The introduction lays out the central claims of the book and situates its historical, ethnographic, and theoretical interventions. It also provides necessary historical and contemporary background information on French politics, Manouches, and jazz manouche. Using the concept of ambivalent essentialism, I argue that ideologies of ethnoracial difference unfold dialectically with the development of jazz manouche.
Branding jazz manouche as Alsatian (p. 1)
Video 0.1: "Le Jazz Manouche, l'importance de la transmission !"
In the following video, you'll see and hear from musicians who are featured in Django Generations, including Marcel Loeffler, Biréli Lagrène, Cédric Loeffler, and Engé Helmstetter. This video is a news segment that originally aired on the regional television chain France 3 Grand Est; the video file is hosted on Marcel Loeffler's YouTube channel.
Several themes of the book converge in this video:
- The promotion of jazz manouche as closely tethered to the region of Alsace
- The simultaneous promotion of jazz manouche as an intergenerational, familial, and uniquely Manouche tradition
- Appeals not only to Django but to US jazz musicians as key musical influences (see chapter 3)
- Repetitions of the idea of “freedom” (sometimes with an explicit link between freedom and Manouche ethnorace)
- Distinctions between traditionally Manouche and institutional French (i.e. conservatory-centered) ways of understanding music
Note that the journalist erroneously states that Django “made jazz manouche known in the 1930s and 1940s” (see Chapter 1 on misunderstandings about the timeline and development of jazz manouche).
Promotional brochure issued by the official tourism organization Visit Alsace, advertising the Alsatian jazz manouche industry. The title translates as "Jazz manouche [is] at home everywhere in Alsace," and the text below: "[It is] impossible to stand still with this wild music that hits you in the gut and punctuates, [with its] red-hot notes, Alsatian days and nights. The homeland of jazz manouche is well and truly on this side of the Vosges [mountain range]."
Tunes referenced on pp. 2-3
Racial erasure (pp. 10-14)
Video 0.2: "The Celebration of the Gypsies: What is the Gypsy World Today?"
The following video is a French newsreel from 1946. It reflects some of the highly normalized racist, essentializing attitudes about Romanies that were commonplace in French society (some of which have barely changed in the intervening years). The video opens with footage from the annual Romani pilgrimage to the French village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in honor of Saint Sara. The narrator lists off various names for Romanies, some antiquated by today’s standards, in different countries. At 0:55, over images of Romani daily life, the narrator asks, “What are Gypsies? Where do Gypsies come from? We don’t know anything about them except their roulottes [wooden caravans], their part of the road, their solitude,” also claiming that “this race can figure out the secrets of life.” At 1:15, images of Romani children in school are accompanied by the narrator stating that “times are changing, the young Gypsies are going to school” and asking, “will the Gypsies decide to enter the circle of [mankind]?” Following this, the narrator notes an “astonishing thing, that a Gypsy is a student at the University of Paris. Even stranger, one has become an author and today is signing his first book.” (This unnamed person is actually Matéo Maximoff, one of the world’s most renowned Romani authors.) At 1:46, we see and hear Django Reinhardt, praised as someone who escaped “the crowd of his people” to reach his fame. The narrator concludes (1:57) that despite “these examples that are the sign of an evolution, the Gypsy people remains what it was yesterday, the people of roulottes, the people of the road, instinctive and mysterious, with its strange music and its eternal dances.”
Image 0.1: Carnet anthropométrique
Here, an example of a carnet anthropométrique (p. 13), the booklet that all nomades (considered practically synonymous with Romanies) were required to carry at all times. These booklets served as intranational passports and included detailed information about physical attributes such as skin color and skull size.