Urban development after disaster, the fading of black political clout, and the onset of gentrification
Like no other American city, New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina offers powerful insight into issues of political economy in urban development and, in particular, how a city’s character changes after a disaster that spurs economic and political transition. In New Orleans, the hurricane upset an existing stalemate among rival factions of economic and political elites, and its aftermath facilitated the rise of a globally oriented faction of local capital.
In Renew Orleans? Aaron Schneider shows how some city leaders were able to access fragmented local institutions and capture areas of public policy vital to their development agenda. Through interviews and surveys with workers and advocates in construction, restaurants, shipyards, and hotel and casino cleaning, Schneider contrasts sectors prioritized during post-Katrina recovery with neglected sectors. The result is a fine-grained view of the way labor markets are structured to the advantage of elites, emphasizing how dual development produces wealth for the few while distributing poverty and exclusion to the many on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity.
Schneider shows the way exploitation operates both in the workplace and the community, tracing working-class resistance that joins struggles for dignity at home and work. In the process, working classes and popular sectors put forth their own alternative forms of development.