Blues Epistemology, Community Resilience, and COVID-19 in the Mississippi Delta
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This research examines how the blues-based cultural economy of the Mississippi Delta has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Situating the pandemic within the broader history of racial inequality in the region, I use geographer Clyde Woods’s conception of blues epistemology as a lens through which to interpret stories and histories told to me by African American musicians that were born into the blues, and how they were impacted by the pandemic. My findings demonstrate that Black blues musicians have been among the most severely affected by the pandemic, but have relied on collective agency and community resilience to overcome disruptions to the tourism-based cultural economy these communities depend on for their livelihoods. In addition to providing empirical evidence of current challenges facing Delta communities, this case study improves understanding of the dynamic interplay between cultural economy, ways of knowing, and collective agency and community resilience.