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The Provenance of a Princess

On the way back from the AALS Annual Meeting, I was chatting with co-blogger Deven Desai who will be familiar with this question but I’m not sure that either of us has a clear answer to it.  I was intrigued when Disney released its first full length animated feature with an African-American princess (The Princess and the Frog) both by the fact that Disney had never depicted an African-American princess before – which a lot of people wrote about at the time – and by the context in which they placed the princess.

It seemed odd to me that Disney’s Princess Tiana appeared in a tale that was clearly set in New Orleans (and thereabouts) – where a black princess would not be out of place.  However, Disney’s white princesses all appear in more generic worlds that do not necessarily depict a particular place.  Deven pointed out to me that all of the white princesses derive from European-style fairytales so the generic settings that evoke European castles and the like do make sense.  He also pointed out that Princess Jasmine in Aladdin clearly appears in an appropriate context as well and is an appropriate race for that context.

My question is:  Does anyone know the true derivation of the story on which the Princess and the Frog movie is based and whether, in fact, New Orleans is an appropriate setting for the tale.  A Wikipedia entry suggests that the movie is based on an E.D. Baker novel which, in turn, is based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale.  So I suppose the question is whether the novel is set in New Orleans, or at least in the American South.  The Grimm Brothers fairy tale apparently is set in Europe.