The Cultural Transfer of Tango into European Contexts at the Beginning of the 20th Century: Buenos Aires-Paris-Berlin

Lange, Kerstin

The dissertation project analyses the cultural transfer of tango from Buenos Aires to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. Based on case studies of Berlin and Paris, this project examines a cultural phenomenon that was part of an international urban entertainment industry. The period of investigation concentrates on a historical phase that was marked by social debates about high and popular culture. The main objective of this investigation is to assess the effect and the meaning of a cultural transfer within a popular culture that is regarded as a national popular culture. The project aims to close a gap in research, where cultural phenomena are generally investigated on a national level, leaving aside the methodological consideration of transnational interconnections. The argumentation is based on a concept of hybrid culture that criticises the constructedness of the concept of cultural spaces as self-contained national contexts of tradition and focuses on the changes of cultural styles, forms and tradition in the process of migration and cultural contact instead. The methodology of cultural transfer studies offers the possibility to add to the comparative model theory-based research questions about reception needs and the entanglement of the examined cities. Furthermore, the analysis of a triangular transfer between Buenos Aires, Paris and Berlin requires the inclusion of postcolonial approaches. This project uses tango as a medium. An empirical basis, created by examining the transfer channel, international dissemination and reception, will serve as a starting point for the analysis of the mutual influence and entanglement of the cultural history of the examined cities. Cultural-historical research questions will be amplified through the example of tango in order to gain an insight into the complex history of relations between the two European cities. The transnational research perspective of this project is part of the newer urbanization research and aims to contribute to the historical analysis of European urban culture. The PhD project by Kerstin Lange is funded by the German Research Foundation and the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR). It is supervised by Matthias Middell and will be continued in 2011.