The AAG announced President Derek Alderman’s 2018 Presidential Plenary: “When the Big Easy Isn’t So Easy: Learning from New Orleans’ Geographies of Struggle.” The session will be held during the annual AAG meeting in New Orleans in April 2018.
“When the Big Easy Isn’t So Easy” creates a space to explore the role of struggle in the making, unmaking, and remaking of New Orleans. The city’s development has long been a power-laden process in which multiple identities, histories, and social interests converge, mix, but also clash.
Panelists, all of whom are civically engaged scholars and gifted geographic storytellers, will highlight not only the (Post) Katrina experience but also the deeper historical and geographic roots of struggle in New Orleans.
Among the panel are Richard Campanella, a prolific author of several books on New Orleans, including his most recent Bourbon Street, and also producer of lively online content. He earned his M.S. in 1993. Currently he is a geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture and arguably is the unofficial geographer-in-residence for New Orleans.
Michael Crutcher completed his Ph.D. in 2001. His dissertation focused on the struggles to protect public space in the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans and appeared in book form as Tremé: Race and Place in a New Orleans Neighborhood in 2010.
Rebecca Sheehan earned her Ph.D. in 2006 with a dissertation that explored the struggles to define public use of the French Quarter. She is currently an Associate Professor of Geography at Oklahoma State University and is working on issues related to public monuments.
Craig Colten left LSU in 1978 with an M.A. degree in geography. After a number of years pursuing his Ph.D. and subsequently working in government, the private sector, and the academy he returned to teach at LSU in 2000. In 2005 he published An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature.
Two other panelists are Laura Pulido at the University of Oregon and Catarina Passidomo at the University of Mississippi.
Alderman recruited panelists who are civically engaged scholars and gifted geographic storytellers. They will take the audience to evocative spaces and moments, using the opening session to open broader discussions of issues such as black lives and geographies, disaster response and recovery, food justice, water-society relations, the politics of public memory, and urban political economy. Panelists will reflect on the larger academic-political lessons from New Orleans, offer ideas for (re)imagining the future of this city and others, and demonstrate how geographers can learn from and with the host cities for our AAG meetings.