New version page

SSU ANTH 590 - Finding a Place for the Commonplace

This preview shows page 1-2-3-4 out of 13 pages.

View Full Document
View Full Document

End of preview. Want to read all 13 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a GradeBuddy member to access this document.

View Full Document
Unformatted text preview:

DAVID W. MORGANNANCY I. M. MORGANBRENDA BARRETTFinding a Place for the Commonplace: HurricaneKatrina, Communities, and Preservation LawABSTRACT The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina drew attention to commonplace landscape markers that create for a community asense of place—that connection between people and places crucial to a sense of corporate and individual identity and heritage. There is alegal context for sense of place within extant federal preservation legislation. Nevertheless, many such markers with special meanings forresidents have been overlooked in federal documentation, the cornerstone of which is the National Register of Historic Places. Grassrootsefforts and national media coverage have helped forge a niche for sense of place within the recovery plans and policy emerging inthe affected region. However, it is unclear whether this will carry over into practice. In terms of long-term policy shifts, remedyingthe shortcomings highlighted by Katrina may require changes to the National Historic Preservation Act and its associated guidelinesand regulations, or it may entail a new approach altogether. [Keywords: heritage law, historic preservation, Hurricane Katrina, NationalRegister of Historic Places, sense of place]HURRICANE KATRINA has brought to public viewsome of the social inequities that seem to behistorically rooted in our national system of heritagepreservation.1Demonstrating that such inequities exist anddiscussing how to overcome them have been central themesin academic and bureaucratic debates over the past 20 years.The media attention focused on the hurricane tragedy—particularly in tandem with accusations of institutionalracism targeted on the New Orleans evacuation debacle—has for the first time thrown the debate into a national fo-rum, with ordinary citizens, politicians, and urban plan-ners raising the issues that heritage resource profession-als and anthropologists have voiced to date mostly amongthemselves.The historic preservation movement in the UnitedStates, including the way preservation legislation is en-acted in daily practice, often preferences properties whosecontemporary stewards are relatively prosperous and welleducated.2This excludes many, if not most, places thatgive particular communities, however so self-defined, theirparticular identity. It excludes the commonplace and theseemingly inconsequential markers on the landscape thatanchor people to what they call home and to what theyidentify as their heritage.3This connection between peopleand the places they repetitively use, in which they dwell, inAMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 108, Issue 4, pp. 706–718, ISSN 0002-7294, electronic ISSN 1548-1433.C2006 by the American AnthropologicalAssociation. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of CaliforniaPress’s Rights and Permissions website, at http://www.ucpress.edu/journals/rights.htm.which their memories are made, and to which they ascribea unique feeling has broadly been called sense of place (e.g.,Feld and Basso 1996; Jackson 1984, 1994; James 2001; King2003; Ryden 1993; Stokes et al. 1997).The concepts of space, place, and landscape have al-ways existed in anthropology, but until recently anthropol-ogists neglected a focused consideration of sense of place.This began to change in the 1990s, with the publication ofsuch volumes as The Anthropology of Landscape (Hirsch andO’Hanlon 1995) and Senses of Place (Feld and Basso 1996).In the latter volume, Clifford Geertz (1996:259) pointedout that the category of “place” is uniformly absent fromthe tables of contents of ethnographies and the indexesof standard anthropological textbooks. Other basic cate-gories of human experience—kinship, family, gender, econ-omy, language, religion, and various additional staples ofanthropological analysis—are readily found in such con-texts. Regardless, place—one of the basic dimensions of hu-man existence—“passes by anonymous and unremarked”(Geertz 1996:259). Geertz went on to emphasize the absur-dity of this absence, because “no one lives in the world ingeneral” (1996:262). Now there is a growing body of bothanthropological and cultural resource management litera-ture devoted to explaining sense of place and exploring howpeople render space culturally and historically significantMorgan et al. • Hurricane Katrina, Communities, and Preservation Law 707(e.g., Ashmore and Knapp 1999; Birnbaum 1994; Evanset al. 2001; Goetcheus 2002; Haley and Wilcoxon 1997;King 2003; Mitchell and Lacy 1997; Parker 1993; Sebastian1993; Shull 1993; Stoffle et al. 2000; U.S. Forest Service andNational Park Service n.d.; Winthrop 1998b).The media coverage of Katrina’s impact on New Orleansand the central Gulf Coast brought national attention to theimportance of sense of place. From CNN to National Pub-lic Radio, from the New York Times to the Times-Picayune,members of the press corps and those they interviewed dis-cussed the importance of the relationship between peopleand place and the interweaving of cultural tradition andenvironment. The media highlighted how the hurricanedevastated the built environment, and how that impact,in turn, radically affected people’s lives, livelihoods, andcommunities.When local, state, and federal officials and the non-profit preservation sector first sought to calculate the hur-ricane’s impact on heritage resources, they initially turnedto the inventories of historic properties maintained by thestates and the federal government. It quickly became ap-parent that the majority of places the hurricane damagedor destroyed were not included in such inventories and,in fact, had never been considered for placement in them.There simply was no record of many of the common placeswhose loss people mourned, whose loss threatened thatmost intangible and critical sense of place tying people totheir community and to the landscape.This realization has created a unique situation for urbanand regional planning and heritage resource managementas the recovery and rebuilding process unfolds. Throughthe popular media and with extensive stakeholder involve-ment, community leaders and the general public are at-tempting to translate their concern over sense of place intopolicy. This is clear from the rhetoric emerging as partof the recovery and rebuilding processes. Whether senseof place will be maintained—perhaps even regenerated orreinvented—will


View Full Document
Loading Unlocking...
Login

Join to view Finding a Place for the Commonplace and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or
We will never post anything without your permission.
Don't have an account?
Sign Up

Join to view Finding a Place for the Commonplace and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or

By creating an account you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use

Already a member?