LAURA ELIZABETH McTIGHE, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2015 to aid research on 'Born in Flames: Black Feminist Resistance in the Prison Capital of the World,' supervised by Dr. Courtney Bender. Renamed 'This Day, We Use Our Energy for Revolution: Black Feminist Ethics of Survival, Struggle, and Renewal in the New New Orleans,' this research is a collaborative ethnography of activist persistence, researched and written alongside southern black women organizers amid the social change they effect in New Orleans today. Grounded in eighteen months of fieldwork at Women With A Vision (WWAV) -- a quarter-century black feminist collective -- this dissertation explores the remaking of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina from the perspective of black women's political lives. Two closely connected events frame this study: On March 29, 2012, WWAV overturned a law criminalizing sex work as a 'crime against nature;' two months later, still unknown arsonists firebombed WWAV's headquarters. By peeling back the histories of violence and struggle that surround these events, this project reckons with what it means to build home and political vision amid the everyday terror that so-called recovery efforts have wrought. It reads against the presumed boundary between the secular and the sacred to theorize the material and spiritual labor of subverting the near constant surveillance. Stitching across generations of southern black women organizers, this study contributes a theoretically rigorous and dynamic public understanding of the ethics of survival, struggle, and renewal among those accorded neither a legible past nor a collectively foreseeable future.
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
McTighe, Laura Elizabeth, Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Born in Flames: Black Feminist Resistance in the Prison Capital of the World,' supervised by Dr. Courtney Bender