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Kauanui, Kehaulani


American Studies (AMST)




My thesis is an interdisciplinary study that fuses sociology and American Studies theories that are grounded in the tangible realities of differences in housing opportunities after Hurricane Andrew destroyed South Florida in August of 1992. The thesis uses theories of race and ethnicity and sociological networks to advance the American Studies production of knowledge by taking an historical approach to race and ethnic tension in South Florida and synthesizing this with quantitative and qualitative data collected before and after the storm. By taking both an historical and sociological approach to local housing discrepancies, the thesis suggests that the true disaster in Hurricane Andrew was caused by humans. It argues that important questions - Who lived where? Who could move? Who was most adversely impacted by the storm? - are all related to the central issue of who had the economic, social, and cultural capital necessary to shape the rebuilding of South Florida after Hurricane Andrew. The thesis is divided into three parts where chapter one examines the historical trajectory of race and ethnic conflict in South Florida, chapter two uses uses race and ethnicity as the theoretical framework to examine pre-Andrew housing in South Florida, and chapter three analyzes relocation and rebuilding patterns through the framework of economic, social, and cultural capital and sociological networks. Ultimately, I find that due to the historical specificity of Cuban immigration to South Florida, the Cuban community was able to build an enclave and use its economic, social, and cultural capital to largely reshape the South Florida landscape after the storm while the African-American and Haitian community remained divided and unable to obtain the forms of capital necessary to restructure the South Florida community in the months and years following Hurricane Andrew.



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