chapter  11
17 Pages

Un-knowing exposure: toxic emergency housing, strategic inconclusivity and governance in the US Gulf South


There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses.

(Michel Foucault 1978: 27)

Late in the summer of 2005, two hurricanes-Katrina, then Rita-tore into the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The damage spanned hundreds of miles of coastline, from East Texas to the Southwestern tip of Alabama. Between 1 and 1.5 million people were displaced. Regionally available rental units, hotels, and motels quickly reached capacity. After months spent shifting between the homes of friends, relatives, and shelters, some 300,000 internally displaced persons were eventually housed in approximately 120,000 travel trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These 250-square foot emergency housing units were deployed both to the driveways of homes-in-ruin, and to federally run trailer parks for those that possessed no real estate of their own.1