The ACRAH/CAA2023 session will be “Harlem-on-Thames: NY/LON, 1919-1939.” The panel will be held on Zoom, February 16, 2023 at 9:00am EST.
Harlem, in the interwar era, was a space of avant-gardism. Groundbreaking forms of visual art, music, fashion, and popular dance, produced by Black artists, were received as racialized forms of modernism. Among those who recognized Harlem’s novelty and power and traveled there to experience it were white British artists who positioned themselves as iconoclasts: for them, Harlem was a realized site of modernity, where there were few social restraints upon expression. Simultaneously, enterprising Blacks from the United States and colonized countries in the Caribbean and Africa traveled to London, pursuing greater freedoms and career opportunities. There, they were part of interracial collaborations in concert dance, film, and musical productions; they mingled in liberal, social circles and pursued relationships across class, sexual, and racial lines. The Black presence in London was visible and remarked upon, welcomed by some and rejected by others. Both progressive ideas and fetishistic notions shaped the early twentieth-century trope of Blackness. What David Levering Lewis rightly termed the vogue for Harlem neither dispelled nor disrupted longstanding patterns of white privilege and racism within these interlocking, interwar trans-Atlantic modernisms. In the years leading up to the impending World War, many of these romantic liaisons and professional partnerships dissolved. In this session, we consider the understudied impact of the Harlem-London axis and raise questions about its legacy upon American and British cultural landscapes, undeniably shaped by Black modernisms.
Check out the papers descriptions here: CAA2023
Register for CAA: https://www.collegeart.org/programs/conference/conference2023/registration
The session will be recorded and available to conference registrants until April 17, 2023.