B l a c k we l l Pu b l i s h i n g I n c M a l d e n , U SA S OI N S o c i o l o g i c a l I n q u i r y 0 0 3 8 - 0 2 4 5 © 2 0 0 8 A l p h a Ka p p a D e l t a X XX O r i g i n a l A r t i c l e s B OO K REV I EW ESSAY B OO K REV I EW ESSAY
After Katrina: A Second Generation of Books
(1) The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe , by David L. Brunsma, David Overfelt, and J. Steven Picou, eds. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2007. 288 pp. $29.95
(2) Through the Eye of Katrina: Social Justice in the United States , by Kristin A. Bates and Richelle S. Swan, eds. Carolina Academic Press, Durham, NC, 2007. 440 pp. $40.00
(3) Racing the Storm: Racial Implications and Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina , by Hillary Potter, ed. Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, 2007. 320 pp. $25.46
For 2 years after Hurricane Katrina left a city and a region in tatters, most writing on the storm consisted of journalistic description and critical essays. The most sociologically relevant of the few book-length works included three collected volumes, published between late 2005 and early fall 2006: Katrina: Rights and Responsibilities , edited by John Brown Childs; After the Storm: Black Intellectuals Explore the Meaning of Hurricane Katrina , edited by David Dante Troutt; and There Is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina , edited by Chester Hartman and Gregory D. Squires. These anthologies pulled together the small amounts of available information and their primary contribution was to frame elements of the disaster with historical background and political interpretation. These volumes from the first generation helped to contextualize the events and carry us over to the current period.
Now, in the third year since Katrina made landfall, we are witnessing the emergence of a body of social scientific scholarship that is based on data and draws more systematically from theory and literature. This second generation of sense making is the beginning of in-depth analysis of a wider range of topics related to the storm, with greater disciplinary accountability. I review three of these most recent works from 2007 here. Like their predecessors, all are collected volumes. The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe , edited by David Brunsma, David Overfelt, and J. Steven Picou is framed as a sociology of disaster text, although not all of the pieces are written by disaster scholars. Through the Eye of Katrina: Social
Sociological Inquiry , Vol. 78, No. 2, May 2008, 258–263 © 2008 Alpha Kappa Delta
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Justice in the United States , edited by Kristin A. Bates and Richelle S. Swan, is organized around inequality, specifically racial and economic (in)justice. And Racing the Storm: Racial Implications and Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina , edited by Hillary Potter, focuses on the racialized dimensions of the causes and effects of the disaster. Chapters in The Sociology of Katrina and Racing the Storm are primarily authored by sociologists, whereas Through the Eye of Katrina is more interdisciplinary, with just over half of the authors coming from the field of Sociology (many from Criminology and Justice Studies). The current volumes benefit, to varying degrees, from the data collection and research the additional year has brought, as well as the ability to address outcomes and implications beyond the immediate aftermath. These similarities not withstanding, the texts are different, and in some ways complement each other: The Sociology of Katrina is a data- and theory-driven collection, exhibiting the best of what sociology has to offer; Through the Eye of Katrina contributes an important, explicit focus on justice, equity, and resistance that is missing from the former; and Racing the Storm examines...