Theses Doctoral

Between New York and Paris: Hip Hop and the Transnational Politics of Race, Culture, and Citizenship

Meghelli, Samir

Forging connections across the fields of American, French, and African diaspora history, this dissertation traces the emergence of the Hip Hop cultural movement in New York City's African American and Latino neighborhoods in the 1970s and its globalization to a postcolonial France. Drawing on previously untapped archival sources in the U.S. and France, as well as dozens of original, in-depth oral histories with key figures (including musicians, journalists, dancers, visual artists, deejays, and businesspeople), "Between New York and Paris" uncovers the roots and routes of this trans-Atlantic history. Organized around a series of transnational encounters, the study examines how Hip Hop's various cultural practices (rapping, deejaying, graffiti, breakdancing) traveled first from New York's outer boroughs to the downtown Manhattan arts scene at the turn of the 1980s, and then spread to and became rooted in the disproportionately immigrant, working-class suburbs of France.

This dissertation argues that the globalization of this (African)American cultural movement radically altered the terrain on which postcolonial Afro-French youth's national and diasporic membership was lived, contested, policed, and performed. Over the course of the last quarter of the twentieth century, as France was becoming home to the largest African-descended population in Europe as well as the second largest market for the production and consumption of Rap music in the world (behind only the United States), Hip Hop fostered a deep, transnational engagement--both by the movement's adherents and its critics--with the meanings of (African)Americanness and Frenchness, of citizenship and belonging, and of diaspora and democracy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Foner, Eric
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 8, 2017