NEH banner [Return to Query]

Products for grant RZ-50992-09

The Roots of Creole New Orleans: Archaeological Investigations at St. Louis Cathedral and Ursuline Convent
Shannon Dawdy, University of Chicago

Grant details:

Patina: A Profane Archaeology (Book)
Title: Patina: A Profane Archaeology
Author: Shannon Lee Dawdy
Abstract: When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the world reacted with shock on seeing residents of this distinctive city left abandoned to the floodwaters. After the last rescue was completed, a new worry arose—that New Orleans’s unique historic fabric sat in ruins, and we had lost one of the most charming old cities of the New World. In Patina, anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy examines what was lost and found through the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Tracking the rich history and unique physicality of New Orleans, she explains how it came to adopt the nickname “the antique city.” With innovative applications of thing theory, Patina studies the influence of specific items—such as souvenirs, heirlooms, and Hurricane Katrina ruins—to explore how the city’s residents use material objects to comprehend time, history, and their connection to one another. A leading figure in archaeology of the contemporary, Dawdy draws on material evidence, archival and literary texts, and dozens of post-Katrina interviews to explore how the patina aesthetic informs a trenchant political critique. An intriguing study of the power of everyday objects, Patina demonstrates how sharing in the care of a historic landscape can unite a city’s population—despite extreme divisions of class and race—and inspire civil camaraderie based on a nostalgia that offers not a return to the past but an alternative future.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: press page
Publisher: University of Chicago
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 022635119X
Copy sent to NEH?: No

Profane Archaeology and the Existential Dialectics of the City. (Article)
Title: Profane Archaeology and the Existential Dialectics of the City.
Author: Shannon Lee Dawdy
Abstract: What does it mean to view the landscape dialectically? I here experiment with an approach inspired by Benjamin, the intent of which is to expand our understanding of dialectics beyond the structural Marxism that dominates urban geography. I seek to temper macro-level analyses of political economies with a recognition of micro-level processes of both active matter and human consciousness that can shape, constrain, or undo. In fact, the evidence of urban archaeology demands such attention. Expanding dialectics requires a rapprochement among the followers of Marx, Sartre, and even Latour. I use archaeological evidence from New Orleans, and standard modes of organizing it (the property history, stratigraphy, taphonomy), to critique broader approaches to urbanism and materiality. Archaeology has much to contribute to understanding the city as an ongoing human-object formation full of contradictions, affect, and contingency. Following Sartre, I call this existential dialectics. Humans make cities, but not exactly as they please.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Journal site, SAGE journals
Format: Journal
Publisher: Journal of Social Archaeology 16(1) : 32-55.