Fri 23 Oct 2020
6 - 7:30pm (BST)


In partnership with Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image

About the Event

A discussion about the fascinating and complex world of Josephine Baker, and how her career as an iconic entertainer overlapped with her work as an activist.

Baker remains a frequently referenced and quoted performer, through her famed banana skirt and film appearances including Siren of the Tropics (1927) and Zouzou (1934).

With Dr Terri Francis author of upcoming book Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism – and independent researcher/curator Karen Alexander we’ll explore the enduring appeal of Baker, and the legacies and reception of her work.


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Many of Baker’s French films are currently available to watch online, we’ve compiled a short viewing list of works and performances:

1925 performance of Josephine Baker dancing the Charleston.

Siren of the Tropics (1927)

British Pathé short featuring a 1931 Paris performance from Josephine Baker.

Josephine Baker performance from Zouzou (1934)

Princess Tam Tam (1935)

Baker is interviewed here by reporter Jack Mangan aboard the SS Liberte, 3 October, 1950.



Karen Alexander is a London-based independent film and moving image curator and an associate lecturer at Central St Martins, University of the Arts, London. For over 15 years she worked with and for BFI and the Royal College of Art. Her areas of research are artists’ film and video, and the post-colonial visual politics of the African diaspora with particular reference to gender, race and representation.

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Recent curatorial projects include: A Passion for Remembering: The Films of Maureen Blackwood, Cinema Rediscovered, Bristol (2019), Dream Time: We All Have Stories, Nuit Blanche, Toronto (2018), Whip It Good: Spinning From History’s Filthy Mind, Jeannette Elhers, Autograph, London (2015). She has written for numerous publications, most recently contributing to Artists' Moving Image in Britain Since 1989 (Paul Mellon Centre, 2019)


Terri Francis teaches film studies courses and directs the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University. She is a scholar of Black film and critical race theory whose work involves archival research, cultural history, and visual analysis, set within the vicissitudes of performance and representation.

How to join this event

This event will take place online only, via Zoom, and everyone is welcome to join.

Here's how to join:
1) Book a free ticket on this webpage or Eventbrite.

2) We'll send you an email confirmation of your booking.

3) This online event will use Zoom. For the best experience, we recommend using the Zoom app on your computer or mobile device. You can download the free software here. Or, you can access the event through your web browser without a download.

4) On the day of the event, we'll send you an email with a link to the event on Zoom. You will be able to join for the start of the event at 6pm (BST).

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
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This event is in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London.

Page images, from top left: 1) Studio Harcourt / Public domain. 2) Karen Alexander. 3) Terri Francis