Imagining the Anthropocenic City: The New Face of Urban Renewal in New Orleans and Josh Neufeld’s A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

Maxwell Woods


Following Hurricane Katrina, critics noted that most neighborhoods of New Orleans which failed to recover had previously been heavily populated by African-Americans and the working classes. Josh Neufeld’s graphic novel, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (2009), which depicts the experiences of six New Orleans residents during and after the storm, reflects this theorization. For instance, of Neufeld’s characters only one, a rich white resident whose home lies on high ground, avoids flooding and displacement. A.D. presents a geography in which wealthier, white neighborhoods are less vulnerable to extreme climate events than African-American and/or lower-income neighborhoods. Yet this misses a key characteristic of the emerging geography not only of contemporary New Orleans but of the world of climate change in general: post-catastrophe recovery is becoming a function of who can afford it, not of who is most affected by the disaster. In the case of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina provided white urban capital the opportunity to engage in one of the largest urban renewal programs in American history: the socioeconomic footprint of African-Americans and the poor was reduced in order to consolidate the world of the white middle- and upper-classes. In addition to Neufeld’s narrative, which represents the emerging geography of climate change as one in which a white, monied world is spared the forces of the Anthropocene and made the de facto center of power, I argue that the United States’ unequal geography of climate change is created through de jure political decisions and urban planning.


Anthropocene; urban planning; New Orleans; vulnerability; comics; Hurricane Katrina

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