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Music as Practice of Citizenship in Brazil
Idelber Avelar and Christopher Dunn
In Brazil music has been both an instrument through which disenfran-
chised groups have asserted claims to citizenship, as well as a tool in the for-
mulation of disciplinary or repressive state policies. While music brought
mixed-race and black people into the urban public sphere for the first time
in the late nineteenth century with maxixe, it also encoded messages of
obedience in the pedagogy of choral singing concocted by the authoritarian
state of the 1930s and 1940s. Music allegorized hopes and anxieties like
no other art during the military dictatorship of the 1960s and 1970s, but it
also provided upper and middle classes with the paradigm for an exclusion-
ary conception of taste, based on the imaginary belonging to a community
of enlightened, sophisticated aesthetic consumers—an operation that im-
posed a considerable stigma of “bad taste” upon the preferences of poorer
populations (Araújo, 2002). Music has played a decisive role in reconstruct-
ing the self-esteem of numerous communities in Brazil, from the rebirth
of the Candeal neighborhood in Salvador, Bahia, to Recife’s definitive en-
trance into a national and international pop scene. On the other hand, music
has been the primary currency in the corrupt industry of the jabá (“payola,”
record company bribes to radio stations), a practice as pervasive and politi-
cally decisive in Brazil as anywhere in the world. Popular music has been,
therefore, an essentially contradictory phenomenon in Brazil, one that in-
variably produces multiple political effects. This book compiles essays that
focus both on popular music as an agent and image of citizenship, as well as
essays that detail music’s imbrication in the foreclosure of citizenship. Our
chapters do, in fact, often study both movements simultaneously, thereby
offering the dynamic picture of a cultural practice whose political meaning
is never given in advance. This is the first Eng lish-language collection of
essays that focuses on the political dimensions of Brazil’s most fecund form
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