Poetry, Performance, and Statecraft in Senegal
This chapter integrates a close reading of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s writings on jazz with a study of the 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts, which Senghor envisioned as an actualization of negritude and what he called “the black soul.” Beginning with his earliest speeches in the 1930s, the chapter shows that the recurrent metaphors of jazz in his work reveal a transnational dimension to Senghorian nègritude sometimes eclipsed by his traditionalism. The chapters analysis of the World Festival of Negro Arts shows that while the festival was beset by ideological contradictions as a proxy of Cold War politics, it was also an important forum for critical views on negritude, from such attendees as William Greaves, Katherine Dunham, Langston Hughes and Hoyt Fuller. These African American perspectives amplify our understanding of the festival’s significance and its legacy in relation to later large-scale festivals held in Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1977) and beyond.
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