• Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins

    Pages: 376
    Illustrations: 23 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • Preface  ix
    Acknowledgments  xi
    Introduction  1
    1. Analyzing the African Origins of Negro Music and Dance in a Time of Racism, Fascism, and War  21
    2. Listening to Africa in the City, in the Laboratory, and on Record  74
    3. Embodying Africa against Racial Oppression, Ignorance, and Colonialism  124
    4. Disalienating Movement and Sound from the Pathologies of Freedom and Time  173
    5. Desiring Africa, or Western Civilization's Discontents  221
    Conclusion. Dance-Music as Rhizome  268
    Notes  277
    Bibliography  323
    Index  345
  • Recipient of the 2018 Commendation, British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize

  • Listening for Africa is a book that deserves to be read carefully and slowly. It is a work of sensitive and rigorous archival research combined with a sophisticated theoretical framework.”


  • Recipient of the 2018 Commendation, British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize

  • Reviews

  • Listening for Africa is a book that deserves to be read carefully and slowly. It is a work of sensitive and rigorous archival research combined with a sophisticated theoretical framework.”

  • “David F. Garcia’s deftly argued study brings to light how black music and dance became a defining factor during the high years of Afro-modernism, 1930s to 1950s. Because it emerged from conscious artistic intent, black dance ‘made’ many things: myths of origins, race’s content, and even modernism itself. Garcia treats black dance as a community theater that staged the scramble for an African Diaspora, a movement that was international and with multiple roots and aspirations. Black dance, Garcia teaches us, was more than just a lot of shaking and jumping. It made a world.” — Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr, author of, The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

    "David F. Garcia's linkage of jazz, Cuban and Latin American music, and Africa, along with his focus on understudied figures, is compelling. Garcia's work makes a powerful intervention in jazz studies as well as the field of Africanist ethnomusicology. We need this book." — Ingrid Monson, author of, Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call out to Jazz and Africa

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  • Description

    In Listening for Africa David F. Garcia explores how a diverse group of musicians, dancers, academics, and activists engaged with the idea of black music and dance’s African origins between the 1930s and 1950s. Garcia examines the work of figures ranging from Melville J. Herskovits, Katherine Dunham, and Asadata Dafora to Duke Ellington, Dámaso Pérez Prado, and others who believed that linking black music and dance with Africa and nature would help realize modernity’s promises of freedom in the face of fascism and racism in Europe and the Americas, colonialism in Africa, and the nuclear threat at the start of the Cold War. In analyzing their work, Garcia traces how such attempts to link black music and dance to Africa unintentionally reinforced the binary relationships between the West and Africa, white and black, the modern and the primitive, science and magic, and rural and urban. It was, Garcia demonstrates, modernity’s determinations of unraced, heteronormative, and productive bodies, and of scientific truth that helped defer the realization of individual and political freedom in the world.

    About The Author(s)

    David F. Garcia is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of Arsenio Rodríguez and the Transnational Flows of Latin Popular Music.
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