Andy Horowitz (Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Connecticut)
January 31, 2023
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2005, and the levees surrounding New Orleans failed, the city and its suburbs flooded, giving rise to America’s iconic modern disaster. Most accounts of Katrina focus on those few catastrophic days. But drawing from Andy Horowitz's Bancroft Prize-winning book, this webinar will widen Katrina’s frame—taking in New Orleans’ urban and environmental history from 1915 through the present—in order to see how the Katrina disaster’s causes and consequences reach across a century.
In doing so, the webinar will reconsider the idea of “disaster” altogether. Usually, the term disaster calls to mind an acute episode that arrives without warning or precedent. But as the emergent field of “critical disaster studies” suggests, disasters have histories. They are less discrete events than they are contingent processes. This alternative understanding of disaster suggests new, productive ways to study, teach, and address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other crises that seem often to define our age.