Jazz women, gender politics, and the francophone Atlantic


Jazz women, gender politics, and the francophone Atlantic
Atlantic Studies
1478-8810, 1740-4649
This article explores the francophone bourgeoisie's class-based connection with advocates of race uplift in the United States, revealing the transnational similarities between middle-class French and American hopes and fears about racial representation through black “culture,” whether literary, artistic, or musical. It shows that, given this transnational context, jazz not only presented a real promise to black communities in representing their culture as innovative and civilized, but also posed a threat because of associations between jazz, primitivism, and sexually suggestive performances. Finally, it engages with the commentaries produced by black francophone women about black American performers in Paris and about black popular music. It argues that, in these commentaries, black French intellectual women began to explore how to move beyond the stereotypical images of black women generated by the jazz craze. This was a position marked by race uplift, but not necessarily a compromise position for black agency or a purely assimilationist stance. The article concludes that in the process of formulating a response to jazz, a set of literate French men and women of color began to define their own music – notably the Caribbean biguine style – against jazz and to promote it as a source of pride and racial identification. In doing so, they demonstrated an early instance of Negritude values intermingled with race-uplift concerns
Atlantic Studies
DOI.org (Crossref)