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Ostendorf, Berndt (2016): Creolization and All That Jazz: Culture Formation in New Orleans. In: Peprník, Michal (ed.) : Assimilation - A Good Or Bad Word? Proceedings of the 20th International Colloquium of American Studies, June 18–19, 2015, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic. 1. edition. Olomouc: Palacký University Olomouc. pp. 30-45
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Abstract

New Orleans was founded in 1719, situated on the nexus of three European colonial empires and three core cultures, France, Spain and Anglo-America. European settlers interacted (and mixed) with enslaved Africans, with free people of color, with Native Americans, and with migrants from Spain, Mexico, Canada, Germany, the Caribbean, the American colonies and Cuba. At the turn of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century there was massive immigration from France after the French Revolution and from St. Domingue after the Haitian revolution doubling the population. After the Louisiana Purchase (1803) this francophone Creole ancienne population was over-layered by an anglophone American port city with Irish, German, Jewish and later Italian immigrants creating a complicated political urban arena with a byzantine caste system and complicated racial order, but also with a range of unique subcultural fusions across the color line. As an urban space and in terms of culture formation New Orleans has more in common with the Caribbean than with North America. The Civil War and Reconstruction threatened to force the Caribbean city into an American mold, particularly in terms of race relations and public policy. But this pressure to assimilate to standards of anglo-conformity also energized culture formation processes that may best be described as antagonistic creolization. Over time this layering of historical scapes has given us Mardi Gras, the Second Line, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indians, gospel music and a unique set of cuisines which represent a cultural counterpoint and a permanent challenge to Anglo-Saxon habits of the heart. The crowning result of these processes of creolization has been to set up New Orleans as the cradle of jazz the only truly American art form and a true creole.