I’m interested in engaging more deeply with the concept of Negrophilia, considering it alongside claims of 1920s Paris as being a less openly-racist environment than the United States, and learning more about how related assumptions, attitudes, and actions are manifesting in today’s world.
Negrophilia seems to have been a far-reaching, easy position to take in 1920s Paris, and yet we are now able to reject it as a generalizing, surface-level, disrespectful fascination, rather than a serious consideration and celebration of the practices of cultures different from one’s own. What socially-accepted yet problematic practices and points of view do we perpetuate today, unknowingly (or perhaps just lazily) blind to their detrimental effects? What can we do to recognize the harms of something so seemingly insignificant in its individual acts–such as repeating degrading lyrics along with “everyone else” or borrowing ideas from artists or cultures without giving due credit– without having to wait a hundred years for our actions to be scrutinized by scholars distant from our present reality? And have we really moved beyond our shameful practices of days past?
I think that one way I can consider these questions is within the guidelines for our second paper: looking at an institution such as the Paris Conservatory or one of the music halls in which Parisians were first exposed to jazz, I can question who was involved in and who benefitted from the courses taken or taught or the performances given. And, I can compare the institution’s 1920s practices with those of today, to see what has changed and what has remained the same. I’m excited to have found some articles and books that seem to have intriguing background information about the context in which these complexities converged and that engage with both race and gender issues. Hopefully they will help me decide which institution would be most exciting and relevant to choose as a focus for my second paper.