"What is the organic relationship between music as performed and music as lived? Development Drowned and Reborn puts New Orleans back in the forefront of national and international debates about race, capitalism, sustainability, and social change. It is a necessary starting point for the potential rebirth of New Orleans as well as the renewal of the United States as a society that comes to grips with its troubled past to build an equitable and sustainable future. A magnificent achievement."
—Paul Ortiz, Director, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida
"In this beautifully complex study of New Orleans, edited by Laura Pulido and Jordan T. Camp, Clyde Woods rehistoricizes black and black diaspora geographies with precision. In Development Drowned and Reborn, Woods tracks a range of plantation bloc-logics and shows how they engender praxes of black life—inside and outside New Orleans, past and present—that cannot be contained by prevailing knowledge systems. What emerges is a monumental project that understands how the brutality of racial capitalism provides the conditions to develop and sustain a variety of sacred intellectual movements and creative acts. This is not an easy genealogy of black geographies—the spatial and analytical reach of Woods’ project understands black geographic life in New Orleans as underpinned and interrupted by the social and political economies of indigenous and nonblack communities, as well as the regions of the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Africa, and beyond. These spaces are read with and through black musicologies—bass cultures, gospel narratives, gumbo blues, and more—and in this Woods’ brilliant blues epistemology is illuminated. Development Drowned is an urgent study of black life, one that that imagines new political futures as emerging from the grounded, inventive, and longstanding aesthetics of freedom."
“Development Drowned and Reborn situates Katrina flooded New Orleans as a central focus of our nation’s history. The world renown birthplace of jazz and the pre-twenty-first-century major port city connecting America to the Caribbean, South America, and the Atlantic world, New Orleans is critical to both a cultural and economic understanding of the United States. Clyde Woods and his cohorts did the hard work of excavating, researching, analyzing, and documenting a political economy that is too often hidden and obfuscated. We think we know New Orleans because the city is legendary, but in truth, we seldom grasp its realities and deep relevance. Uncovering its cultural and historic conditions, contradictions, conflicts, and confusions, Development Drowned and Reborn makes sure that we know what it means to understand New Orleans."
—Kalamu ya Salaam, poet, social activist, and author of The Magic of Juju: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement
Development Drowned and Reborn is a “Blues geography” of New Orleans, one that compels readers to return to the history of the Black freedom struggle there to reckon with its unfinished business. Reading contemporary policies of abandonment against the grain, Clyde Woods explores how Hurricane Katrina brought long-standing structures of domination into view. In so doing, Woods delineates the roots of neoliberalism in the region and a history of resistance.
Written in dialogue with social movements, this book offers tools for comprehending the racist dynamics of U.S. culture and economy. Following his landmark study, Development Arrested, Woods turns to organic intellectuals, Blues musicians, and poor and working people to instruct readers in this future-oriented history of struggle. Through this unique optic, Woods delineates a history, methodology, and epistemology to grasp alternative visions of development.
Woods contributes to debates about the history and geography of neoliberalism. The book suggests that the prevailing focus on neoliberalism at national and global scales has led to a neglect of the regional scale. Specifically, it observes that theories of neoliberalism have tended to overlook New Orleans as an epicenter where racial, class, gender, and regional hierarchies have persisted for centuries. Through this Blues geography, Woods excavates the struggle for a new society.
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