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AfromodernismsParis, Harlem and the Avant-Garde$
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Fionnghuala Sweeney and Kate Marsh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748646401

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748646401.001.0001

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Black Modernism and the Making of the Twentieth Century

Black Modernism and the Making of the Twentieth Century

Paris, 1919

(p.19) Chapter 1 Black Modernism and the Making of the Twentieth Century

Tyler Stovall

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter identifies the negotiations around the Treaty of Versailles as a shaping condition of European modernity, and as providing a foundation for the emergence of Afromodernist political and cultural practice in the French metropole. It points to 1919 as a key moment in the reconfiguration of diasporic sensibility following the radical changes in European political formations and social structures wrought by the Great War. It argues that the coincidental hosting of the Pan-African Congress of 1919 in Paris with the arrival of jazz in the city allows the moment to be characterised as a major juncture in the development of black responses to the newly emergent world order, influencing the conceptualisation of blackness as a unifying political category. Arguing that comparable dynamics drove both black politics and black culture in post-war Paris, the chapter points to the interlinked strategies of ‘complicity and resistance’ that informed them, and were to set the stage for the political responses and cultural innovation that were to follow.

Keywords:   Treaty of Versailles, European modernity, Afromodernism, jazz, blackness, complicity, resistance

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