'Something Apart, Yet an Integral Part': Duke Ellington's Harlem and the Nexus of Race and Nation

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Abstract

Harlem loomed large in the imagination of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, one of the twentieth
century’s most significant composers and an important theorist of the condition of being
black and American. This article provides insights into Ellington’s social thought by foregrounding
his evocations of Harlem and his efforts to interpolate that neighborhood into the physical,
cultural, and imaginative spaces of US national life. In doing so, it also situates Ellington’s ideas
in relation to the competing intellectual currents of the Harlem Renaissance movement that had
inspired his project of racial vindication. More broadly, the article argues that understanding of
the history of African American ideas of race and nation benefits from analysis of discursive
place-making and the spatial practices of artistic and intellectual work. Attending to space
and place recuperates the complexity and multiplicity of such ideas, which are often concealed
by abstracted discussion of concepts such as “integration.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499 - 526
Number of pages28
JournalModern Intellectual History
Volume19
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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