"Symbols and Systems: From Confederate Monuments to the Struggle Against Racial Capitalism in Neoliberal New Orleans."

Authors: Samantha Bowden*, Rutgers University
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Black geographies, racial capitalism, memory-work, social movements, cultural geography.
Session Type: Paper
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This talk will be a preview of my in-progress dissertation work which seeks to place a case study on the Southern-based Confederate monument conflicts within the long durée of social movement struggles against capitalist exploitation and white supremacy in the South. Under the guidance of local movement leadership in NOLA, this study uses a combination of regional history and digital humanities archival analysis, in combination with participatory observations from cultural tours and the creative works and "Blues epistemologies" of those on the ground to provide a theoretically and empirically rich account of a City who 1) successfully removed major Confederate monuments despite stiff public opposition; 2) moved beyond removal to create new public art works, and campaigns to address not just symbolic but material injustices as well. This paper talk will present my ongoing study's preliminary findings, which, it is hoped, will contribute to the literature and debates around Black-led placemaking, the politics of public memory/memorials, and questions of distributive and environment justice at the municipal scale while critically unpacking the shifting racial logic of the neoliberal state.

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