This chapter explains how continuing “recontextualizations” (Briggs 2005:273) of Katrina survivors’ stories reveal the dialogic nature of personal narratives made public, and explores applications for the framework of public disaster. When personal narratives are adapted to uphold dominant narratives, they let audiences off the hook in terms of ethical obligations to the survivors whose stories they consume. This chapter argues that instead, when texts emerge from extensive interviews with real people—mirroring ethnographic research and methods—then they ought to also include the turn that ethnography has taken to the reflexive, the reciprocal, and the dialogic. Ultimately, survivors’ challenges to their own generalized representations should be incorporated into the discourses of disaster, especially because as the case of Katrina has demonstrated, those discourses have a great deal to do with response, memory, and recovery.
Keywords: Recontextualization, Dialogic, Application, Reciprocal ethnography, Ethics