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Bate Papo Series, Idelber Avelar, "Brazilian Popular Music and Citizenship"

Friday, April 2, 2010
12:00 AM
1644 SSWB (International Institute)

This presentation will discuss how diverse claims and alternative notions of citizenship have been elaborated through music in Brazil. From the 19th-century percussion by former slaves to contemporary forms of re-Africanized carnival in Bahia, music has been a key element for black citizenship. On the other hand, music has operated to foreclose and discipline, rather than open up the citizens' experience, as in Vargas' regime's use of orpheonic chant to produce obedient young subjects at elementary schools, a project directed by Villa-Lobos, Brazil's most celebrated classical composer. Music has often been a space of negotiation with power as well, as is apparent in as samba's position in the 1930s/40s as a genre both promoted and demoted, celebrated and censored by GetĂșlio Vargas' authoritarian regime, or in the ambiguous status of the acoustic, refined musics known as MPB during the 1960s/70s dictatorship, when those musics expressed democratic hopes and aspirations like no other, but also promoted an exclusionary conception of good taste. The talk will explore the range of meanings acquired by popular music in processes of citizenship has happened to be so wide and varied in Brazil.