An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
Posted on July 2, 2013
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Christopher Lirette, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • 1. Incidentally, Gregg was never executed because he escaped from Georgia State Prison the night before his scheduled execution in 1980, only to be beaten to death in a bar fight in North Carolina. Texas executed the nation's first post-moratorium prisoner in 1982, Charles Brooks, the first person to be executed by lethal injection and the first African American executed since 1967.
Posted on June 19, 2013
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Sarah Melton, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

Posted on May 23, 2013
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Alan G. Pike, Emory University

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The doctrine of "fair use" is an increasingly important concept for scholars, libraries, and universities as digital technologies continue to change the ways that we research, publish, and teach in higher education. The United States Copyright Office outlines its "fair use" policy in Section 107 of Title 17 of the United States Code, enumerating "various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research." The limits of fair use doctrine continue to spark controversy as academic publishers, university libraries, and scholars debate the issue in federal court

While Southern Spaces does not have a specific "fair use" policy, we sometimes make fair use claims when justifying our occasional use of copyrighted material. As Sarah Melton discussed in a May 2012 blog post, we often wrestle with questions of fair use when finding media for our blog, our featured images posts, and the works of our authors. In March, we published a talk by Erich Nunn entitled "Hillbilly Records, Zulu Yodels, and the Sounds of a Global South" which uses the copyrighted work of Jimmie Rodgers, Hugh Tracey, and the Columbia Pictures Corporation. When we feel it is necessary to justify our fair use of such material, we record our "fair use" justifications and permissions information in the template associated with the piece. 

Screenshot of Southern Spaces "Edit" page showing the "Permissions and fair use" field.
Screenshot of Southern Spaces "Edit" page showing the "Permissions and fair use" field.

These justifications vary with each piece and are not public information. Rather, we include this step in our publication process to be sure that we pay special attention to issues of fair use and have an archive to turn to if copyright holders decide to challenge our use of their work. How do other online scholarly publications justify fair use of copyrighted materials?

Just for fun, I strongly recommend viewing A Fair(y) Use Tale, a brief video essay on fair use by Eric Faden, an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Bucknell University.

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Posted on May 8, 2013
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Christopher Lirette, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • Brood II, a billions-strong legion of cicadas, is expected to emerge later this summer and overrun the East Coast from North Carolina to Connecticut. Despite the scary name, this bug muster is no cause for alarm as magicicadas, the particular type of cyclical cicadas Brood II belongs to, have no mechanism for chewing (meaning they cannot bite you), instead sucking nutrients from plant sap. To attract female cicadas, the males of the species congregate in trees to form a deafening chorus that can reach up to 100 decibels—roughly as loud as a Ducati Monster 796. After a two-week shore leave in cities such as Washington, DC and New York City, the brood spawned by Brood II will tunnel underground and remain there for the next seventeen years. Then, Brood II will rise again.
  • Last year, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana State Legislature instituted a voucher system that would give parents the choice to use money the state had allocated to pay for their child's public education to pay private school tuition. Tuesday, May 7, 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that using this money outside the public school system is unconstitutional. Louisiana Justices also noted that the funding mechanism for the voucher system was not really valid anyway, since it only received fifty-one rather than the required fifty-three votes in the House and was filed late. It is unclear now where the money for the vouchers will come from, though the state committed to funding the private education of almost 8000 students through the voucher program just last week.
  • Also on Tuesday, South Carolina's first congressional district voted to elect former Governor Mark Sanford to fill Congressman Tim Scott's seat in the House of Representatives. Last December, Governor Nikki Haley appointed Congressman Scott to replace Senator Jim DeMint's seat in the Senate after the former senator stepped down to serve as president of The Heritage Foundation. This left a vacant seat in the House. Former Congressman Sanford, despite causing a great scandal in 2009 by covering up a romantic affair in Argentina with a story about hiking the Appalachian Trail, ran against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the Director of Business Development at Clemson University and, incidentally, sister of faux-Republican comedian Stephen Colbert. Although this district has not elected a Democrat to Congress since conservative Democrat Mendel Jackson Davis retired from office in 1981, the race was too close to call coming into election day. Congressman Sanford will be up for reelection in 2014.
Posted on April 29, 2013
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Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University

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Today Southern Spaces published Edward A. Hatfield's essay "A Well-Tied Knot: Atlanta's Mobility Crisis and the 2012 T-SPLOST Debate," which surveys the challenges of transportation planning in the Atlanta metro region by unraveling the complex history of the contentious T-SPLOST (Transportation Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax) initiative that was defeated in a 2012 referendum.

"A Well-Tied Knot" joins Southern Spaces' growing collection of interdisciplinary, multimedia scholarship on the Atlanta metro region—a collection we have titled "Changing Atlanta." Readers interested in such work might also be interested in the new Atlanta Studies Network, which "connects scholars, activists and residents with one another around a shared interest in Atlanta."

If Hatfield's essay on the T-SPLOST referendum inspires you to join this debate, please consider leaving a comment by using the form below.

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Posted on April 23, 2013
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Alan G. Pike, Emory University

in

The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • In Atlanta, two historic African American churches potentially stand in the way of plans to build a new, billion-dollar football stadium for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. The first, Friendship Baptist Church, was founded before the end of the Civil War and has stood at its current location since 1880. Spelman and Morehouse Colleges were founded in First Baptist. Also, Maynard H. Jackson, Sr., the father of Atlanta's first black mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., was the church's head pastor until his death in 1953. The other church, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, has occupied its current space since 1955, having already moved several times due to development in the area. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and other local business leaders are in negotiations with the churches over their properties and promise significant investments in the neighborhood in which the churches are located if they agree to relocation.
  • On March 29, Exxon-Mobil's sixty-five-year-old Pegasus pipeline burst in Mayflower, Arkansas. The town, which lies twenty-five miles northwest of Little Rock, was inundated with an estimated 210,000 gallons of heavy crude oil from Canadian tar sands as a result of the spill. The aging pipeline runs from Illinois to Texas and its rupture forced the evacuation of twenty-two homes in Mayflower. Area residents and environmentalists are concerned that neither Exxon-Mobil nor the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (the government entity overseeing the cleanup) are prepared to deal with a spill of this type of oil of this magnitude. Compared with those associated with ordinary oil drilling, the processes required to extract, process, refine, and clean up tar sands oil are "complex, energy-intensive, and expensive." While this spill is unusually large and has received significant media attention, it is but one of the hundreds of "significant incidents" involving oil pipeline spills reported to the US Department of Transportation each year.
  • On April 17, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded killing 14 people, injuring hundreds more, and damaging or destroying buildings within a half-mile radius of the blast. The cause of the blast is still unknown. The plant, which is owned by Adair Inc.'s West Fertilizer Company, produced anhydrous ammonia (a liquid crop nutrient) and stored upwards of 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, an extremely volitile solid fertilizer which was used in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Despite the presence of these dangerous and explosive chemicals, the plant has not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 1985, and the company filed a 2011 report with the Environmental Protection Agency stating that there was "no" risk of fire or explosion at the plant. While Texas lawmakers suggest that increased regulation would not have prevented the blast, many labor and workplace safety groups are calling for increased regulations and more funding for OSHA enforcement.
Posted on April 17, 2013
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Christopher Lirette, Emory University

in
Katie Gillett. The Post-Grad Hipster's Guide to Inhabitable U.S. Cities. 2011.
The dual attraction of New Orleans. From Katie Gillett, The Post-Grad Hipster's Guide to Inhabitable U.S. Cities, 2011.

Since I left New Orleans for good in 2007, I hear more and more stories of twenty- and thirty-somethings of my demographic—and by my demographic, I mean hipsters with MFAs in creative writing—moving there. Apparently, this is a trend, so says Richard Campanella, a geographer with Tulane's architecture program, in "Gentrification and its Discontents: Notes from New Orleans." In this article, he ties this migration southward to so-called "revitalization" movements that displace generally poor and African American residents. He posits a four-phase cycle, each phase representing a different influx of people into a particular neighborhood, each phase a wave carrying with it progressively more intense collateral gentrification. According to Campanella, this is the process of New Orleans gentrification: first, gutterpunks squat in poor neighborhoods near "historic" or touristy areas; second come hipsters; third, the cultural capital accrued by young artist types attracts bourgeois bohemians; and finally, the rich arrive.

While I find this model to be convincing, it is also reductive. There's a too-neat linearity at play—one that elides both institutional forces that lure writers and artisanal bread makers into poor and working-class neighborhoods and other neighborhood life-cycles that somehow remain in a not-quite-attractive-enough limbo. For instance, even as Campanella uses the Bywater as an example of NOLA-gentrification par excellence, he ignores the relocation of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) to a twenty-three million dollar campus in 2000, paid for by the state of Louisiana.1 Nevertheless, the streamlined process Campanella enumerates seems to be a fair representation of NOLA gentrification. It was just before Hurricane Katrina that the neighborhood around NOCCA began to be seen as a hip option—at least in my experience.

Which is to say that Campanella's analysis is compelling to me because I did live in New Orleans, knew the gutterpunks and proto-hipsters who dropped out of Tulane's English program to colonize blighted houses in the Bywater, washed dishes in their bathtub, never showering, barely wearing shoes. I still have strong familial ties to greater NOLA thanks to my wife, whose family is scattered throughout the city and its suburbs. Professor Campanella uses fleeting biographical details in his essay, adding to his geographical, statistical, and historical evidence the heavy authority of being an "insider." My question here is what role experiential knowledge has in making arguments about a space, whether we take for granted that extensive time living and working and loving and playing in a place gives us a special sort of access to some "truth," whether we can (or should) escape our emotional attachments to (or severed from) a place.

Take the comments on Campanella's essay. The earliest, posted by local writer Mark Folse, links to a blog post he wrote in 2005 prophesying the coming of a sterile, museum culture post-Katrina. Another comment, whose author notes he moved from Brooklyn to live in the Bywater after Katrina—more or less proving Campanella's schema—claims that "Bywater is more like Fort Greene and NOTHING like Williamsburg,"2 referring to Campanella's glib reference to people apparently comparing Bywater to the Brooklyn neighborhood. This commenter criticizes Campanella's characterization (using statistics) of the Bywater as taking a turn toward a white majority, using this bit of evidence: "I see whites, blacks, Vietnamese, Hispanics, and every other color on my street every day. We live in a community of many cultures, not a white gated one."

Richard Campanella, Post-Katrina gentrification hot spots, New Orleans, 2012. From Campanella's Bienville's Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans, 2008.
Richard Campanella, Post-Katrina gentrification hot spots, New Orleans, 2012. From Campanella's Bienville's Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans, 2008.

The most interesting comment is by a person named 12ward, who levies against Campanella charges of outsidership, ignorance of the local, poor research skills, and lack of comparative perspective. One way to say this is that Campanella's account doesn't match 12ward's own experience of New Orleans. 12ward says, "This sounds like a guy who got here yesterday and lacks even the most basic 2005–2008 city infrastructure/operation knowledge." 12ward asks, "I know you claim to live here . . . but have you actually talked to ANYONE here?" The rest of his 1,584 word comment/counter-essay contains lists of dates, events, and brief personal and speculative narratives that attempt to amass a wealth of local (and professional?) credibility with which 12ward might be able to challenge Campanella's political position and analysis of population trends. In the course of this jeremiad, we learn that 12ward has worked as a public school teacher, has been homeless, moved to New Orleans for his vegetarian wife (who loves it there!), housed FEMA workers for free in October 2005, lives Uptown, and considers himself well versed in history.

12ward's hostility3 seems to stem from two places: 1) a misreading of Campanella's "white teapot" map (a map Campanella made to illustrate the racial distribution of New Orleans and where gentrification is currently underway), and 2) a disagreement with the political dimensions of Campanella's argument. 12ward conflates the plotting of white people with the plotting of gentrification hotspots; nowhere does Campanella argue that all white New Orleans neighborhoods are gentrified, only that gentrification tends to occur near areas that are considered "historic" and are near well-to-do-neighborhoods (which are generally white in NOLA). The second root of 12ward's problem, the political implication of Campanella's reading, is more interesting.

Infrogmation, Photo of the front steps of a Bywater home, 2008.
Infrogmation, Photo of the front steps of a Bywater home, 2008.

Ultimately, 12ward defends the non-native New Orleans creative class, a defense that at once privileges the economic, aesthetic, and cultural tastes of the outsider, the colonizer, the upper class, while also staking a claim—through experience-knowledge and pseudo-scholarly posturing—of ownership of a place. Campanella's argument—that gentrifiers run the risk of both supplanting the working class population and turning the neighborhoods they renovate into sterile neighborhoods-qua-museums—is one that could be extremely insulting if you consider yourself a progressive, civically engaged, culturally aware transplant to NOLA. It undermines the "super native" project of nouveau-New Orleanians. It reminds them that they enjoy living in a place that was once a home of poverty, misery, and rot but is now a well-joindered house full of wifi and Restoration Hardware, that they immerse themselves in a culture and locality they did not grow up in, and that they do these things because they can afford to. On the other hand, Campanella recognizes this even as he appeals to the same logic of biographical locality: after using the birth of his son to illustrate the paucity of babies in New Orleans, he categorizes his family as "category-3 types, I suppose, sans the 'bohemian,'" referring to his four-phase cycle, to himself as a member of the bourgeois-scum class, and echoing the official designation of Hurricane Katrina, a category-3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Campanella's article becomes a call for New Orleanians of all sorts to have more children and make the city friendlier to families. On all other issues—the injection of liberal and progressive ideology into a more conservative population, the frenetic cultural adoption and reenactment by newcomers, the emphasis on making every enclave of well-educated, arts-oriented, internet-blogging, artisanal-food-making twenty-somethings more like Williamsburg—Campanella remains equivocal. He seems concerned that where once there was life there will soon be empty space bordered by lovely walls. Although it is hard to tell from 12ward's mean, reactionary, and occasionally absurdist4 diatribe, he shares a concern for wanting to preserve the place he lives in as a place of life, a concern that manifests through the use of experience-knowledge as an authority that trumps all other sources of knowledge. 12ward's comment yearns for the reader to share not just the eyes and politics of the interpreter, but his mythos and autobiography as well. This reliance on the personal experience of the writer, the appeal to insider knowledge, the individual interpretation—however well-meaning and progressive—is yet another gentrifying move, one that is both precious and consumptive, sentimental and displacing.

  • 1. This is the number my wife (NOCCA '04) told me when I asked her on Gchat how much the building cost. She calculated this number by remembering how when she would lean on the walls as a student at NOCCA, teachers told her, "Don't lean on the wall: this is a twenty-three million dollar building." I call this method for conducting geographical/infrastructural analysis the "ask a friend" method.
  • 2. This is surely the best evidence that Bywater is in fact Williamsburg: there's nothing more "Williamsburg" than claiming that something you do is more like Fort Greene.
  • 3. 12ward's language is very hostile, using words like "fuckall," "bullshit," and "abortion." 12ward doesn't like hipsters (as he assumes Campanella's point was to attack hipsters), and claims that it isn't hipsters who move into poor neighborhoods, it's "[g]ay men and women. (by and large gay men)." When attacking Campanella's history, 12ward uses the debate tactic "What about x?"—x being a litany of decontextualized dates or event names or neighborhoods—especially in defending gentrifying neighborhoods as racially diverse or in attacking Campanella's sketch of how gentrification has occurred in the past.
  • 4. 12ward muses, "as for the hipsters. do you fear them? This city has the power of temptation in the swamp. It will de-bone and devour a good number of them in so many ways. No matter WHAT you do, and every few years, (think of what I mean) this city will remind you of your safety obsession folly."