‘We try to have the best’

How nationality, race and gender structure artists’ circulations in the Paris jazz scene


  • Myrtille Picaud Centre Européen de Sociologie et de Science Politique, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales




gender, international circulations, music scene, nationality, Paris, place, statistics


This article examines how international circulations of jazz artists in the Parisian jazz scene are structured by hierarchies based on the artists’ nationalities, gender and ‘race’. To do so, the author first describes which artists are showcased in the capital’s clubs and festivals in terms of gender, nationality and country of residence. This shows that the well-known venues in Paris book (male) American rather than French or other artists, and that their added symbolic value is simultaneously economic. Finally, the article centres on how the artists are presented in two specific festivals, revealing that even though ‘otherness’ and value are constructed along racial and gendered divides, they are also informed by artists’ nationality. Indeed, the dominant position of the United States and the opposition between the Western world and the global South are strongly dramatized within jazz in France, which shows some proximity to the ‘world music’ scene.

Author Biography

Myrtille Picaud, Centre Européen de Sociologie et de Science Politique, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Myrtille Picaud is a teaching assistant in sociology at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and a PhD candidate at Centre Européen de Sociologie et de Science Politique/Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She works on cultural intermediaries (bookers) in the musical scenes of Paris and Berlin and has conducted previous research on different marginal or alternative cultural fields.


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How to Cite

Picaud, M. (2016). ‘We try to have the best’: How nationality, race and gender structure artists’ circulations in the Paris jazz scene. Jazz Research Journal, 10(1-2), 126–152. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.v10i1-2.28344