Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This study was undertaken to analyze the influence of hegemony on the creation of cultural identity-specifically the cultural identity of Morgan City, Louisiana-through the annual performance of the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival of that city. The information utilized in this study was assembled from a variety of sources: newspaper reporting from 1935 to 1999, chronicling the Festival and related subjects; works of several theorists in the area of ritual and performance studies; works that examine the concept of hegemony, principally from a Marxian perspective; anthropological studies of Gulf Coast commercial fishing cultures; reports by official State of Louisiana agencies, particularly in the area of petroleum production; histories of Morgan City and St. Mary Parish, Louisiana; numerous and varied works related to the area of Black history in Louisiana; and studies on ecotourism and the heritage industry. The principal conclusion derived from this study is that Morgan City has experienced several shifts in economic hegemony, all of which have been reflected through changes within the form and practice of the annual Festival. Firstly, the seafood production industry under the guidance of ownership interests, was able to establish a powerful economic hegemony that manipulated the Festival into a representation of local cultural identity that had the ability to attract outside celebratory interest as well as national advertising-both of which were used in the promotion of Morgan City products. When the seafood industry suffered a severe economic downturn, the petrochemical industry entered the area and set up an immeasurably more powerful economic force. Over time the Festival became dominated by destructive participation of transient oil workers; thus severely altering the perception of civic identity to both established local residents and outsiders as well. Local established residents contested for, and won back, control of the Festival and its symbols in an attempt to restore traditional values of civility to the community. To sum, economic hegemony is not necessarily cultural hegemony. In the absence of economic hegemonic leadership, civic resistance may appropriate the traditions, symbols, and prestige of ritual, thus forging a communally desired cultural identity.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

Les Wade