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Josephine Baker and Katherine DunhamDances in Literature and Cinema$
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Hannah Durkin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042621

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042621.001.0001

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The Dancer in Translation

The Dancer in Translation

Baker’s Coauthored Narratives

Chapter One The Dancer in Translation
Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham

Hannah Durkin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on three of Baker’s memoirs, Voyages et aventures de Joséphine Baker (1931), Une vie de toutes les couleurs (1935), and Josephine (1978), to recover her intellectual voice and contributions to Black women’s literary tradition. The memoirs aid in Baker’s commodification insofar as they were cowritten by white men and their publications were timed to capitalize on specific Baker shows and, finally, on her death. Yet disjunctures between the main narrative and sections written expressly by her coauthors suggest that she exercised significant authorial control over the texts. The memoirs serve as self-reflexive critiques of the racial intolerance that Baker encountered in the United States and Europe and, as such, provide vital insights into psychological experiences that influenced her art and antiracist activism.

Keywords:   Josephine Baker, Voyages et aventures de Joséphine Baker, Une vie de toutes les couleurs, Josephine, autobiography, memoir, dance, African American literature, civil rights movement, Rainbow Tribe

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