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Imperial Blues
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In this pathbreaking study, Fiona I. B. Ngo examines how geographies of U.S. empire were perceived and enacted during the 1920s and 1930s. Focusing on New York during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Ngo traces the city's multiple circuits of jazz music and culture. In considering this cosmopolitan milieu, where immigrants from the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Japan, and China crossed paths with blacks and white "slummers" in dancehalls and speakeasies, she investigates imperialism's profound impact on racial, gendered, and sexual formations. As nightclubs overflowed with the sights and sounds of distant continents, tropical islands, and exotic bodies, tropes of empire provided both artistic possibilities and policing rationales. These renderings naturalized empire and justified expansion, while establishing transnational modes of social control within and outside the imperial city. Ultimately, Ngo argues that domestic structures of race and sex during the 1920s and 1930s cannot be understood apart from the imperial ambitions of the United States.
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Focusing on the representations of distant lands and exotic bodies that filled the nightclubs of Jazz Age New York, Fiona I. B. Ngo shows how U.S. ambitions abroad shaped racial, gendered, and sexual formations at home.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii Introduction 1 1. Desire and Danger in Jazz's Contact Zones 33 2. Queer Modernities 71 3. Orienting Subjectivities 121 4. Dreaming of Araby 155 Conclusion. Academic Indiscretions 187 Notes 193 Bibliography 231 Index 251

About the Author

Fiona I. B. Ngo is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies and of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Reviews

"Imperial Blues is a spectacular elaboration of queer of color critique. Fiona I. B. Ngo creatively reveals how orientalist discourses shaped Jazz Age subjectivities and social life. Theorizing racialized sexuality, she blurs the boundaries between domestic and international migrations, political and aesthetic discourses, and global and national racial formations. This is a beautifully conceived book." - Roderick Ferguson, coeditor of Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization "I love this book. It is smart, fresh, and new, a game-changer. Imperial Blues is a theoretically astute and historically grounded cultural studies analysis of empire as central to the circuits of, and discourses about, jazz in Jazz Age New York." - Sherrie Tucker, coeditor of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies

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