Thursday, January 31, 2008

Katrina Activists are Women

The new online issue of The Journal of American History is all Katrina-themed. It's called "Through the Eyes of Katrina: the Past as Prologue" and features 20 essays and articles.

I especially like this article on the women who organized after the storm. As is so often the case, it is women who do the organizing. It was women who, decades ago, formed historical societies to preserve the French Quarter which was, at that time, an urban core marked by blight and crime. The men were going to tear it all down; women organized to save it.

I also like this article on Katrina and carnival. I appreciated the explanation of how carnival functions not only as an expression of cultural identity and celebration but also as an important forum for satire, which has been a preferred vehicle for discourse here for hundreds of years. This piece is also a great example of how articles written by locals stand out for their use of humor. Since Katrina, I had been trying to figure out why, so often, articles written by earnest outsiders fall flat. I think I've finally found an explanation: outsiders often write articles that don't include humor and any article that doesn't make the reader laugh can't, by definition, be an authentic representation of what happens here. It just can't.

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