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Research

My forthcoming book, After Katrina: Race, Neoliberalism, and the End of the American Century (SUNY Press, 2017), situates post-Katrina New Orleans in the context of US nationalism, globalization and neoliberalism, and current debates about US decline. It examines the conflict between problematic pre-Katrina constructions of New Orleans as past in relation to the United States, and equally troubling post-Katrina projections of the city as a neoliberal laboratory for national and transnational futures. Through an exploration of cultural representations of the city - literary, cinematic, visual, musical, political, journalistic etc. - with particular reference to movements for racial and environmental justice, the book explores the commentary the post-storm city offers on contemporary America.

This book was completed as part of an AHRC early career fellowship in 2013/14, during which I spent three months in New Orleans as a visiting scholar at Tulane University, where I organized a conference titled After Katrina: Transnational Perspectives on the Futures of the Gulf South. The latter part of the fellowship was dedicated to exploring the wider horizons of the project which culminated in a conference held at Birkbeck in London: Rupture, Crisis, Transformation: New Directions in US Studies at the End of the American Century.

This recent project picked up on many of the themes explored in my first book, Rewriting Exodus: American Futures from Du Bois to Obama (Pluto, 2011). This book examines the genealogy of the Exodus narrative in African American thought in the twentieth century, against the contemporary backdrop of the election of Barack Obama, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the post-9/11 US landscape. Chapters on Obama, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Toni Morrison and Hurricane Katrina explore Exodus as a vehicle through which black American thinkers and activists have articulated often vexed relationships to American exceptionalism, as well as to wider diasporic links with black Atlantic and Jewish traditions.

New research continues to focus on issues around racial and environmental (in)justice and the theme of US decline.