The Colonial Unconscious: Race and Culture in Interwar France

By Elizabeth Ezra | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Colonialism Exposed

Laissez mappemondes, cartes et atlas. Partez pour la Porte d'Orée. Le
rêve est complaisant… .La Grande France exotique vous accueille.

from Ce qu'il faut voir à l'Exposition coloniale


EXHIBIT A: THE COLONIAL LOOK

French press releases announcing that the 1931 Exposition coloniale Internationale would leave its mark on haute couture spawned a flurry of articles in the fashion pages of American newspapers, suggesting that the event had managed to achieve the international status it sought. The Detroit News reported that [hats made using wood, coconut fiber, metal and paper] were making a splash and that [Arabian burnous] were popping up in the most fashionable European resorts as [a lounging robe for beach wear] (Feb. 4,1931). Also direct from the Bois de Vincennes was jewelry [of the bright, barbaric type] (New York City World, Feb. 15,1931) and a proliferation of bold [Algerian colors]—which, according to the fashion section of the Seattle Times (Feb. 23, 1931), included [red, yellow, blue, green, brown, orange, black and white]: all colors were colonial, all ensembles exotic in the months leading up to the Exposition coloniale.

On the eve of decolonization, appropriations of the [colonial] in French cultural life reflected France's changing geopolitical role, as im-

-21-

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The Colonial Unconscious: Race and Culture in Interwar France
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction - Colonial Culture 1
  • Chapter 1 - Colonialism Exposed 21
  • Chapter 2 - Raymond Roussel and the Structure of Stereotype 47
  • Chapter 3 - Cannibals in Babylon René Crevel's Allegories of Exclusion 75
  • Chapter 4 - A Colonial Princess Josephine Baker's French Films 97
  • Chapter 5 - Difference in Disguise Paul Morand's Black Magic 129
  • Epilogue - Black-Blanc-Beur 145
  • Notes 155
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 171
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