CRT2 S1 Ep8: The Backlash to CRT in France


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In November 2021, Josephine Baker became the latest recipient of one of France’s highest honors — induction into the Pantheon. This honor is reserved for those who have made an indelible impact on French culture and history. Baker became the first black woman to be inducted, but the honor was also notable for the fact that she was born American. In a speech at the event, French President Emmanuel Macron praised Baker’s commitment to universalism.

What was the symbolic significance of Baker’s induction into the Pantheon and Macron’s subsequent remarks, and what does it mean that France chose to honor an American-born woman with one of their highest honors? In this episode, we talk to Professor Maboula Soumahoro to uncover some of these answers.

Episode Details

Released: October 3, 2022

Length: 29:05


Photo of Maboula Soumahoro

Maboula Soumahoro is an Associate Professor at the University of Tours and president of the Black History Month Association, dedicated to celebrating Black history and cultures. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies, she has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France and was most recently the inaugural Villa Albertine Resident in Atlanta. Maboula Soumahoro is the 2022-2023 Mellon Arts Project International Visiting Professor at the African-American and Africana Studies Department of Columbia University as well as Visiting Faculty at Bennington College.


Written, edited and produced by Marie-Alice Legrand, Annah Akhoun-Murat and Joe Sullivan.


(1963) Josephine Baker, “Speech at the March on Washington”, Blackpast, November 3, 2011.
Adrian Brettle, Myths & Misunderstandings: The North and Slavery, September 20, 2017.
Carl Bialik, Americans Love France, November 19, 2015.
Crystal Smith, How to Get Josephine Baker Waves, the Modern Way, The New York Times, October 18, 2016.
Definition: Abidjan.
Definition: Shero.
Eleanor Beardsley, Josephine Baker is the First Black Woman to be Inducted into France’s Pantheon, NPR, November 30, 2021.
Empire State Building Lights Up in French National Colors to Honor Josephine Baker, RFI, November 30, 2021.
Josephine Baker Enters France’s Pantheon – Macron Celebrates an ‘Exceptional Figure’, FRANCE 24.
Josephine Baker: France’s Adopted Black Superstar Immortalized, France 24, November 27, 2021.
Morgan Jenkins, 90 Years Later, the Radical Power of Josephine Baker’s Banana Skirt, Vogue, June 3, 2016.
Najja Parker, Josephine Baker: France Could Claim Her, America Couldn’t Tame Her, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 8, 2018.
Norimitsu Onishi, A Racial Awakening in France, Where Race is a Taboo Topic, The New York Times, July 14, 2020.
Norimitsu Onishi, Will American Ideas Tear France Apart? Some of its Leaders Think So, The New York Times, Feb 9, 2021.
Piscine Joséphine Baker, Quai Francois Mauriac – 75013 Paris.
Sarah Elzas, Academics Under Fire for Studying Race and Racism in Colour-Blind France, RFI, March 25, 2021.


Law and Race | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social Justice | Theatre and Performance Studies

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Studio for Law and Culture

CRT2 S1 Ep8: The Backlash to CRT in France