The body rockers : New Orleans "Sissy” Bounce and the politics of displacement



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This dissertation in an ethnographic analysis of the ways in which black cultural performance is mobilized to produce and maintain social relationships and space in times of economic and sociocultural displacement. New Orleans Bounce music is a dynamic cultural performance of locality and blackness that prompts conflicting debates about the meaning of identity, place, and cultural heritage in “post-Katrina” New Orleans. Focusing on “Sissy” Bounce, an emergent subgenre defined by sexuality and gender, I investigate its significance as an expression of blackness marked by deviance within the socio-historical context of "post-Katrina" New Orleans. Specifically, the project frames “Sissy” Bounce as a cultural medium for the production of black space in a time of crisis, and argues that Bounce's symbolic form frames "queerness" as a tool of survival for young black people facing the politics of displacement, disorientation, and disaster. The quick rise of Bounce to national popularity has made it representational of the deviant black dancing body within the national imagination. Consequently, this dissertation also asks how these dances and representations effect meanings of blackness at home and throughout the nation? What does the resonance of “Sissy” Bounce in New Orleans and among its diaspora tell us about the political significance of queerness and displacement as nodal points of the contemporary black experience in the United States? The “Sissy” Bounce music scene’s ubiquity points to the resilience of black people living on the margins of family, community, and nation.