NOLA: a Caribbean State Post #12

ImageImage courtesy of rumandcocacolareader.com, depicts album of the 1950s French Creole songstress Leighla Whipper.

Why is New Orleans such a hotspot for tourism?  The above image may lend itself to the answer.  No other city has a tourist pull in the same way that NOLA does.  This is because no other American city has the same distinctive cultural quality–one that engenders the feeling of the “exotic,” but on non-exotic American soil.  Unlike the rest of America, Louisiana and New Orleans by virtue of history are citizens of the Caribbean.  The region’s colonization by the French and Spanish as well as their racial mixing with Native Americans and black slaves is defined within the Caribbean experience.  In short: New Orleans is Caribbean and part of the Caribbean world, it’s just annexed away on the North American continent.  So what, then, about the Caribbean makes it exotic? The warm weather in which multitude of vegetation and species flourish is nice, but why is it exotic? Exotic has many definitions: something foreign, something tropical or something sexual.  Each definition, I think, defines another–and the Caribbean’s exotic has all of the above.  The common demoninator is the sexual or lustful.  As NOLA resident and anthropologist G.O. Binder puts it, “To this day, Louisiana and New Orleans are ghettoized, pathologized, and exoticized in the American imgagination.” And as can be seen in the album cover, the sexuality of the exotic is what is being advertised.

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