Writing on the Wall: From Disaster to Doing Something


Writing on the Wall: From Disaster to Doing Something


Cindi Katz



Hurricane Katrina scoured the political economic landscape of New Orleans revealing the toll of decades of disinvestment in and ‘hostile privatism’ toward social reproduction in a city riddled with corrosive inequalities around class, race, and gender. Business and government have failed to address the social and economic needs of poor and working people in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. The toll can be seen in the unevenness of neighborhood and infrastructural recovery, the difficulty of establishing a stable workforce of residents, and the deepening of ongoing neoliberal tendencies toward privatization in education, healthcare, and housing. Focusing on these issues, we will look at the sorts of activism these failures have spurred. The discussion will center on community based political groups working to redress this situation in New Orleans, but will also connect their work to groups working elsewhere to draw out a ‘countertopography’ of activisms that interrogate the underlying politics and policies–explicit and implicit–that have undermind the social wage and produced this situation not just in New Orleans but all over the United States.

Publication Date



Hurricane Katrina, hostile privatism, inequality, neighborhoods, infrastructural recovery, privatization, activism, New Orleans


Emergency and Disaster Management | Inequality and Stratification | Public Affairs

Writing on the Wall: From Disaster to Doing Something