“Who Dat” Origins to be Discussed at Geography & Anthropology Friday Forum on Nov. 30

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/.

Ernie  Ballard 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012