Dr. Michael Pasquier connects with residents of the Gulf Coast.
The rapid recession of the Gulf Coast is an increasingly urgent topic of conversation, particularly for those living in areas that are directly and immediately impacted by its loss. This conversation is typically dominated by scientists, policy makers, engineers, and big-business executives; but what about the more than two million coastal residents who stand to lose the most, whose stories are seldom heard beyond their own rural communities?
Dr. Michael Pasquier, professor of history and religious studies at LSU and recent recipient of the Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship, hopes to give these seldom-heard voices a platform to share their experiences navigating the “complex relationship between people, land, and water.” For his upcoming project, titled “Coastal Voices,” Pasquier will travel to parts along the Gulf Coast, from Mississippi to Texas, documenting the experiences of those that live there and sharing them in the form of short documentaries and podcasts.
“The goal, first and foremost, is to collect and share stories from people who know the land and water best and most intimately. Sharing those stories is a very simple thing to do in a way; but it’s something that we forget in the numbers, in the science, in the data. And we’re kind of left wondering: Why are we doing all this? Who are we protecting?
“Whether it’s about working as a roustabout on an oil rig, or talking about the time they experienced a hurricane and how they fought back and rebuilt, or how they started a small business in a coastal region and how the changes to the environment have affected their financial well-being. Across the board, we’re really trying to just open it up and, in very simple and hopefully kind of elegant ways, let people talk and let their stories be heard.”
“Coastal Voices” will be on exhibition at LSU’s Center for River Studies and will also be represented by a website. The project will be active in late 2017/2018.