This paper examines the effect of the New Orleans street-based musical tradition on communities in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Specifically, it focuses on the extent to which second lines (weekly mobile block parties) enable the city's communities to rebuild successfully after the storm. There is much theory and literature exposing the ways in which art and culture respond to disaster and can be used as a resource to improve economies as well as communities. This study adds to this discourse by showing how the musical tradition of New Orleans has developed as an integral part of community cohesiveness. Collected largely from personal interviews with musicians, this data reveals four primary themes regarding the relationship between the cultural community and its musical tradition: the treatment of musical celebration as a way of life, the healthy infrastructure of the community of working musicians, the discrepancy between how the culture industry has been rebuilt and how physical infrastructure has been rebuilt, and a marked animosity towards institutional authority. The data shows that New Orleans cultural organizations and the musical tradition they support provide a healthy infrastructure for community solidarity through a culture of celebration. While this social capital serves to effectively mitigate various social ills, it is less effective at fighting the root cause of these problems because of the nature of the musical tradition. Given this, the underlying infrastructure of cultural organization may be able to help communities influence the external forces that manage much of the rebuilding process.


Fitz Gibbon, Heather


Music; Sociology and Anthropology


Civic and Community Engagement | Other Music | Social Psychology and Interaction

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2013 Micah Motenko