Crossing the pond : jazz, race, and gender in interwar Paris
Laura L. Frader
Timothy Brown, Judith Tick
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Arts and Sciences. Department of History.
Black Atlantic, Black music, Interwar France, Jazz, Josephine Baker, Race
Between 1920 and 1939 the nightclubs of Montmartre became a venue where different nationalities came into contact, danced, talked, and took advantage of the freedom to cross the color line that Paris and the "color-blind" French audience seemed to offer. The fascination for black performers known as the tumulte noir provided the occasion for hundreds of jazz and blues performers to migrate to Paris in these years. French society was inundated with the sounds of jazz and also with images and stereotypes of jazz performers that often contained primitivist, exotic and sexualized associations. The popularity of jazz and its characterization as "black" music raised the question of how the French state dealt with racial difference. It caused consternation among "non-jazz" black men and women throughout the Francophone Atlantic many of whom were engaged in constructing an intellectual pan-Africanist discourse with a view to achieving full citizenship and respect for French colonial subjects. This manuscript examines the tension between French ideals of equality, and "color-blindness," and the actual experiences of black men and women in Paris between the wars. Although officially operating within the framework of a color-blind Republican model, France has faced acute dilemmas about how to deal with racial and ethnic differences that continue to spark debate and controversy. This project contributes to understanding the historical foundations of such situations by analyzing the clash of French reactions to African-American performers and French colonial immigrants of color in the interwar years.
Rachel Anne Gillett
Gillett, Rachel Anne, "Crossing the pond : jazz, race, and gender in interwar Paris" (2010). History Dissertations. Paper 3. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000237
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