Based on the music of legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, jazz manouche is a popular genre that emerged during the late twentieth century. This article examines the historical development of jazz manouche in relation to ideologies about ethnoracial identity in France. Jazz manouche is strongly associated with French Manouches, the subgroup of Romanies (“Gypsies”) to which Reinhardt belonged. In the decades following Reinhardt's death in 1953, some Manouches adopted his music as a community practice. Simultaneously, critics, promoters, and activists extolled the putative ethnoracial character of this music, giving rise to the “jazz manouche” label as a cornerstone of both socially conscious and profit-generating strategies. Drawing on analysis of published criticism, archival research, and interviews, I argue that ethnoracial and generic categories can develop symbiotically, each informing and reflecting ideologies about cultural identity and its sonic expressions. Jazz manouche grew out of essentializing notions about Manouche identity, while Manouches have been racialized through reductive narratives about jazz manouche. In this case, an investigation of genre formation can inform understandings of ethnoracial identity and national belonging.

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