Becoming Blight: Property and Belonging in Post-Katrina New Orleans


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores emergent forms of belonging in post-Katrina New Orleans through the lens of property and the concept of blight. There are more than 40,000 vacant properties in New Orleans. These properties have increasingly become a target for urban renewal through the city’s “fight against blight.” Through an ethnography of the shifting contours of ownership and indebtedness, this study sheds light on new forms of precarity that have come to characterize much of the US since the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. By bridging expert and everyday perspectives on vacant properties, it offers a lens through which to view contemporary transformations in urban landscapes and reveals how emergent—though conflicting—notions of belonging are intertwined with material indicators of development.