UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The road away from home : policy and power in post-Katrina New Orleans Rosenman, Emily


In this thesis I explore several intersections of hurricane recovery, urban planning, housing assistance, and neighborhood organizing in post-Katrina New Orleans. These intersections include the mobilization of particular kinds of evidence in redevelopment planning, the construction of “community” and “neighborhood” in the aftermath of disaster, and the changing geographical scale of community development in a post-disaster environment. Hurricane Katrina has inspired a huge amount of research; much of which has been written from either a policy or hazards/disaster perspective. I argue in Chapter 2 that the disaster literature on Hurricane Katrina can benefit from engagement with literature on urban governance and the politics of civic engagement. Similarly, I propose in Chapter 3 that economic analyses of pre-and post-Katrina data must be contextualized by the post-Katrina politics and social realities of New Orleans. In this chapter, I explore the effects of depoliticizing the issue of affordable housing in New Orleans. In engendering public uncertainty about the reliability of housing data, powerful landlords and politicians avoided a debate on housing access and instead focused legislative attention on a seemingly counterintuitive question: is there too much affordable housing in New Orleans? In this chapter, I find that a preoccupation with questions about the accuracy of housing data became a tool to shut down political debate and to present subsidized housing as a nuisance to New Orleans neighborhoods and, more threateningly, to the city’s housing market as a whole. Through in-depth interviews and observations of public meetings, Chapter 4 explores neighborhood-scale participation in the governance of post-Katrina New Orleans. In this chapter I analyze the manifestations of civic involvement in three hurricane-damaged neighborhoods and find that civic participation inside or outside of formal political structures yields different results for New Orleans’ neighborhoods, and that some avenues of participation are more easily visible than others. Finally, this thesis concludes with some reflections on persisting inequalities in the post-hurricane recovery process and the New Orleans’ upcoming plans to standardize neighborhood participation in urban planning.

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