Josephine Baker, Black Light

A round table discussion is organized around the career of Josephine Baker, from her artistic presence to her career as a resistance fighter and anti-racist activist on Tuesday, November 16 at the Museum of Immigration History in Paris. A meeting moderated by Doan Bui, journalist and Pascal Blanchard, historian, co-founder of the Achac research group.

From the “Années folles” around La Revue nègre (1925) to the march for civil rights on Washington (1963), via her commitment to the Resistance, the extraordinary career of Josephine Baker, singer, dancer and actress, earned her the recognition of the French nation. The upcoming entry into the Pantheon (November 30) of the woman who sang “Mon pays et Paris” invites us to revisit the roots of the popular success of this personality who was a master in the art of thwarting and playing (with) clichés.

The emancipation of racialized people

How do we understand her story? How does she represent a model for our time? Do her commitments resonate with the aspirations of today’s youth? What light does this celebrated icon shed on the emancipation trajectories of racialized people? How has her artistic presence mapped the imaginary and questioned the exotic and colonial gaze? And what if the pantheonization of Josephine Baker revealed the color line that runs through the representations of Black people in France?

Lisette Malidor substitute for Zizi Jeammaire

Lisette Malidor, dancer, singer, showgirl and actress. Lisette Malidor left Martinique for the Paris region at the age of 14 to work in a French family. In 1970, as a theater program saleswoman, she was spotted by the choreographer Roland Petit who was running the Casino de Paris at the time. She joined the show as a nude model – in a Yves Saint-Laurent costume and to the music of Serge Gainsbourg in Roland Petit’s first revue. The role of leader of the review Zizi je t’aime! is entrusted to her in 1973, replacing Zizi Jeammaire. Her fame was immediate and the newspapers compared her to a “new Josephine Baker”. She will pay tribute to her in 2010-2011, with a musical show of his conception Josephine Barker presented on the Queen Mary. Lisette Malidor then continued her career as a showgirl at the Moulin Rouge (1976 to 1979) and the Folies Bergère (1983 to 1985).

Brian Scott Bagley, choreographer and dancer

From her career as a dancer, she has an acting career in film, theater and opera. She has participated in a dozen films, including The Trout by Joseph Losey, Ronde de nuit by JC Missiaen or with Peter Greenaway and My Brother in 2018 by Julien Abraham. She also turned to the theater, collaborating with the Black Theater in the 80s, interpreting classics of black literature as with Ourika by Claire de Duras, directed by Philippe Adrien in 2011.

Brian Scott Bagley, choreographer, cabaret dancer, musical theater teacher, singer, former artistic director of Josephine Baker’s Park, first black revue director of the Crazy Horse in Paris.

Sylvie Chalaye, a specialist in African and diaspora theaters, anthropologist of colonial representations and historian of the performing arts, is a professor at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III) where she teaches Afro-Caribbean dramaturgies and directs the Institute of Theatrical Studies.

Rokhaya Diallo, journalist, author, director. Researcher in residence at Georgetown University (Washington). Co-founder of the association Les Indivisibles, Rokhaya Diallo is the author of several books and documentaries committed to the fight against racism.

Olivier Sultan, artist, gallery owner, critic and photographer, founded in 2017 the Art-Z gallery (Paris), dedicated to contemporary African art. He is also the founder, in the early 2000s, of the Museum of Latter-day Arts.

Amanda Beauville, student at Kourtrajmé. This young student entered this film school by presenting a song dedicated to Josephine Baker.


National Museum of the History of Immigration
293, avenue Daumesnil – 75012 Paris