New Orleans as subject: Beyond authenticity and exceptionalism



18 September 2014 - 20 September 2014


Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

This international conference brought together leading international scholars to question what lies beyond New Orleans’ exceptional history and authentic culture. The event was organised by Centre lecturer Thomas Adams and Matt Sakakeeny from Tulane University and featured a keynote address by Adolph Reed, Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a presentation from Centre lecturer Aaron Nyerges.

Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has witnessed an outpouring of scholarly interest across the social sciences and humanities. Much of this scholarship has opened up new lines of analysis regarding the city and its place in broader regional, national, and international contexts. At the same time, writing and research about New Orleans continues to romanticize the city as exceptional. In many accounts, New Orleans appears as an autonomous and a historical zone populated solely by unique social formations and authentic cultures, isolated from other postindustrial cities. This conference brought together scholars in anthropology, English, history, media studies, and political science to situate studies of New Orleans within larger global patterns and cross-cultural comparisons.


  • Dr Thomas Adams
    Dr Thomas Adams
    Senior Lecturer in History and American Studies, University of Sydney

    Dr Thomas Jessen Adams was previously a lecturer at the United States Studies Centre. He continues to be a Lecturer in American Studies and History at the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. His research and writing focuses on political economy, labour, social movements, urban history, and race, gender, and American politics.

  • Dr Aaron Nyerges
    Dr Aaron Nyerges
    Academic Director and Senior Lecturer in American Studies, United States Studies Centre

    Aaron Nyerges is the Academic Director and a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the US Studies Centre. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Sydney and a BA in Creative Writing from the State University of New York. His work focuses on the relationship between literature, media and geography.