Within days of the breach of the levees in New Orleans, a second man-made disaster—the “recovery” efforts—began to transform the city’s institutions, leaving many urban partisans afraid that New Orleans would be rebuilt along the model of other, more expensive, less habitable cities. In the decade since Hurricane Katrina, debates about gentrification have emerged to frame nativity—rather than class—as the chief indicator of pernicious neighborhood change. Part memoir, part polemic, this essay seeks to unsettle and critique that framing.

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