Down and Out in New Orleans

Transgressive Living in the Informal Economy
by Peter J. Marina
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Publisher: Columbia University Press

Series: Studies in Transgression

Publication Date: September 05, 2017

ISBN: 9780231545198

Binding: Kobo eBook

Availability: eBook

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In the years since Hurricane Katrina, the modern-day bohemians of New Orleans have found themselves forced to the edges of poverty by the new tourist economy. Modeling his work after George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, the sociologist and ethnographer Peter J. Marina explores this unfamiliar side of the gentrifying “new” New Orleans. In 1920s Paris, Orwell witnessed an influx of locals and outsiders seeking authenticity while struggling to live with bourgeois society. Marina finds a similar ambivalence in New Orleans: a tourism-dependent city whose commerce caters largely to well-heeled natives and upper-class travelers, where many creative locals and wanderers have remained outsiders, willingly or otherwise.

Marina does not merely interview these spirited urban misfits—he lives among them. Down and Out in New Orleans follows their journeys, depicting the lives of those on the social fringes of a resilient city. Marina finds work as a bartender, street mime, and poet. Along the way, he visits homeless shelters, squats in abandoned buildings, attends rituals in cemeteries, and befriends writers, musicians, occultists, and artists as they look for creative solutions to the contradictory demands of late capitalism. Marina does for New Orleans what Orwell did for Paris a century earlier, providing a rigorous, unrelenting, and original glimpse into the subcultures of a city in rapid change.