Cold War Carmen in US Racial Modernity
Abstract

Abstract:

This article addresses Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones (1954), the all-black-cast musical adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s nineteenth-century French novella Carmen. The racial discourses through which the novella portrayed the infamous Gypsy seductress were refigured in the musical, which exemplifies the early Cold War renegotiations of race and citizenship taking place in the United States. By eliminating the narrative of racial conflict present in Mérimée’s Carmen, the racially homogeneous universe of Preminger’s musical affirmed the United States as a racially exceptional nation, erasing the domestic context of racial struggle and the historical entanglement between European imperialism and US twentieth-century geopolitical supremacy.