Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Following the devastation of 80 percent of the city of New Orleans and the prolonged period of trauma due to levee failure and lack of effective emergency response in 2005, New Orleanian performing artists independently and along with national artists to create post-K performances as acts of restoration. This study explores post-disaster New Orleanian performances that engage with the interaction of personal story, place, and memory in response to disaster. How are these site-specific performances at significant sites of memory performative in the J.L. Austin sense? In the context of disaster, what are ethical implications of remembering? How may certain post-disaster performances animate community; sustain and convey cultural memory; reclaim lost spaces; incorporate marginalized stories; counter and resist master narratives; forge bridges of pre-and post disaster identities; and open an imaginative space to envision recovery. For this study I draw from the theoretical work of Jill Dolan, Peggy Phelan, Elin Diamond, Diane Taylor, Joseph Roach, Sylvie Rollet, Dwight Conquergood, James Thompson, Jan Cohen-Cruz, Sonia Kuftinec, Paul Connerton, and Pierre Nora to approach these performances. The act of making community visible to itself through the vehicle of story unleashes a performative power in these performances that follows conceptualizations of memory as embodied, connected to the present moment, and always in movement. These post-K performances engaging personal story, place, and memory take many forms: a bus tour, gutted home visitations, a communal feast, hauntings, an occupation, story sharing in community sites and in red tents, improvisational performance, and symbolic reclamation of iconic sites of disaster. How do these performances, through their overt process of recollection, inhabit a present moment and emphasize presence? How do these performances of memory invigorate a movement forward in the direction of recovery for communities reeling from disaster? This study looks most closely at LakeviewS: A Sunset Bus Tour by Home NOLA?; Paul Chan/Creative Time’s Waiting for Godot; Swimming Upstream coproduced by V-Day International and Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans; and the ongoing work of NOLA Playback Theatre in micro-community settings.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Fletcher, John