(Central European University)
Paper Short Abstract:
This paper explores attempts at localised forms of empowerment and the challenges of forming alliances of solidarity amongst residents and small NGOs in post-Katrina New Orleans where entrepreneurialism has become hegemonic as both growth strategy and managerial instrument.
Paper long abstract:
After hurricane Katrina, entrepreneurialism as a growth strategy and urban managerial instrument has become the hegemonic, political answer to industrial decline in New Orleans, which since the mid '80s has left the city to rely mainly on its tourism and service industry. Ten years after the storm, efforts to rebuild and 'reposition the city's brand' as the entrepreneurial hub of the US South by boosting small tech start-ups and offering generous tax exemptions for the movie industry, have dubbed New Orleans both 'the silicon bayou' and 'the Hollywood of the South' in various media outlets. Meanwhile, the past decade of urban restructuring and neoliberalization has elucidated the contradictions of 'entrepreneurialism as governance' as the acceleration of processes of gentrification and public disinvestment has further dispossessed already marginalised neighbourhoods and residents.
Drawing on research amongst small NGOs in the Lower Ninth Ward, this paper inquires into attempts at localised forms of empowerment and rebuilding complicated by internal competition for funding capital and volunteer labour as residents and actors working towards securing basic amenities for the public in the neighbourhood are required to act as enterprises within a reconfigured regional economy of competitive entrepreneurialism. Furthermore, I discuss the challenges of forming alliances of solidarity based on 'the community', which as the predominant claim, is continually contested amidst rapid demographic and spatial change.
Entanglements of coping and resistance: precarious living in (re-)peripheralizing regions