Document Type


Subject Area(s)

African American Studies, Black Education, Social Foundations, School Reform


Drawing on Adkins’ (1997) notion of reform as colonization and using ethnographic data from African American teachers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, this article discusses how black educators’ fictive-kinship (Fordham 1996, Chatters, Taylor, and Jayadoky 1994, Stack 1976) networks have been altered in the changing landscape of reform. I argue that the importance of fictive-kinship relationships among educators and students was ignored in school-reform efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans. Post-Katrina school reforms disrupted, but did not destroy, these fictive-kinship networks. I discuss three themes: (1) fictive-kinship networks created before Katrina cultivated an environment centered on cooperation, collaboration, and solidarity, (2) fictive-kinship networks allowed black educators to advocate on behalf of their students, which included supporting the nonacademic needs of students, and (3) black educators used existing fictive-kinship relationships to build resiliency in their students. Fictive-kinship relationships among educators and students can inform our understanding of resiliency in African American schooling and thus contribute to deeper knowledge of school-reform efforts in New Orleans.


Cook, D. A. (2010). Disrupted but Not Destroyed: Fictive-Kinship Networks among Black Educators in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Southern Anthropologist, 35(2), 1-25,

© Southern Anthropologist 2010, Southern Anthropological Society