"Natural disasters have been characterised [...] as non-hierarchical, egalitarian, or equal opportunity phenomena, affecting alike all communities in their path regardless of class, race, or any other social attributes" (Adeola and Picou). In short, it is the common claim that "natural hazards do not discriminate"(ibid.). On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and Mississippi. The resultant catastrophic flooding of New Orleans, in particular, due to the failure and inadequate maintenance of the system of engineered levees and floodwalls, as well as the subsequent delayed and inefficient response and recovery efforts witnessed after Hurricane Katrina, were among the things responsible for its subsequent characterisation as an 'unnatural' disaster.
In this seminar, we will watch, listen to, and read a variety of cultural negotiations that deal with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, e.g. the HBO original series Treme (2010-2013), Spike Lee's documentary film When the Levees Broke (2006), and Josh Neufeld's graphic novel A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (2009) (not an exclusive list!). We will, among other things, discuss if and, if so, how these different 'life narratives' serve as counter-narratives to the dominant media images which flooded (pun intended) the news in 2005. Our investigation will be based in a discussion of different forms of media as well as critical texts from a variety of disciplines.
3 LP - a Studienleistung (and/or) grade - can be obtained by active participation and fulfillment of other activities which will be specified in the seminar.
A Lernraum will be made available.
Sources of commentary:
Adeola, Francis O. and J. Steven Picou. Hurricane Katrina-linked environmental injustice: race, class, and place differentials in attitude. Disasters. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016. Web.