Consumable City: Race, Ethnicity, and Food in Modern New Orleans
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CitationMcCulla, Theresa. 2017. Consumable City: Race, Ethnicity, and Food in Modern New Orleans. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is an interdisciplinary history of race and ethnicity in 19th- and 20th-century New Orleans, told through the lens of food. It explores the diverse ways in which food functioned as a uniquely powerful, though virtually ignored, medium in enacting the exclusion of people of color. I argue that it was exactly because the consumption of New Orleans’s cuisine felt pleasurable and evanescent to locals and visitors that it seemed harmless and ahistorical, incapable of generating savage prejudices. Within the culinary realm, though, racist biases flourished. They inflicted far-reaching social, political, and economic damage on New Orleanians of color, yet their origins escaped notice. To tell this story, I integrate methodologies of history, material culture, and food studies to interpret postcards, stereographs, cookbooks, menus, souvenirs, markets, monuments, and restaurants. Long after the abolition of slavery, and increasingly within the arena of tourism, the Crescent City’s food industry continued to collapse person and thing, designating New Orleanians of color as consumable commodities who produced consumable commodities. In exploring how invented public memory became history in New Orleans, I shed light on the persistent inequalities of many American places and the means by which people of color resisted.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140192
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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