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Gentrification flap rooted in an older debate over New Orleans ‘exceptionalism’ | The Lens


The rapid demographic changes in some of New Orleans’ older neighborhoods  have sparked consternation among locals as well as professional observers of the city. The firestorm over Richard Campanella’s article on gentrification is only the most recent flashpoint. Is what’s happening in places like Bywater best thought of as a renaissance or mere gentrification? And is there a difference?

As always, word choice is the lifeblood of any good dustup in the public square, and there are certainly other ways to frame the current debate. One of them, dating at least to 1803 and thus as old as Louisiana itself, pits New Orleans “exceptionalism” against “Americanism” as a model for progress.

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