In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Hundreds of people died, many of them in the Lower 9th Ward, which was hardest hit by storm surge and flooding. In some areas of the Lower 9th Ward, houses were moved by the force of the water over a block from their original location.
In many cases all that remained were the front steps. Often made of concrete and anchored to the ground, these stairs remain as reminders of both a horror, and of home and hearth. This book is an invitation to contemplate these simple but liminal structures, steps, which serve as silent witnesses to Katrina. This book is an opportunity to climb these stairs in our minds, so that we may know their incongruous frustration and futility, yet also glimpse fervent faith and hope.
This book is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina. At the same time, this book pays tribute to the courage and determination of the returning residents of the Lower 9th, and to all New Orleans.
My work is focused on the interactions between humans and nature in the aftermath of natural disasters and war. I am particularly interested in how these interactions relate to social-ecological system resilience, or in other words, how humans and their interactions with nature are related to a system's ability to bounce back after being disturbed. I approach this work as a "hybrid" anthropologist/ ecologist and draw heavily from fields such as ecological anthropology, social-ecological systems resilience theory, and international relations theory. Sub-disciplines and areas of interest include Community Forestry, Community-Based Natural Resource Management, Ecological Engineering, Cultural Anthropology and Symbolism, Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management, and SSTR (Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction). An emerging area of inquiry and practice is Civic Ecology.