". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Is It Always Culture vs. Progress?

Campanella votes that it is all good, because we're still moving.  He concludes:

As for our "Big Issue," I suggest that progress does not destroy culture; on the contrary, it breathes new life into it. Culture is ever-experimenting, evolving, discarding, borrowing and inventing. It's in a state that a physicist might call "dynamic" rather than "static equilibrium." Static equilibrium is what keeps a chair upright. Dynamic equilibrium is what keeps a moving bicycle upright. A moving bike stands up because it's making progress, not despite it; it only falls down when it stops. So too, I believe, culture.
 We have two centuries of evidence demonstrating that the progress and conflict currently dominating headlines not only do not threaten the culture of New Orleans, but rather promise to enrich it.
Richard Campanella, a geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture, is the author of "Bienville's Dilemma, Geographies of New Orleans," and other books, as well as an upcoming (2014) cultural history of Bourbon Street. He may be reached at or

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