Abstract

This article shows that African American jazz performers created a cosmopolitan diasporic network through transatlantic touring during the interwar years. Successful black musicians and dancers lived in large international cities, or "cosmopolitan pleasure centers," to quote singer Florence Mills, and they performed in the international space of the nightclub. Most of them retained a strong sense of identity as black Americans and invoked their international experiences to criticize narrow racial practices in the United States. Collectively, these men and women forged a practice of black American cosmopolitanism that was transmitted back to America by way of the black press. Examining their experiences serves to interrogate and expand the idea of cosmopolitan practice, and understanding their experiences as cosmopolitan explains why the "jazz migration" was an important political and cultural phenomenon for the larger black American community at the time.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 471-496
Launched on MUSE
2010-11-06
Open Access
No
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