Dancing in a Banana Skirt in the City of Music: Josephine Baker in 1920s Vienna
This paper argues for an examination of Viennese reception of “die Baker,” especially since it betrays the usual narrative of Baker’s conquering of Europe. Baker’s debut - and local responses to it - illustrates how important the relationship between music, entertainment, race, and politics had become in this post-Habsburg city. Viennese parliament debated for several days whether or not she should be allowed to perform, and the Catholic Church offered to host a special mass following her revue so that the Viennese could atone for their sins. In the city of Vienna in 1928, Baker’s black female sexuality became the locus for an Austrian conversation on Vienna’s relationship to the outside world.
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