Lower Ninth Ward flooding

The flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward explained and performed on a map by climatologist Barry Keim from Louisiana State University on his Hurricane Katrina & Environmental Tour of Metropolitan New Orleans at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) 2018. Many thanks to Barry for geographical insights and stories told of life and death in New Orleans now and then.

The clip was recorded at the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Platform, located at the end of Caffin Avenue at the intersection with Florida Ave. The spot is worth visiting as it offers further information on the ecology of the Main Outfall Canal situated behind the Lower Ninth Ward.

For information on why the Katrina disaster was man made and not ‘natural’, see the grassroots website levee.org.

As an urban geographer and ethnographer, I could not resist to film some of the more performative aspects of the tour and the ways geographers talk about and listen to how cities are transformed over time. Using maps is of course just one geographical thing to do on a field trip. Other spatial practices and gestures of interest: pointing at landscape features, taking pictures, taking notes, searching for shadow, walking and talking, categorising spaces, moving and looking around, group behaviour (such as getting on and off the bus), personal (geographical) conversations (e.g. ‘where are you based’) and many more.

(Recorded on 11 April 2018. Video published courtesy of Barry Kim)

Author: ignazstrebel.net

Ignaz Strebel is an urban geographer and senior scientist at the University of Lausanne. His research is on the social and material practices that make up and transform urban systems. Using ethnography and audio-visual projects, he currently researches building care work, energy infrastructure services and the transformation capacities of prefabricated buildings.

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