Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sportsmen increasingly identified Louisiana as a destined paradise due to the abundant flora and fauna. Confirmed in the legendary visits of Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s, the conception soon served a dual purpose as individuals like the Tabasco Sauce patriarch, E. A. McIlhenny, coopted the visualization as a lure for business investment into the nascent industrial interests within the coastal region of the state. However, it should be noted that in the 1930s and beyond, cultural conservationists like McIlhenny and Caroline Dormon preserved elements of under-documented cultures throughout the state, although usually in a patronizing tone. Such efforts are commendable when considering the vast transformations that swept Louisiana, particularly visible in the transfiguration of the formerly isolated Bayou Region into a bustling hub of economic activity. Such a transition is apparent through works of popular culture like A Louisiana Story (1948), among others, that depict the local inhabitants, sometimes offensively, and landscapes in transition during the 1940s and 1950s and markedly include a definition of white cultural ascendance related to attainment of social uplift and sporting principles. What popular culture erases, however, is that development in the “Sportsman’s Paradise” often wrought destruction on the flora and fauna of the state. Decisions to develop and manage ecosystems in the interest of human settlement and economic activity are particularly apparent in the disappearance of rare ornithological species like the ivory billed woodpecker and the simultaneous push of the whooping crane to the brink of extinction. These changes also led to the increasing disappearance of a public commons most apparent in the Atchafalaya Flood Basin and coastal Louisiana.

If there is no access to and enjoyment of natural landscapes and species, efforts of conservation, preservation, or restoration will fail. It is important to consider the narrative of both past successes and failures to inform the audience on the various means by which conservative valuations of nature create an increasingly privatized paradise designated only for the few who can afford it while alienating much of the population.



Committee Chair

Michael Pasquier