Development Drowned and Reborn
The Blues and Bourbon Restorations in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Clyde Woods
Edited by Jordan T. Camp and Laura Pulido 

A reframing of New Orleans's historical geography through the lens of Blues epistemology


"This sensitively edited, posthumously published work of the late Clyde Woods is of major importance for anyone interested in African American history and its radical traditions. Woods provides a powerful optic for understanding the long unfolding of black freedom movements across time, while also explaining the persistent reinvention and re-institutionalization of spatial and economic strategies of racial dominance. Insistently claiming the social life that has been made on the horns of white supremacy, Woods reminds us that the radical Reconstruction agenda remains unfulfilled—that even as racial despotism has demonstrated resilience and capacity for reinvention, so too has the 'Blues tradition' of struggle. The dialectic continues."
—Nikhil Pal Singh, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University, and author of Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy

"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

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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.

Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

Page count: 376 pp.
1 b&w images, 8 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Clyde Woods (1957–2011) was an associate professor of Black studies and acting director of the Center for Black Studies Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Development Arrested: The Blues and Plantation Power in the Mississippi Delta, and editor of In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina: New Paradigms and Social Visions.

Jordan T. Camp is a term assistant professor of American studies at Barnard College.

Laura Pulido is a professor of ethnic studies and geography at the University of Oregon.