“What is life without a home? And how long does it take to grow a new one?” asked writer and filmmaker Kalumu ya Salaam at the conference, After Katrina: Transnational Perspectives on the Futures of the Gulf Coast, held on the Tulane University uptown campus on Friday (Nov. 15).
The Cross the Canal Steppers strut their stuff at their annual second-line in February 2012 on Elysian Fields Avenue in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)
Sponsored by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and organized by Anna Hartnell, a visiting scholar from the University of London, the daylong conference brought together local activists, artists, lawyers and academics.
“My research is attempting to trace the ways in which post-Katrina New Orleans might offer a commentary on the contemporary United States,” said Hartnell.
“The conference confirmed my sense that studying post-Katrina New Orleans cannot remain a purely academic endeavor: It has to engage with the perspectives of artists, activists and organizers "on the ground" who are directly experiencing the ways that the city has been reshaped after the storm.”
Ya Salaam pointed to the mental anguish that is still present in the community, with psychiatric units in hospitals running at capacity.