Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century
Interzones is an innovative account of how the color line was drawn--and how it was crossed--in twentieth-century American cities. Kevin Mumford chronicles the role of vice districts in New York and Chicago as crucibles for the shaping of racial categories and racial inequalities.
Focusing on Chicago's South Side and Levee districts, and Greenwich Village and Harlem in New York at the height of the Progressive era, Mumford traces the connections between the Great Migration, the commercialization of leisure, and the politics of reform and urban renewal. Interzones is the first book to examine in depth the combined effects on American culture of two major transformations: the migration north of southern blacks and the emergence of a new public consumer culture.
Mumford writes an important chapter in Progressive-era history from the perspectives of its most marginalized and dispossessed citizens. Recreating the mixed-race underworlds of brothels and dance halls, and charting the history of a black-white sexual subculture, Mumford shows how fluid race relations were in these "interzones." From Jack Johnson and the "white slavery" scare of the 1910's to the growth of a vital gay subculture and the phenomenon of white slumming, he explores in provocative detail the connections between political reforms and public culture, racial prejudice and sexual taboo, the hardening of the color line and the geography of modern inner cities.
The complicated links between race and sex, and reform and reaction, are vividly displayed in Mumford's look at a singular moment in the settling of American culture and society.
An interesting addition to the ever-growing list of works dealing with questions of race and ethnicity.
Anna Notaro, University of Nottingham
Mumford argues that the United States is unique in its historical anxiety about and regulation of black / white sex. Fears of 'miscegenation'played hidden but determinant roles in shaping racial and gender identities at the beginning of the twentieth century....This racialization of sex... generated a new urban landscape. 'Interzones'were the black / white sex districts... located in neighborhoods with inhabitants who were black and white, heterosexual and homosexual, prostitute and customer... Interzones represents a significant and critical foray into the perplexities of the urban interracial universe.
Part I--Drawing the Color Line in the Progressive Era1. Interzones 1: Transforming Urban Geography2. Interzones 2: Reform and RepresentationPart II--Crossing the Color Line in the 1920s4. Leisure and Sexual Racism5. Interracial Intersections6. New Fallen WomenPart III--From Vice to Vogue7. On Stage8. Slumming9. Racial ReactionsEpilogueNotesBibliographyIndex