‘Just another hurricane’: the lived experience of everyday life in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill

Bates, Seumas Talbot Gordon (2014) ‘Just another hurricane’: the lived experience of everyday life in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3111637


This thesis offers an ethnographic analysis of everyday life in a post-catastrophe landscape shaped by two major disaster-processes – Hurricane Katrina (in 2005) and the BP oil spill (in 2010). By exploring local cultural ‘becoming’, it argues that the impact of these disaster-processes should not be conceptualised within a bounded period of ‘recovery’, but should be understood as forming part of the on-going construction of local landscape and everyday lived experience.

The community of southern Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, where this study was based, has an on-going relationship with hurricanes and oil spills, which occur (or threaten to occur) with such frequency as to normalise the experience of disaster in local social life. Katrina and the BP oil spill were outliers of experience due to their vast scale and relative impact, but they were experienced by a community where local narratives of past catastrophes (such as the major hurricanes of the 1960s), and the direct experience of multiple smaller disaster-processes were deeply woven into local culture.

Furthermore, beyond the impact of these catastrophes this community was already experiencing widespread cultural and economic precariousness. Firstly, where local hierarchies of power (largely centred around White men) had become increasingly threatened in the latter part of the 20th century, and secondly, where local economic activity was characterised by high levels of instability and irregular employment. These catastrophes were therefore experienced in a context of already on-going structural precariousness, which in turn was impacted by the on-going ‘recovery’ from these large disaster-processes.

It argues that while material or institutional reconstruction may be successfully measured in terms of recovery goals or milestones, the cultural impact and ‘recovery’ from these catastrophes should be conceptualised as forming part of the never-ending process of ‘becoming’, ultimately woven into the on-going experience of mundane everyday life.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Anthropology of disaster, disaster studies, disaster recovery, multiple catastrophes, process of 'becoming', normalised disaster and the everyday, cultural and economic precariousness, Hurricane Katrina, BP oil spill
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Pickering, Dr Lucy and Oldfield, Dr Jon
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Mr Seumas T.G. Bates
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-6435
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2015 16:02
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 10:48
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6435

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