Accepted paper:

Rebuilding with music: musicians and their importance for the survival of post-Katrina New Orleans


Geerke Bakker

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about the influence of Katrina on the music community of New Orleans. It explores the way Katrina had an influence on the music community and their notion of their importance for New Orleans and its rebuilding.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper it will become clear that situations change when one looks at the impact of a disaster after a longer period of time. Questions arise about the vulnerability of people and communities. Did this vulnerability change in the course of the years after the disaster? This change in vulnerability involves, in this subject, the social theory about the 'reinvention of the self'. Knowing that music plays a big role within the culture of New Orleans, one can state that the musicians and music are important for New Orleans' rebuilding and survival. The musicians are the ones that create a (sense of) place, something which is reflected in the fights and struggles that they go through to help the culture of New Orleans survive. The musicians experience, what may be termed as, a (cultural) revaluation. It is stated in this paper that the creation of a (sense of) place and the change in vulnerability of the musicians are part of a process that can be described as a 'reinvention of the self'. Katrina put New Orleans at risk of losing everything, something which made the city realize the value of their main cultural characteristic, the music. This paper will show that a disaster does not only mean devastation, but that there are also positive sides and opportunities created, an acknowledgement of the fact that for some people it can mean a new start that can have a positive effect on themselves and their community.

panel P095
Living with disasters: hazards, continuity and change