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Race, Environment, and Crisis: Hurricane Camille and the Politics of Southern Segregation

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In August 1969 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast. We argue that the disaster caused by the Hurricane was an outcome of the entanglement between human and non-human agents. As a non-human agent, Hurricane Camille thrust the prevailing socio-economic situation in the segregationist South into the spotlight, with all its political and cultural ramifications – much to the annoyance of the local political elite that had long sought to isolate southern politics from civil rights and the desegregation agenda. Consequently, it (re)invigorated and furnished the civil rights movement and the politics defining that era with new arguments and approaches that would have been impossible to develop from the perspective of human agency alone. By examining both local and national press discourses relating to the crisis caused by Hurricane Camille in the state of Mississippi in August 1969, we argue that historical agency should not be seen in purely anthropocentric terms but as an entanglement between human and non-human events.

Keywords: Civil Rights movement; Hurricane Camille 1969; environment; non-human agency, crisis

Appeared or available online: August 3, 2022

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