Imageability and Justice in Contemporary New Orleans
ABSTRACT In the highly contentious rebuilding debates that emerged in New Orleans
after the 2005 hurricanes, neighbourhoods were compelled to use rhetorical methods to
solicit funding and municipal support for reconstruction. The stakes were particularly
high for the Lower Ninth Ward; a neighbourhood the city was reluctant to rebuild.
In New Orleans, notions of ‘justice’ were multiple, variable, and instrumental to the
Lower Ninth Ward’s ‘right to remain’ assertions. To discuss the ways in which the ‘just
city’ was conceived after the hurricanes, the paper draws from the work of John Rawls, Iris
Marion Young and Hannah Arendt. Kevin Lynch’s notion of imageability is employed to
discuss the centrality of spatial representations in debates over justice and rebuilding. The
paper concludes by illustrating this theoretical framework in Lower Ninth Ward efforts to
circumvent the municipality’s exclusionary rebuilding plans.