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The humanitarian disaster triggered by Hurricane Katrina exposed the racial violence and class domination that structures New Orleans and the broader U.S. South. In the immediate wake of the storm's destruction of the U.S. Gulf Coast, the state of Louisiana transformed New Orleans’ public schools into privately managed charter schools, while terminating thousands of teachers, staff, and school administrators. Drawing on ethnographic field research between 2013 and 2019 and spatial analysis, this talk explores the social impact of this neoliberal transformation by analyzing how the politics of space, place, and class in Black New Orleans have been impacted by the jettisoning of neighborhood public schools.
Justin Hosbey is a cultural anthropologist, interdisciplinary ethnographer, and Black studies scholar. He received his Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Florida in 2016, with a graduate certificate in the digital humanities. Broadly, his ethnographic work explores Black social and cultural life in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Mississippi Delta regions, focusing on the ways that southern Black communities articulate modes of citizenship that demand the interruption of racial capitalism and ecocide. His current monograph, We Don’t Do the Recovery School District: Education, Place, and Ecology in Black New Orleans, utilizes research methods from the digital and spatial humanities to understand and visualize how the post-Katrina quasi-privatization of neighborhood schools in low-income and working-class Black communities has fractured, but not broken, space and placemaking in Black New Orleans. Justin is also co-director of the Black Ecologies Initiative with Professor J.T. Roane of Arizona State University. Justin's work has been published in Southern Cultures, FIRE!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, and Current Research in Digital History, and his research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council.