At Home in Our Sounds: Music, Race, and Cultural Politics in Interwar Paris

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Abstract

At Home in Our Sounds: Music, Race, and Cultural Politics in Interwar Paris shows how and why music became part of the enormous social changes and challenges Europe faced in the aftermath of World War One. It focuses on the story of black music in Paris and the people who created it, enjoyed it, criticised it and felt at home when they heard it. Examining the way African Americans, French Antilleans, and French West Africans wrote, danced, sang, and acted politically in response to the heightened visibility of racial difference in Paris during this era shows they were consumed with questions that continue to resonate today. Could one be black and French? Was black solidarity more important than national and colonial identity? How could French culture include the experiences and contributions of Africans and Antilleans?

From highly educated women, like the Nardal sisters of Martinique, to the working black musicians performing everywhere at all hours, At Home in Our Sounds gives a fully rounded view of black reactions to jazz in interwar Paris. It places that phenomenon in its historic and political context, and in doing so shows how music and music-making formed a vital terrain of cultural politics. It shows how music-making brought people together around pianos, on the dancefloor, and through reading and gossip, but it did not erase the political and regional and national differences between them. It shows that many found a home in Paris but did not always feel at home.
This book reveals these dimensions of music-making, race, and cultural politics in interwar Paris.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages260
ISBN (Print)9780190842703
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

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