America’s most beguiling metropolis started out as a snake-infested, hurricane-battered swamp. Through intense imperial rivalries and ambitious settlers who risked their lives to succeed in colonial America, the site became a crossroads for the Atlantic world. Powell gives us the full sweep of the city’s history from its founding through statehood.
Airline Highway: A Play
Lisa D'Amour Northwestern University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3604.A43975A75 2015 | Dewey Decimal 812.6
Airline Highway is a rollicking play that, with great insight, humor, and subtlety, examines a tight knit community of "outsiders" over the course of a single, legendary day. The Hummingbird Hotel is the figurative or literal home for a group of strippers, French Quarter service workers, hustlers, and poets who are bound together by their bad luck, bad decisions, and complete lack of pretense. Presiding over them is Miss Ruby, a beloved former burlesque performer who has requested a funeral before she dies. As the people whose lives she has touched gather to celebrate her, they must face themselves, each other, and the consequences of the choices they have made. Airline Highway shows us the tenuous hold that community, authenticity, and real-time ritual have on a rapidly gentrifying New Orleans.
With this colorful study, Reid Mitchell takes us to Mardi Gras--to a yearly ritual that sweeps the richly multicultural city of New Orleans into a frenzy of parades, pageantry, dance, drunkenness, music, sexual display, and social and political bombast. In All on a Mardi Gras Day Mitchell tells us some of the most intriguing stories of Carnival since 1804. Woven into his narrative are observations of the meaning and messages of Mardi Gras--themes of unity, exclusion, and elitism course through these tales as they do through the Crescent City.
Moving through the decades, Mitchell describes the city's diverse cultures coming together to compete in Carnival performances. We observe powerful social clubs, or krewes, designing their elaborate parade displays and extravagant parties; Creoles and Americans in conflict over whose dances belong in the ballroom; enslaved Africans and African Americans preserving a sense of their heritage in processions and dances; white supremacists battling Reconstruction; working-class blacks creating the flamboyant Krewe of Zulu; the birth and reign of jazz; the gay community holding lavish balls; and of course tourists purchasing an authentic experience according to the dictates of our commercial culture. Interracial friction, nativism, Jim Crow separatism, the hippie movement--Mitchell illuminates the expression of these and other American themes in events ranging from the 1901 formation of the anti-prohibitionist Carrie Nation Club to the controversial 1991 ordinance desegregating Carnival parade krewes.
Through the conflicts, Mitchell asserts, "I see in Mardi Gras much what I hear in a really good jazz band: a model for the just society, the joyous community, the heavenly city...A model for community where individual expression is the basis for social harmony and where continuity is the basis for creativity." All on a Mardi Gras Day journeys into a world where hope persists for a rare balance between diversity and unity.
Beatrice of Bayou Têche
Alice Ilgenfritz Jones University of Wisconsin Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS2150.J2B43 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.4
Beatrice of Bayou Têche is a work of great historical and artistic interest: a late-nineteenth-century novel by a white woman about a black woman artist-protagonist. As the introduction for this reprint edition shows, Alice Ilgenfritz Jones was the first white woman to take an extended interest in the intersection of creativity, race, and gender. In Beatrice, Jones seeks to unveil the relationships between white and African Americans during the twenty years before the Civil War by following her mixed-race protagonist from her childhood as a slave in New Orleans through her career as a free woman and inspired painter and opera singer. Beatrice renders the white author’s effort to find a place for the mixed-race woman in relation to paradigms of creativity that are not only gendered but racialized. In the process, it exposes the fault lines of ideology and literary convention that underlie attempts to negotiate issues of race, gender, and creativity in late nineteenth-century America.
Black New Orleans, 1860-1880
John W. Blassingame University of Chicago Press, 1976 Library of Congress F379.N59B42 | Dewey Decimal 917.63350696073
Reissued for the first time in over thirty years, Black New Orleans explores the twenty-year period in which the city’s black population more than doubled. Meticulously researched and replete with archival illustrations from newspapers and rare periodicals, John W. Blassingame’s groundbreaking history offers a unique look at the economic and social life of black people in New Orleans during Reconstruction. Not a conventional political treatment, Blassingame’s history instead emphasizes the educational, religious, cultural, and economic activities of African Americans during the late nineteenth century.
“Blending historical and sociological perspectives, and drawing with skill and imagination upon a variety of sources, [Blassingame] offers fresh insights into an oft-studied period of Southern history. . . . In both time and place the author has chosen an extraordinarily revealing vantage point from which to view his subject. ”—Neil R. McMillen, American Historical Review
During Louisiana’s Spanish colonial period, economic, political, and military conditions combined with local cultural and legal traditions to favor the growth and development of a substantial group of free blacks. In Bounded Lives, Bounded Places, Kimberly S. Hanger explores the origin of antebellum New Orleans’ large, influential, and propertied free black—or libre—population, one that was unique in the South. Hanger examines the issues libres confronted as they individually and collectively contested their ambiguous status in a complexly stratified society. Drawing on rare archives in Louisiana and Spain, Hanger reconstructs the world of late-eighteenth-century New Orleans from the perspective of its free black residents, and documents the common experiences and enterprises that helped solidify libres’ sense of group identity. Over the course of three and a half decades of Spanish rule, free people of African descent in New Orleans made their greatest advances in terms of legal rights and privileges, demographic expansion, vocational responsibilities, and social standing. Although not all blacks in Spanish New Orleans yearned for expanded opportunity, Hanger shows that those who did were more likely to succeed under Spain’s dominion than under the governance of France, Great Britain, or the United States. The advent of U.S. rule brought restrictions to both manumission and free black activities in New Orleans. Nonetheless, the colonial libre population became the foundation for the city’s prosperous and much acclaimed Creoles of Color during the antebellum era.
Building the Devil’s Empire is the first comprehensive history of New Orleans’s early years, tracing the town’s development from its origins in 1718 to its revolt against Spanish rule in 1768. Shannon Lee Dawdy’s picaresque account of New Orleans’s wild youth features a cast of strong-willed captives, thin-skinned nobles, sharp-tongued women, and carousing travelers. But she also widens her lens to reveal the port city’s global significance, examining its role in the French Empire and the Caribbean, and she concludes that by exemplifying a kind of rogue colonialism—where governments, outlaws, and capitalism become entwined—New Orleans should prompt us to reconsider our notions of how colonialism works.
"[A] penetrating study of the colony's founding."—Nation
“A brilliant and spirited reinterpretation of the emergence of French New Orleans. Dawdy leads us deep into the daily life of the city, and along the many paths that connected it to France, the North American interior, and the Greater Caribbean. A major contribution to our understanding of the history of the Americas and of the French Atlantic, the work is also a model of interdisciplinary research and analysis, skillfully bringing together archival research, archaeology, and literary analysis.”—Laurent Dubois, Duke University
"Civic engagement has been underrated and overlooked. Koritz and Sanchez illuminate the power of what community engagement through art and culture revitalization can do to give voice to the voiceless and a sense of being to those displaced."
---Sonia BasSheva Mañjon, Wesleyan University
"This profound and eloquent collection describes and assesses the new coalitions bringing a city back to life. It's a powerful call to expand our notions of culture, social justice, and engaged scholarship. I'd put this on my 'must read' list."
---Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University
"Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina is a rich and compelling text for thinking about universities and the arts amid social crisis. Americans need to hear the voices of colleagues who were caught in Katrina's wake and who responded with commitment, creativity, and skill."
---Peter Levine, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement)
This collection of essays documents the ways in which educational institutions and the arts community responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. While firmly rooted in concrete projects, Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina also addresses the larger issues raised by committed public scholarship. How can higher education institutions engage with their surrounding communities? What are the pros and cons of "asset-based" and "outreach" models of civic engagement? Is it appropriate for the private sector to play a direct role in promoting civic engagement? How does public scholarship impact traditional standards of academic evaluation? Throughout the volume, this diverse collection of essays paints a remarkably consistent and persuasive account of arts-based initiatives' ability to foster social and civic renewal.
Amy Koritz is Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Professor of English at Drew University.
George J. Sanchez is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California.
Front and rear cover designs, photographs, and satellite imagery processing by Richard Campanella.
digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.
The devastation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has been imprinted in our collective visual memory by thousands of images in the media and books of dramatic photographs by Robert Polidori, Larry Towell, Chris Jordan, Debbie Fleming Caffrey, and others. New Orleanians want the world to see and respond to the destruction of their city and the suffering of its people—and yet so many images of so much destruction threaten a visual and emotional overload that would tempt us to avert our eyes and become numb. In The Color of Loss, Dan Burkholder presents a powerful new way of seeing the ravaged homes, churches, schools, and businesses of New Orleans. Using an innovative digital photographic technology called high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, in which multiple exposures are artistically blended to bring out details in the shadows and highlights that would be hidden in conventional photographs, he creates images that are almost like paintings in their richness of color and profusion of detail. Far more intense and poetic than purely documentary photographs, Burkholder's images lure viewers to linger over the artifacts of people's lives—a child's red wagon abandoned in a mud-caked room, a molding picture of Jesus—to fully understand the havoc thrust upon the people of New Orleans. In the deserted, sinisterly beautiful rooms of The Color of Loss, we see how much of the splendor and texture of New Orleans washed away in the flood. This is the hidden truth of Katrina that Dan Burkholder has revealed.
Most of the narratives packaged for New Orleans's many tourists cultivate a desire for black culture—jazz, cuisine, dance—while simultaneously targeting black people and their communities as sources and sites of political, social, and natural disaster. In this timely book, the Americanist and New Orleans native Lynnell L. Thomas delves into the relationship between tourism, cultural production, and racial politics. She carefully interprets the racial narratives embedded in tourism websites, travel guides, business periodicals, and newspapers; the thoughts of tour guides and owners; and the stories told on bus and walking tours as they were conducted both before and after Katrina. She describes how, with varying degrees of success, African American tour guides, tour owners, and tourism industry officials have used their own black heritage tours and tourism-focused businesses to challenge exclusionary tourist representations. Taking readers from the Lower Ninth Ward to the White House, Thomas highlights the ways that popular culture and public policy converge to create a mythology of racial harmony that masks a long history of racial inequality and structural inequity.
The Fifth Sun
Mary Helen Lagasse Northwestern University Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3612.A38F54 2004 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Winner of the 3rd Annual Miguel Mármol Prize from Curbstone Press, Mary Helen Lagasse's The Fifth Sun is an inspiring story of an immigrant who struggles valiantly for a better life for herself and her family. A young Mexican woman, Mercedes, leaves her village to work as a housemaid in New Orleans. This fast-paced novel takes us through her adventures in New Orleans, her marriage, her struggle to raise her children, her deportation, and her attempt to re-cross the river and be reunited with her children.
Essayist Catharine Savage Brosman explores the relationship of human beings to their environment, traveling from American deserts to dense European urban settings. Whether sipping wine in a Parisian café, partying with the jet set in Aspen, or contemplating the arid desert West that she loves, Brosman inhabits these settings, and many others, with a sense of adventure and discovery. To read these essays is to enjoy the company of a lively, thoughtful, original mind. Brosman’s "higher ground" is that place we all seek, where we can find and express our own best selves.
Katrina: A History, 1915–2015
Andy Horowitz Harvard University Press, 2020 Library of Congress HV636 2005 .N4H67 2020 | Dewey Decimal 363.349220976335
The definitive history of Katrina: an epic of citymaking, revealing how engineers and oil executives, politicians and musicians, and neighbors black and white built New Orleans, then watched it sink under the weight of their competing ambitions.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, but the decisions that caused the disaster extend across the twentieth century. After the city weathered a major hurricane in 1915, its Sewerage and Water Board believed that developers could safely build housing away from the high ground near the Mississippi. And so New Orleans grew in lowlands that relied on significant government subsidies to stay dry. When the flawed levee system surrounding the city and its suburbs failed, these were the neighborhoods that were devastated. The homes that flooded belonged to Louisianans black and white, rich and poor. Katrina’s flood washed over the twentieth-century city.
The flood line tells one important story about Katrina, but it is not the only story that matters. Andy Horowitz investigates the response to the flood, when policymakers reapportioned the challenges the water posed, making it easier for white New Orleanians to return home than it was for African Americans. And he explores how the profits and liabilities created by Louisiana’s oil industry have been distributed unevenly among the state’s citizens for a century, prompting both dreams of abundance—and a catastrophic land loss crisis that continues today.
Laying bare the relationship between structural inequality and physical infrastructure—a relationship that has shaped all American cities—Katrina offers a chilling glimpse of the future disasters we are already creating.
Drago Jancar Northwestern University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PG1919.2.A54P6713 1998 | Dewey Decimal 891.8435
The first novel by the preeminent Slovenian author Drago Jančar to be published in English, Mocking Desire is a brilliant exploration of conflicting states of experience and comprehension.
Gregor Gradnik, a Slovenian writer, enters the sensual and seething life of New Orleans to teach a creative writing class at a university. Gregor at first acts as only an observer, yet seductive New Orleans soon draws him into a series of bizarre erotic, professional, and social relationships. A profound and entertaining work, Mocking Desire provides the English-speaking world with the perfect introduction to one of Eastern Europe's leading writers.
New Orleans in the 1920s and 1930s was a deadly place. In 1925, the city’s homicide rate was six times that of New York City and twelve times that of Boston. Jeffrey S. Adler has explored every homicide recorded in New Orleans between 1925 and 1940—over two thousand in all—scouring police and autopsy reports, old interviews, and crumbling newspapers. More than simply quantifying these cases, Adler places them in larger contexts—legal, political, cultural, and demographic—and emerges with a tale of racism, urban violence, and vicious policing that has startling relevance for today.
Murder in New Orleans shows that whites were convicted of homicide at far higher rates than blacks leading up to the mid-1920s. But by the end of the following decade, this pattern had reversed completely, despite an overall drop in municipal crime rates. The injustice of this sharp rise in arrests was compounded by increasingly brutal treatment of black subjects by the New Orleans police department. Adler explores other counterintuitive trends in violence, particularly how murder soared during the flush times of the Roaring Twenties, how it plummeted during the Great Depression, and how the vicious response to African American crime occurred even as such violence plunged in frequency—revealing that the city’s cycle of racial policing and punishment was connected less to actual patterns of wrongdoing than to the national enshrinement of Jim Crow. Rather than some hyperviolent outlier, this Louisiana city was a harbinger of the endemic racism at the center of today’s criminal justice state. Murder in New Orleans lays bare how decades-old crimes, and the racially motivated cruelty of the official response, have baleful resonance in the age of Black Lives Matter.
A vividly described and intensely personal memoir, My Bayou charts a personal and spiritual transformation along the fabled banks of Bayou Saint John in New Orleans. When Constance Adler moves to New Orleans, she begins what becomes a lasting love affair with the city, and especially the bayou—a living entity and the beating heart of local culture. Rites of passage, celebrations, mysterious accidents, and magic all take place on its banks, leading Adler to a vibrant awareness of the power of being part of a community. That faith is tested in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and is ultimately proven right, as Bayou Saint John begins to rebuild.
Navel of the Moon: A Novel
Mary Helen Lagasse Northwestern University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3612.A38N38 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
A freelance writer and journalist, Vicenta (“Vicky”) Lumière has moved beyond her upbringing in the diverse Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans. But a visit to her childhood friend Lonnie Cavanaugh in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women brings back a flood of memories.In Navel of the Moon, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut The Fifth Sun, Mary Helen Lagasse turns to the 1950s and 60s, where a young Vicky learns that the complicated people that we become as adults and the complicated world that adults create are shaped by events in childhood. The adults around her, beginning with her Mexican grandmother, Mimy, the family storyteller—who says she is from the “navel of the moon”—often confound and sometimes trouble Vicky. Yet Vicky’s strength of character is profoundly affected by the complexity of life, and in particular that of her troubled childhood friend Lonnie and of Valentina Dreyfus, the Holocaust survivor who becomes Vicky's closest confidante.
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the world reacted with shock on seeing residents of this distinctive city left abandoned to the floodwaters. After the last rescue was completed, a new worry arose—that New Orleans’s unique historic fabric sat in ruins, and we had lost one of the most charming old cities of the New World.
In Patina, anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy examines what was lost and found through the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Tracking the rich history and unique physicality of New Orleans, she explains how it came to adopt the nickname “the antique city.” With innovative applications of thing theory, Patina studies the influence of specific items—such as souvenirs, heirlooms, and Hurricane Katrina ruins—to explore how the city’s residents use material objects to comprehend time, history, and their connection to one another. A leading figure in archaeology of the contemporary, Dawdy draws on material evidence, archival and literary texts, and dozens of post-Katrina interviews to explore how the patina aesthetic informs a trenchant political critique. An intriguing study of the power of everyday objects, Patina demonstrates how sharing in the care of a historic landscape can unite a city’s population—despite extreme divisions of class and race—and inspire civil camaraderie based on a nostalgia that offers not a return to the past but an alternative future.
This biography of a pioneering Zionist and leader of American Reform Judaism adds significantly to our understanding of American and southern Jewish history.
Max Heller was a man of both passionate conviction and inner contradiction. He sought to be at the center of current affairs, not as a spokesperson of centrist opinion, but as an agitator or mediator, constantly struggling to find an acceptable path as he confronted the major issues of the day--racism and Jewish emancipation in eastern Europe, nationalism and nativism, immigration and assimilation. Heller's life experience provides a distinct vantage point from which to view the complexity of race relations in New Orleans and the South and the confluence of cultures that molded his development as a leader. A Bohemian immigrant and one of the first U.S.-trained rabbis, Max Heller served for 40 years as spiritual leader of a Reform Jewish congregation in New Orleans--at that time the largest city in the South. Far more than a congregational rabbi, Heller assumed an activist role in local affairs, Reform Judaism, and the Zionist movement, maintaining positions often unpopular with his neighbors, congregants, and colleagues. His deep concern for social justice led him to question two basic assumptions that characterized his larger social milieu--segregation and Jewish assimilation.
Heller, a consummate Progressive with clear vision and ideas substantially ahead of their time, led his congregation, his community, Reform Jewish colleagues, and Zionist sympathizers in a difficult era.
Race and Culture in New Orleans Storiesposits that the Crescent City and the surrounding Louisiana bayous were a logical setting for the literary exploration of crucial social problems in America.
Race and Culture in New Orleans Stories is a study of four volumes of interrelated short stories set in New Orleans and the surrounding Louisiana bayous: Kate Chopin’s Bayou Folk; George Washington Cable’s Old Creole Days; Grace King’s Balcony Stories; and Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s The Goodness of St. Rocque and Other Stories. James Nagel argues that the conflicts and themes in these stories cannot be understood without a knowledge of the unique historical context of the founding of Louisiana, its four decades of rule by the Spanish, the Louisiana Purchase and the resulting cultural transformations across the region, Napoleonic law, the Code Noir, the plaçage tradition, the immigration of various ethnic and natural groups into the city, and the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction. All of these historical factors energize and enrich the fiction of this important region.
The literary context of these volumes is also central to understanding their place in literary history. They are short-story cycles—collections of short fiction that contain unifying settings, recurring characters or character types, and central themes and motifs. They are also examples of the “local color” tradition in fiction, a movement that has been much misunderstood. Nagel maintains that regional literature was meant to be the highest form of American writing, not the lowest, and its objective was to capture the locations, folkways, values, dialects, conflicts, and ways of life in the various regions of the country in order to show that the lives of common citizens were sufficiently important to be the subject of serious literature.
Finally, Nagel shows that New Orleans provided a profoundly rich and complex setting for the literary exploration of some of the most crucial social problems in America, including racial stratification, social caste, economic exploitation, and gender roles, all of which were undergoing rapid transformation at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth.
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
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.
Showdown in Desire portrays the Black Panther Party in New Orleans in 1970, a year that included a shootout with the police on Piety Street, the creation of survival programs, and the daylong standoff between the Panthers and the police in the Desire housing development. Through interviews with Malik Rahim, the Panther; Robert H. King, Panther and member of the Angola 3; Larry Preston Williams, the black policeman; Moon Landrieu, the mayor; Henry Faggen, the Desire resident; Robert Glass, the white lawyer; Jerome LeDoux, the black priest; William Barnwell, the white priest; and many others, Orissa Arend tells a nuanced story that unfolds amid guns, tear gas, desperate poverty, oppression, and inflammatory rhetoric to capture the palpable spirit of rebellion, resistance, and revolution of an incendiary summer in New Orleans.
Winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Award
Winner of the John Hope Franklin Prize
Winner of the Avery O. Craven AwardSoul by Soul tells the story of slavery in antebellum America by moving away from the cotton plantations and into the slave market itself, the heart of the domestic slave trade. Taking us inside the New Orleans slave market, the largest in the nation, where 100,000 men, women, and children were packaged, priced, and sold, Walter Johnson transforms the statistics of this chilling trade into the human drama of traders, buyers, and slaves, negotiating sales that would alter the life of each. What emerges is not only the brutal economics of trading but the vast and surprising interdependencies among the actors involved.
Using recently discovered court records, slaveholders’ letters, nineteenth-century narratives of former slaves, and the financial documentation of the trade itself, Johnson reveals the tenuous shifts of power that occurred in the market’s slave coffles and showrooms. Traders packaged their slaves by “feeding them up,” dressing them well, and oiling their bodies, but they ultimately relied on the slaves to play their part as valuable commodities. Slave buyers stripped the slaves and questioned their pasts, seeking more honest answers than they could get from the traders. In turn, these examinations provided information that the slaves could utilize, sometimes even shaping a sale to their own advantage.
Johnson depicts the subtle interrelation of capitalism, paternalism, class consciousness, racism, and resistance in the slave market, to help us understand the centrality of the “peculiar institution” in the lives of slaves and slaveholders alike. His pioneering history is in no small measure the story of antebellum slavery.
The New Orleans Spiritual churches constitute a distinctive African-American belief system. Influenced by Catholicism, Pentecostalism, Spiritualism, and Voodoo, the group is a New World syncretic faith, similar to Espiritismo, Santería, and Umbanda. The Spiritual Churches of New Orleans combines a historical account of the emergence of this religion with careful ethnographic description of current congregations. At the same time, text and photographs eloquently convey the ecstasy at the heart of the Spiritual experience.
The Spiritual churches began in the 1920s as a women's movement. Men later assumed leadership in an effort to legitimate the group within the New Orleans religious community and form associations with Spiritual churches elsewhere in the United States.
Unlike earlier researchers, who treated practices in the churches as expressions of black folk traditions, the authors see Spiritual ritual not as based on magic, but as the way the sacred is acted out within an African-American aesthetic. During worship, members may be filled by the Holy Spirit, as in Pentecostal churches, or "entertain" spirits or spirit guides, as in Spiritualism or Voodoo. Prophecy and healing are presented as the markers of this faith, and the Native American figure Black Hawk as a major symbol of empowerment.
Based on extensive interviews with church members, years of participant observation, and careful research in documentary sources, this book achieves rigorous conceptual clarity in a straightforward, engaging style.
The Authors: Claude F. Jacobs holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Tulane University. He teaches at Oakland University.
Andrew J. Kaslow holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He is a consultant to international organizations.
The impact of St. Mark’s Community Center and United Methodist Church on the city of New Orleans is immense. Their stories are dramatic reflections of the times. But these stories are more than mere reflections because St. Mark’s changed the picture, leading the way into different understandings of what urban diversity could and should mean. This book looks at the contributions of St. Mark’s, in particular the important role played by women (especially deaconesses) as the church confronted social issues through the rise of the social gospel movement and into the modern civil rights era.
Ellen Blue uses St. Mark’s as a microcosm to tell a larger, overlooked story about women in the Methodist Church and the sources of reform. One of the few volumes on women’s history within the church, this book challenges the dominant narrative of the social gospel movement and its past. St. Mark’s and the Social Gospel begins by examining the period between 1895 and World War I, chronicling the center’s development from its early beginnings as a settlement house that served immigrants and documenting the early social gospel activities of Methodist women in New Orleans. Part II explores the efforts of subsequent generations of women to further gender and racial equality between the 1920s and 1960. Major topics addressed in this section include an examination of the deaconesses’ training in Christian Socialist economic theory and the church’s response to the Brown decision. The third part focuses on the church’s direct involvement in the school desegregation crisis of 1960 , including an account of the pastor who broke the white boycott of a desegregated elementary school by taking his daughter back to class there. Part IV offers a brief look at the history of St. Mark’s since 1965.
Shedding new light on an often neglected subject, St. Mark’s and the Social Gospel will be welcomed by scholars of religious history, local history, social history, and women’s studies.
In 1843, the Louisiana Supreme Court heard the case of a slave named Sally Miller, who claimed to have been born a free white person in Germany. Sally, a very light-skinned slave girl working in a New Orleans caf, might not have known she had a case were it not for a woman who recognized her as Salom Muller, with whom she had emigrated from Germany over twenty years earlier. Sally decided to sue for her freedom, and was ultimately freed, despite strong evidence contrary to her claim.
In The Two Lives of Sally Miller, Carol Wilson explores this fascinating legal case and its reflection on broader questions about race, society, and law in the antebellum South. Why did a court system known for its extreme bias against African Americans help to free a woman who was believed by many to be a black slave? Wilson explains that while the notion of white enslavement was shocking, it was easier for society to acknowledge that possibility than the alternative-an African slave who deceived whites and triumphed over the system.
The archaeology of four New Orleans neighborhoods that were replaced by public housing projects
Uprooted: Race, Public Housing, and the Archaeology of Four Lost New Orleans Neighborhoods uses archaeological research on four neighborhoods that were razed during the construction of public housing in World War II–era New Orleans. Although each of these neighborhoods was identified as a “slum” historically, the material record challenges the simplicity of this designation. D. Ryan Gray provides evidence of the inventiveness of former residents who were marginalized by class, color, or gender and whose everyday strategies of survival, subsistence, and spirituality challenged the city’s developing racial and social hierarchies.
These neighborhoods initially appear to have been quite distinct, ranging from the working-class Irish Channel, to the relatively affluent Creole of Color–dominated Lafitte area, to the former location of Storyville, the city’s experiment in semilegal prostitution. Archaeological and historical investigations suggest that race was the crucial factor in the areas’ selection for clearance. Each neighborhood manifested a particular perceived racial disorder, where race intersected with ethnicity, class, or gender in ways that defied the norms of Jim Crow segregation.
Gray’s research makes use of both primary documents—including census records, city directories, and even the brothel advertising guides called “Blue Books”—and archaeological data to examine what this entailed at a variety of scales, reconstructing narratives of the households and communities affected by clearance. Public housing, both in New Orleans and elsewhere, imposed a new kind of control on urban life that had the effect of making cities both more segregated and less equal. The story of the neighborhoods that were destroyed provides a reminder that their erasure was not an inevitable outcome, and that a more equitable and just city is still possible today. A critical examination of the rise of public housing helps inform the ongoing debates over its demise, especially in light of the changing face of post-Katrina New Orleans.