Siv B. LieJan 4, 2023
Hearing Ethnorace, Citizenship, and Jazz Manouche in France
University of Chicago Press 2021
Django Generations: Hearing Ethnorace, Citizenship, and Jazz Manouche in France (U Chicago Press, 2021) shows how relationships between racial identities, jazz, and national belonging become entangled in France.
Jazz manouche—a genre known best for its energetic, guitar-centric swing tunes—is among France’s most celebrated musical practices of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It centers on the recorded work of famed guitarist Django Reinhardt and is named for the ethnoracial subgroup of Romanies (also known, often pejoratively, as “Gypsies”) to which Reinhardt belonged. French Manouches are publicly lauded as bearers of this jazz tradition, and many take pleasure and pride in the practice while at the same time facing pervasive discrimination. Jazz manouche uncovers a contradiction at the heart of France’s assimilationist republican ideals: the music is portrayed as quintessentially French even as Manouches themselves endure treatment as racial others.
In Django Generations: Hearing Ethnorace, Citizenship, and Jazz Manouche in France (U Chicago Press, 2021), Siv B. Lie explores how this music is used to construct divergent ethnoracial and national identities in a context where discussions of race are otherwise censured. Weaving together ethnographic and historical analysis, Lie shows that jazz manouche becomes a source of profound ambivalence as it generates ethnoracial difference and socioeconomic exclusion. As the first full-length ethnographic study of French jazz to be published in English, this book enriches anthropological, ethnomusicological, and historical scholarship on global jazz, race and ethnicity, and citizenship while showing how music can be an important but insufficient tool in struggles for racial and economic justice.
Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see www.adambobeck.com.