The term ‘Jazz Age’, originally coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1922, is widely used in US history to denote an era when the rapidly rising popularity of Jazz musical and dance styles symbolized and went hand in hand with wider societal, economic and technological transformations in the United States. Most frequently, the ‘Jazz Age’ is associated with the rise of a mass leisure industry, the spread of novel media such as Hollywood films, gramophone records and the radio. The term also captures the emergence of a new youth culture entailing a dramatic shift in gender roles.
While these phenomena are fairly well studied for North America and Europe, the talk seeks to explore the possibility of understanding the ‘Jazz Age’ as a truly global phenomenon that also can be used productively to better grasp processes of cultural and social change in Asia and Africa, without falling into the trap of simplistic explanatory models such as ‘Americanization’ or ‘cultural imperialism’.
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