After Katrina

Race, Neoliberalism, and the End of the American Century

By Anna Hartnell

Subjects: Cultural Studies, African American Studies, Urban Studies, Postcolonial Studies, American History
Paperback : 9781438464183, 288 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438464176, 288 pages, March 2017

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: “Is This America?”

Part I: American Time

1. New Orleans and Empire: Legacies from the “Age of Revolution”

2. New Orleans and Americanization: “Progress,” “Decline,” and Tourism in the Twentieth Century

Part II: Katrina Time

3. Documenting Katrina: The Return of the “Real”

4. Resisting Katrina: The Right to Return

Part III: New Orleans Time

5. New Orleans and Water: Remapping Ecologies of the Gulf South

6. New Orleans and the Nation: Legacies from the Future

Select Bibliography

Argues that post-Katrina New Orleans is a key site for exploring competing narratives of American decline and renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century.


Through the lens provided by the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, After Katrina argues that the city of New Orleans emerges as a key site for exploring competing narratives of US decline and renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Deploying an interdisciplinary approach to explore cultural representations of the post-storm city, Anna Hartnell suggests that New Orleans has been reimagined as a laboratory for a racialized neoliberalism, and as such might be seen as a terminus of the American dream. This US disaster zone has unveiled a network of social and environmental crises that demonstrate that prospects of social mobility have dwindled as environmental degradation and coastal erosion emerge as major threats not just to the quality of life but to the possibility of life in coastal communities across America and the world. And yet After Katrina also suggests that New Orleans culture offers a way of thinking about the United States in terms that transcend the binary of national renewal or declension. The post-Hurricane city thus emerges as a flashpoint for reflecting on the contemporary United States.

Anna Hartnell is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, and the author of Rewriting Exodus: American Futures from Du Bois to Obama.


"After Katrina not only enters the growing field of Katrina studies in conversation with a number of works (and adds richly to their perspective) but successfully marries a variety of topics meriting serious scholastic inquiry in an effective and intelligent work. " — European Journal of American Studies

"As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking … extraordinary and highly recommended. " — Midwest Book Review