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Black Music & Performance in New Orleans

Adapted from Tulane University ADST 3550

This course provides an historically situated introduction to African American music and performance traditions in New Orleans. The course opens with an exploration of the historical currents and racial economies that contributed to the making of New Orleans as a particularly Caribbean-esk site of early colonial North America. The course then considers the ways culture, race, and plays of social power gave rise to early "creolized" forms of cultural practice and artistic expression, foundational to the fashioning of black New Orleanian music and performance traditions. The syllabus then follows this conversation chronologically through a thematic exploration of various African American performance genres and spaces from Congo Square, to jazz, to brass bands and second-lines, to Mardi Gras Indians, through today's hip hop and bounce musics. Additional attention will be given to the social impacts of tourism and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on black performance traditions, questions of citizenship, and related economies of consumption.

Course PDF

Marc D. Perry

Sociocultural Anthropologist

Dr. Marc D. Perry is a sociocultural anthropologist with a research specialization in race and racialization in the African Diaspora with a regional emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean. His research and teaching interests include: black transnationalisms; comparative racial formations; Afro-Latino migrations; African American cultural history; and black musics and performative culture. He is currently completing a book project examining race and social transformation in late socialist Cuba through the ethnographic lens of Cuban hip hop, and is in the early stages of research exploring the changing socio-racial landscape of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Course Chapters

  • About This Chapter

    Founded in 1718 as a French colonial trading post on the Mississippi roughly 100 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico,…

  • About This Chapter

    It was in the "back of town" peripheries of the original walled city of colonial New Orleans (known today as the…

  • About This Chapter

    Among the many celebrated prodigies of New Orleans' music traditions, probably the single most influential innovator and global emissary of its…

  • About This Chapter

    New Orleans' brass band lineage can be traced to parading traditions of eighteenth century military marching bands, including those organized by…

  • About This Chapter

    New Orleans' annual Carnival festival known popularly as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), emerged in many ways from the post-Civil War period…

  • About This Chapter

    While officially classified as a nature disaster, the induced social trauma and devastation wake of hurricane Katrina in the 2005 had…

  • About This Chapter

    Taking distinctive shape in the early 1990s, New Orleans' local hip hop landscape emerged in important part from the cultural intimacies…