rocket scientist. It was also Skaaren’s idea for Maverick to woo love interest Charlie (Kelly McGillis) by singing a duet of the Righteous Brothers’ classic “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” with Maverick’s best friend Goose, played by Anthony Edwards. Cruise stayed on the picture, and its success would propel the actor into superstardom and cement his friendship with Skaaren. 


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Making America Confederate Again

Mississippi and Alabama officially observe Confederate Memorial Day. Recently, a candidate for Virginia governor was endorsed by a prominent neo-Confederate at the 'Old South Ball'. Accounting for the rise in hate crimes and racially-motivated incidents since Trump's election, we're looking back at a piece of scholarship with alarming relevance today. 

In 2008, Euan Hague, Edward H. Sebesta, and Heidi Beirich, published a groundbreaking book, Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction, that described a fringe movement of political activists who promoted an ideology of Confederate nationalism. Advocating for the secession of fifteen states to form a new Confederation of Southern States, neo-Confederates advanced a politics that was at its core anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic). Of course, almost ten years later secession has not happened, but as many scholars have long suggested about political movements, what purports to be new can
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often be found by taking a deeper look at the recent past. Indeed, as President Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said, “Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.” It is this understanding that makes Neo-Confederacy a prescient guide to what was to come. As Hague, Sebesta, and Beirich noted, neo-Confederate activists at the end of the twentieth century wanted nothing less than “to change the [U.S.] social order,” arguing for a need to transform “American cultural, educational, political and religious practices.”

As Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction describes, this meant valorizing whiteness and “Anglo-Celtic” culture, praising violence and masculinity, while simultaneously rejecting “political correctness” and international governmental collaborations, vilifying ethnic and sexual minorities, vociferously opposing non-European immigrants, and questioning American democratic processes of both the electoral system and the franchise. Neo-Confederacy wrapped these positions up in an appeal to Constitutional orginialism, “orthodox” Christianity, and a demand for national self-determination for the US South. Revisiting the book almost a decade after its original publication, one cannot but think that the collection’s assessment of this political fringe describes a phenomenon that, albeit perhaps now ostensibly detached from its forthright advocacy of a new Confederate nation-state, has moved powerfully into the mainstream of American politics. As esteemed historian James Loewen noted in the foreword, in examining neo-Confederacy, “Hague, Sebesta, and Beirich have done the heavy lifting... they have created an essential tool for those who work to bring justice and healing across racial and sectional divides in America.” Given the current state of US politics, Neo-Confederacy is an urgent primer for our new reality.

Dr. Euan Hague is a Professor of Geography at DePaul University, and Edward H. Sebesta is an independent researcher. We asked them to comment on how this 2008 collection, Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction, resonates with the rhetoric and policies advanced by the new Trump administration.

Dr. Michael Hill speaking at a Confederate Memorial Day Parade, Northport, Alabama, 26 April 1997. (Photograph by Gerald R. Webster)

A Nationalist Call to Arms

Euan Hague and Edward H. Sebesta


Like many American magazines in January 2017, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture had on its cover a photograph of Donald Trump: “Time to Begin” read the caption. This was not the first time that we had encountered Chronicles or its publisher, the Illinois-based Rockford Institute. In the 1990s, Chronicles had led an ideological charge that rejected much of US domestic policy as unconstitutional, lamented US foreign policy and transnational organizations, decried ‘activist judges,’ and railed against multiculturalism. Its editor, and lead contributor at the time, was Thomas Fleming. Fleming had also been a cofounder of Southern Partisan magazine in 1979, an imprint of the Foundation for American Education, which regularly published interviews with leading figures of the Republican right such as Trent Lott. At the Rockford Institute, Fleming invited colleagues from his Southern Partisan days to write for Chronicles and, in June 1994 alongside twenty-six others, he helped establish a new political party: the Southern League (which was renamed as the League of the South in 1997). Influenced by growing right-wing ethnic nationalism and nationalist leaders in Europe, such as those contributing to the collapse of Yugoslavia and Umberto Bossi in Italy, a year later Fleming and Southern League President James Michael Hill issued their nationalist call to arms in The Washington Post. On 29 October 1995, “The New Dixie Manifesto” set forth a Confederate nationalist agenda that argued for devolution of federal power to the states, local control over schools and education policy, and for the right of peoples to pursue and preserve their “authentic cultural traditions.” The Manifesto questioned the very concept of “America” as a united country of states and lamented that “national uniformity is being imposed by the political class that runs Washington, the economic class that owns Wall Street and the cultural class in charge of Hollywood and the Ivy League.” What was needed to challenge this US “multicultural, continental empire, ruled from Washington by federal agencies and under the thumb of the federal judiciary,” was an emboldened populace that would reject both the Democratic Party and craven establishment Republicans, and instead elect bold representatives that would reject federal regulations and interventions in state and local affairs. Those leading this charge would “insist upon a strict construction of the Constitution” and be “real people” from “the provinces, the sticks, the boondocks,” in particular the former states of the Confederacy. The manifesto envisioned a nationalist party, the Southern League, to advance these aims. This nascent right wing ideology gained supporters as Southern League members contributed essays and political analyses to websites, newsletters, and conservative talk radio stations. Advocates outlined their ideas in numerous books, often published in their tens of thousands by small, specialized presses that could maximize sales online to a dedicated audience of enthusiastic supporters. Some contributors were faculty members at prominent institutions in Georgia and Alabama; others, as Neo-Confederacy:A Critical Introduction documented, were white nationalists, such as Jared Taylor of American Renaissance and members of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Neo-Confederacy aligned with ideological positions, such as those proposed by Samuel Huntington, that understood the United States (and the Western world more generally) to be engaged in a ‘clash of civilizations’ with Islam and the Islamic world. Within such a conceptualization of global geopolitics, neo-Confederate organizations like the League of the South demanded that a person’s ethno-religious identity is their primary basis for belief, and echoed this perspective in the United States by valorizing a “white, Anglo-Celtic” ethnic group and its “orthodox Christianity.”


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Contemporary Sociology on the Impact of The Katrina Bookshelf

A number of studies on Hurricane Katrina have appeared in publications and books over the past several years. Most were brief glances at some fragment of the disaster and not rich, in-depth portraits of the people affected. Many rode the crest of Katrina's news cycle without investing in continued study. The books in our series The Katrina Bookshelf, by contrast, are the result of a national effort to bring experts together in a collaborative program of research on the human costs of the disaster. The program itself is supported by the Ford, Gates, MacArthur, Rockefeller, and Russell Sage Foundations, and sponsored by the Social Science Research Council. This is the most comprehensive social science coverage of a disaster to be found anywhere in the literature. It also presents a deeply human story. The stories told in The Katrina Bookshelf have attracted the attention of scholars and the New York Times.

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In December 2016, Neil Gross cited Ron Eyerman's Is This America? Katrina as Cultural Trauma in a New York Times Sunday Review article, titled “Are Americans Experiencing Collective Trauma?,” tying the collective trauma of our unprecedented 2016 election to the loss of identity associated with the aftermath of natural disaster: "We’re all familiar with the notion of psychological trauma—damage to an individual’s psyche caused by an extremely distressing event. But there’s also another kind of trauma: a collective disturbance that happens to a group of people when their world is suddenly upended."

Additionally, Contemporary Sociology recently published a review essay evaluating the impact of three books from The Katrina Bookshelf. In "The Elusive Recovery: Post-Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding During the First Decade, 2005–2015," Kevin Fox Gotham, professor of sociology at Tulane University, highlights the impact The Katrina Bookshelf has had on disaster discourse so far. Using these multiyear studies, he argues for the need to examine not only the discriminatory and problematic implementation of government aid but also the agency of displaced people in adapting to imperfect systems of recovery. Indeed, these studies are vital because "Katrina is still ongoing, still taking shape, still unfolding along the flow of time."

Alice Fothergill and Lori Peek, coauthors of the award-winning Children of Katrina, followed
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the lives of seven representative children and teens over several years, and offer an engrossing, long-term study of how children experience disasters and the personal and structural factors that aid or hinder their recovery. Gotham writes that Children of Katrina provides "new empirical and theoretical insights" and "vivid, engaging, and deeply moving accounts of the post-hurricane life experiences." He continues:

Fothergill and Peek’s contribution is to show us that it is not solely age, poverty, race, or hazard exposure but how these risk factors accumulate over time as “if each ‘piece’ of the vulnerability puzzle connects and then is experienced” by the person impacted by the extreme event. Eschewing a fixed and static conception of vulnerability, Fothergill and Peek show that cumulative vulnerability has both temporal and additive components. Vulnerability develops over time as risk factors accumulate. . . . A major contribution is to show that resource depth and resource mobilization act as shields or protections against the damaging effects of disasters.

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Steve Kroll-Smith, Vern Baxter, and Pam Jenkins, coauthors of Left to Chance: Hurricane Katrina and the Story of Two New Orleans Neighborhoods, offer "an inside perspective on the disaster," having conducted field interviews in their hometown of New Orleans. Left to Chance examines two African American neighborhoods—working-class Hollygrove and middle-class Pontchartrain Park—to learn how their residents experienced “Miss Katrina” and the long road back to normal life. Gotham writes, "The ethnographic detail and evocative interview quotes make for an impressively researched book that provides a welcome alternative to the many decontextualized and overly broad journalistic exposés that came out during the first few years after Katrina devastated New Orleans." Kroll-Smith, Baxter, and Jenkins have delivered "a powerfully complex and nuanced analysis of how issues of neighborhood rebuilding and exile intersect with government policy." Katrina stripped away the outer surface of our social structure and showed us what lies underneath: a grim look at race, class, and gender in these United States.

Katherine Browne's Standing in the Need investigates "how the vocabulary of race infuses people’s narrations of the disaster." She has written an eloquent, detailed account of an extended African American family’s grueling eight-year recovery from Katrina,
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demonstrating how greater cultural understanding would enable disaster recovery organizations to better serve affected communities. "Drawing on the post-storm experience of the St. Bernard family, Browne suggests that recovery agencies could reduce suffering and speed healing by learning about the history, culture, and distinctive customs and needs of disaster-impacted communities. The provision of places to gather, places to cook big meals, and places to care for children could assist in repairing frayed cultural bonds and offer a roadmap for recovery," Gotham notes.

Gotham’s Contemporary Sociology review concludes that: "Taking stock of the contributions these books offer leaves one with a sense of admiration for the nuanced and sophisticated nature of Katrina research and the hope that scholars can bring this developing scholarship to bear on public debates and current urban planning processes and practices."

How does America respond to disaster? It is crucial to be honest about our shortcomings so that we may learn from them and be ready for the next time. When seen through a social science lens, Katrina reveals the real human costs of disaster and helps us prepare for future challenges.

Publishing in Spring 2018, Steve Kroll-Smith’s Recovering Inequality draws comparisons between Katrina and another historically disastrous event in American history, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Kroll-Smith writes, "totalizing urban disasters, like those that occurred in San Francisco and New Orleans, provide an uncommon occasion to inspect the dynamics of social inequality inherent in . . . America's essential dilemma: class and race inequality cloaked in the language of human parity." This appraisal of the kind of society we once were and the kind we have become, and will perhaps inform the society we will be when the next disaster strikes.


In Fall 2018, Kai Erickson's and Lori Peek’s forthcoming The Lessons of Katrina will provide a brief overview of why we need to study disasters and then deliver a treatise on the specific lessons we can learn from a wide-reaching and ongoing trauma like Katrina.

Read also: Nine Scholars on the Lessons of Katrina


Browse all books in The Katrina Bookshelf here, including the inaugural book Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora, edited by Lynn Weber and Lori Peek. Subscribe to our email list to find out when new books in The Katrina Bookself publish.

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