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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The invented tradition of forró: A ‘routes’ ethnography of Brazilian musical ‘roots’
by Loveless, Megwen May, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2010, 504; 3415419
Abstract (Summary)

Framed as a traditional Brazilian music that represents a rural and bucolic past, forró is actually a dynamic style that has been transformed over years of creative refractions and has developed into several different genres in both rural and urban settings. My project seeks to explore the phenomenon of a roots revival as it relates to the migratory cycles of increasingly mobile communities. I argue here that, like many cultural products throughout 20th century Latin America, forró music and dance have become an ideological tool, accessed by Brazilians in the context of a post-modern and deterritorialized urbanity with increasing influences from abroad. The narratives common to the forró music-scape represent an imagined community through which Brazilians build bridges to access an imagined past in the hinterlands, untouched by modern mass media and the intimidating forces of globalization. Ironically, it is through a masterful network of mass media that contemporary citizens access this turn inward toward an imagined pre-modern community. Seen through the lens of the iconic folds of the accordion, the music of forrô suggests that an increasingly cosmopolitan and globalized Brazil is creating a discourse which makes it possible to participate in a global economy while maintaining a tightly-knit sense of place.

My multi-sited research demonstrates that at this exciting crossroads to the new millennium, forr6 music in Brazil has become emblematic of how nations are confronting the post-modern concerns brought by intensified globalization — and that popular music has become a lexicon through which Brazilians position themselves within local, regional, national, and international identities. The reverberations of forró's zabumba drum can now be heard from rural Pernambuco to outdoor shows in Rio to underground clubs in New York City. Though forró artists across these far-flung sites are perpetually composing and creating new content, a few treasures of the genre continue to be re-interpreted in a standardized canon of forró which, when replicated, allows a post-modern Brazil free admission to its traditional roots.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Theidon, Kimberly
School: Harvard University
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Music, Latin American Studies
Keywords: Brazil, Ethnography, Forro, Gonzaga, Luiz, Music, Roots revival, Sertao
Publication Number: 3415419
ISBN: 978-1-124-09099-3
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