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Labor, Pleasure, and Possession in Transnational Black Performance


The study traces histories of African descended sacred music singers and musicians whose work has relied on transatlantic or transnational travel and theorizes performance labor through modes of pleasure and possession. Twentieth century United States examples are drawn from early musical recordings from 1909, concerts from the 1930s, through dramatic literature and theaters including Broadway stages from the 1950s, to internationally popular film and music video renderings of gospel performance through the 1990s. The study concludes with an ethnographic analysis of contemporary francophone African and French African performances in Paris, France that include oral storytelling and “Black American” gospel concerts.

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