11/27/2012 03:35 PM
BATON ROUGE – The next LSU Geography & Anthropology Friday Forum will examine the
Louisiana sports phrase “Who Dat” with a presentation by Nicholls State University’s
Shana Walton, who testified in the recent “Who Dat” trial. Walton will present “Who
Dat as a Language Commodity: Copyright Law, Communities of Origin, and the Who Dat
Nation” on Friday, Nov. 30, at 3:30 p.m. in E130 Howe Russell Kniffen Geosciences
Complex. The event is open to the public, and a reception will follow.
Walton will discuss the findings of a research team initially hired by the National
Football League and later contracted by New Orleans businesses researched the origins
and ownership of the phrase “Who Dat” and the longer chant used by New Orleans Saints
fans at football games. The team focused on the three most widely circulated claims
of inventing the longer chant: St. Augustine High School in New Orleans; Patterson
High School in Patterson, La.; schools in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The team traced the origins of “Who Dat” as a distinctive phrase to the 1700s and
noted its shift from racial pejorative to in-group affiliation marker, to adoption
by sports fans, to symbol of a resilient city. The journey of the phrase offers a
window onto race relations in New Orleans. The end result is a marketable language
nugget, and compels anthropologists and folklorists to look more closely at the intersections
and power relations among communities that create desirable language; adopting communities,
such as the “Who Dat Nation”; and merchandisers. The research considers the following
questions: when do you feel like a phrase is part of your culture, and how does this
ownership get recognized?
The LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology is part of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. For more information on Geography & Anthropology, visit http://www.ga.lsu.edu/. For more information on Humanities & Social Sciences, visit http://hss.lsu.edu/.
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012