Blackness and Commercial Culture in Europe, 1850-1950

King's College London, Council Room (K2.29 King's Building)
Dr. Jeff Bowersox, German Department, King's College London
Jeff Bowersox

Between the mid-nineteeth and mid-twentieth centuries Europe was re-shaped by a significant confluence of developments. The continent reached the height of its global influence; the nation became a powerful organizing principle; and ever larger numbers of people engaged in national and global affairs through mass politics and various encounters with the world. At the same time, Europe was re-made by the rise of an international commercial culture, shaped increasingly by influences from the USA, that mediated the public’s engagement with the wider world and thereby provided a forum for producing and contesting such concepts as race, nation, and empire.

This symposium draws together an interdisciplinary range of scholars working on blackness in France, Germany, Denmark, Britain, Italy, and the United States. Presenters will explore the significance of national and imperial boundaries as well as the role of various commercial media in building transnational perspectives on race, hegemonic and counter-cultural, that reached around the Atlantic world.

Date: 6 July 2013
Location: The Council Room (K2.29, King’s Building), King’s College London
Deadline for registration: Friday, 21 June

For further information or to register for the event, please contact


9:30-9:45 Registration and tea/coffee

9:45-10:00 Welcome and introduction
Jeff Bowersox and Erica Carter, King’s College London

10:00-11:15 Keynote Address
“Black France and the African Diaspora: National Identity and Transnational Vision”
Tyler Stovall, UC Berkeley

Chair/Commentator: Erica Carter, King’s College London

11:15-12:30 Commodifying Race, Gender, and Sexuality
“Racialized Hierarchies of Sexuality in Orientalist Cigarette Advertisements”
David Ciarlo, Colorado

“Scandinavian Human Exhibitions. Race, Gender, and Sexuality at the Turn of the Century”
Rikke Andreassen, Roskilde

Chair/Commentator: Alex Clarkson, King’s College London

12:30-1:45 Lunch

1:45-3:00 Blackness and Music
“Sophisticated Ladies: Adelaide Hall and Elisabeth Welch and the Integration of Black Music in Britain”
Neil Wynn, Gloucestershire

“‘Nel blu dipinto di blues’: African American Music in Italy, 1930-60”
Christian O’Connell, Gloucestershire

Chair/Commentator: Dan Matlin, King’s College London

3:00-3:15 Tea/coffee

3:15-5:00 Playing Politics
“Topsy in the Senate House: Alexander Crummell and Uncle Tom's Cabin”
Sarah Meer, Cambridge

“Transatlantic Black Radicalism in Britain: Old Print Media, Performance and Radical Ideas in the Work of Robert Wedderburn (c.1762 -1835?) and Henry Box Brown (c. 1815 - ?) and their Legacy”
Alan Rice, Central Lancashire

“‘Hair, the Musical’ and the Theatricalization of Race, Rock and Rebellion across the UK and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s”
Tavia Nyong’o, New York University

Chair/Commentator: Kevern Verney, Edge Hill

5:00-5:15 Concluding remarks
Jeff Bowersox, King’s College London

5:15-6:00 Wine reception

This event has been made possible through the generous support of the School of Arts & Humanities and the German Department at King’s College London.


Jeff Bowersox

German Department, King's College London

Blackness and Commercial Culture in Europe, 1850-1950, 06.07.2013 London, in: H-Soz-Kult, 14.06.2013, <>.