Rebuilding the "Land of Dreams": Expressive Culture and New Orleans' Authentic Future

Tulane University
Published August 29, 2006

Folklorist Nick Spitzer, host of Public Radio International’s American Routes, discusses the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans musicians and craftspeople and argues for their central role in rebuilding the city. He considers a repertory of New Orleans music filled with references to the city’s geography and past natural disasters, illustrating how contemporary musicians revisit and revise tradition.

Rebuilding the Land of Dreams


About Nick Spitzer

Nick Spitzer, folklorist and anthropologist, is known for his work with community-based cultures of the Gulf Coast, American vernacular music, musicians, craftspeople, documentary media, and public cultural policy. He is the creator and host of Public Radio International's weekly program, American Routes, based in New Orleans and heard on over two hundred and twenty-five stations. Spitzer was founding director of the Louisiana Folklife Program and senior folklife specialist at the Smithsonian Institution. He has produced ethnographic films, radio documentaries and CDs on traditional culture, and he is co-editor of the book Public Folklore (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992).
With the exception of the Q & A session, the video of Spitzer's lecture was made at Emory University on March 9, 2006 in a presentation sponsored by the American Studies Program. All contemporary images of New Orleans are used with permission from Nick Spitzer, unless otherwise noted. For information on historic images, see Recommended Resources. Documentary footage included in Part 4 of plasterer and Seventh Ward resident Earl Barthé creating a molding in his workshop is courtesy of Marjorie Hunt.


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