am-anth-journal

American Anthropologist 108(4):706-718

Morgan, David W., Nancy I.M. Morgan, and Brenda Barrett
2006 Finding a Place for the Commonplace: Hurricane Katrina, Communities, and Preservation Law. American Anthropologist 108(4):706-718.

Hurricane Katrina and its massive destruction drew attention to the commonplace markers on the landscape that create sense of place for a community. That connection between people and places that is crucial to peoples’ sense of corporate and individual identity and heritage.

There is a legal context for sense of place within extant federal preservation legislation. Nevertheless, many places on the landscape that have special meanings for those who live there have been overlooked in the system of federal documentation that has the National Register of Historic Places as its cornerstone.

Grassroots efforts and national media coverage has helped forge a niche for sense of place within the recovery plans and policy emerging in the impacted region. However, at this time it is unclear if this will carry over into practice. In terms of long term policy shifts, remedying the shortcomings Katrina highlighted may require changes to the National Historic Preservation Act and its associated guidelines and regulations, or may entail a new approach altogether.

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