Authors: Helen A. Regis*, Louisiana State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Urban Geography
Keywords: New Orleans, memory, monuments, tourism, festival, landscape, social movements
Session Type: Paper
While monuments to the Confederacy in the city were being debated, taken down, and placed into storage, other monuments were being erected at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This paper takes a somewhat off-kilter angle on the confederate monument debates by considering the explicitly and implicitly racialized memorials to pivotal figures in the history of a festival dedicated to celebrating African American music, heritage and culture. What kind of memorial landscape is created the gated festival and how does the materiality of that landscape resonate with (or clash with) memorial landscapes in public sites outside the festival? How do specific actions to politicize specific confederate monuments potentially inform or reframe the meanings of previously depoliticized monuments inside the festival? Specifically, in the context of a history of African American political activism around Jazz Fest claiming Jazz as their cultural property, how do memorials to African American musicians and others rest uneasily within a city and region replete with confederate and lost cause nostalgia? What processes, within a capitalist marketplace, determine whose contributions are monumentalized and how? This papers juxtaposes long-term ethnography and archival research with current monumental debates to consider these questions in the politics and materiality of the memorial landscapes inside and outside the gates of the Festival.