AAA Annual Meeting Program

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This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Students
Type: Paper
Paper Title: MIGRATION AND CREOLIZATION IN THE ORIGINS OF THE SHOTGUN HOUSE IN NEW ORLEANS
Author: JAY EDWARDS (Louisiana State University)   
Date/Time: Sat., 3:45 PM
Co-Author(s): JAY EDWARDS (Louisiana State University) 
Abstract: The narrow vernacular dwelling referred to as the “shotgun house” by LSU geographer Fred B. Kniffen (1936) had become the dominant housetype in the city of New Orleans by the 1890s. Popular as inexpensive housing for laborers, it had diffused throughout middle North America, as far north as Kentucky, and from the Carolinas to Texas. Today, no less than eleven distinct types of linear cottages comprise a complex family of shotgun housetypes in New Orleans – all historically related to one another. The story of the rise of this remarkable house form is unparalleled in American architectural history, yet it has never been explained. This presentation will describe the complex configuration of sociocultural and economic forces which shaped and reshaped a tiny debased form of refugee housing surrounding the center of urban New Orleans in first decade of the nineteenth century. The rise of a large Afro-Creole class of New Orleans (Haitian refugees and Louisiana Creoles), and the peculiar configuration of their racial and gender identities, promoted the synthesis of earlier existing architectural forms with an imported tropical housetype, peculiar to their immediate needs. Thrust into a rapidly expanding urban environment, this stigmatized form of vernacular architecture was repeatedly reshaped and expanded through adaptive resistance and other processes of creolization. Shotgun evolution exemplifies patterns of transformation in world vernacular architecture, but in New Orleans shotgun forms were strongly influenced by waves of high-style architectural fads which swept across the South in the nineteenth century. So successful were these modifications that even by the Antebellum 1840s, this adaptable linear dwelling was being adopted by people of all ethnicities and walks of life—native Creoles, Anglo newcomers and foreign refugees. The story of the success of the shotgun house is relevant to sustainable recovery efforts in both post-Katrina New Orleans and post-earthquake Haiti.

Program Number: 4-0775
Session Title: THE ARCHITECTURE OF IDENTITY
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Sat., 1:45 PM-5:30 PM
Organizer(s): KATHRYN SAMPECK (Illinois State University) 
Chair(s): ELIZABETH SCOTT  
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