They Didn't Go in Those Houses: Katrina's X-codes, Race, and Practices of Memory

Frierdich, Matthew, Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Balfour, Katharine, AS-Dept of Politics, University of Virginia
Rubenstein, Jennifer, AS-Dept of Politics, University of Virginia

Following Hurricane Katrina and the federal disaster relief efforts, residents and commentators memorialized the "x-codes" as markings of survival, rescue, hopeful defiance, and duty. But what does it mean for this kind of artifact to play this role in memories of the disaster? Many popular renderings of the x-codes accentuate the hurricane and subsequent flooding’s “natural” destruction. And at the same time, other examples actually contest the discursive logics of disaster itself. This paper considers the possibilities of memorializing x-codes as practices of “counter-memory,” refracting this narrative frame of disaster rescue by employing different visual uses of the x-codes to illuminate racialized structural subjugation.

MA (Master of Arts)
Hurricane Katrina, Memory, Racism, Disaster politics
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