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Making African music and heritage in São Paulo

Grant number: 16/06840-9
Support type:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: August 28, 2016 - September 17, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Rose Satiko Gitirana Hikiji
Grantee:Rose Satiko Gitirana Hikiji
Visiting researcher: Jasper Morgan Chalcraft
Visiting researcher institution: University of Sussex (US), England
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The visit of the researcher Jasper Chalcraft to São Paulo aims to develop the research project "Music Making and African cultural heritage in São Paulo", which is being conducted in partnership with Rose Satiko Gitirana Hikiji, professor in the Department of Anthropology of the USP, as part of the thematic project "Local musicking: new pathways for ethnomusicology", coordinated by Professor Suzel Reily of Unicamp.Jasper Chalcraft is a member of the team of researchers of this thematic project, and as well as running a workshop for this thematic project team, he will also deliver lectures in the Department of Anthropology at USP and at the USP Cultural Preservation Center (CPC-USP).The project "Making music and African cultural heritage in São Paulo" aims to discuss the meanings of being African in Brazil: how do immigrants from different African countries identify and express cultural identities? How are local policies of racial representation negotiated and represented? Similarly, how are music and localities used in the construction of identity narratives?What is the experience of migration to Brazil from countries as diverse as Angola, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo? This recent phenomenon has grown significantly in recent years: in 2000, 1,054 Africans from 38 nationalities settled in Brazil, and by 2012 there were already 31,866 legalized citizens from 48 of the continent's 54 nations.Most African immigrants leave their countries for economic reasons, but the number of refugees seeking asylum has increased due to civil war and instability, with most coming from Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria (5882 requests in 2013). In 2014 the main nationalities of asylum seekers were Senegal, Nigeria, Syria and Ghana.This project aims to think about the meanings of music for this young generation of African immigrants in Brazil, specifically in São Paulo, a place that attracts a significant part of this migratory flow. We are interested in gathering the life stories of immigrants who have arrived in São Paulo in recent years, and to understand the role of music in the experience of becoming/being African in Brazil. Like Small (1998), we understand music as different types of action, ways of organizing sounds into meanings, communication systems; in particular, we borrow Small's concept of musicking, a concept created to denote "a human encounter". The musical performance is therefore a meeting between people and, like every human encounter occurs in a physical and social environment.Alongside the search for work and housing, music has been seen as one of the priorities of African immigrants: bands and groups have been established in the city of São Paulo, some with members from different African countries. Currently there are several groups in São Paulo that have formed here and perform here; these include the bands Esperança, from Togo, Os Escolhidos, with musicians from Angola and DRC, as well as musicians who already work on the professional circuit such as Lenna Bahule, a Mozambican singer who has been making her living as a musician for the last three years in São Paulo.We do not see music-making as restricted to the activities of professional and amateur groups. Activities like writing, practice, rehearsal and performance, listening, collecting, sharing, and producing media with music are musical practices that become significant given the transatlantic experience of immigrants. What are the songs stored in the memory of these immigrants? How does contact with music produced today in their places of origin contribute to the construction of its diaspora experience? Do such songs dialogue with local sounds and music? What musical practices are experienced in life on the streets of the center or the outskirts of São Paulo? What kinds of Pan-African identity are articulated? (AU)