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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Disaster Recovery Volunteerism and Intersecting Inequalities: A Case Study of Post-Katrina New Orleans

  • Author(s): Breckenridge-Jackson, Ian
  • Advisor(s): Reese, Ellen
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

Over one million volunteers travelled to the Gulf Coast to engage in recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, and most chose New Orleans as their destination. To study these disaster recovery volunteers in post-Katrina New Orleans, this dissertation uses a survey of volunteers as well as interviews with volunteers, volunteer coordinators, and New Orleans residents. Chapter 1 contextualizes the Katrina disaster and the convergence of volunteers that followed in the framework of anti-black genocide, the neoliberal racial state, and the nonprofit industrial complex. Chapter 2 develops a typology of nonlocal disaster volunteers: Servants (service oriented), Activists (social justice oriented), and Tourists (travel oriented). Chapter 3 finds that volunteers have positive impacts but also have negative impacts that reproduce intersecting race, class, and gender inequalities. Chapter 4 finds that volunteering impacted women in positive ways, including empowerment through masculine labor, and negative ways, including a gendered division of labor and gender harassment. I conclude that volunteerism is a double-edged sword best understood through an intersectional feminist lens.

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