In 1922 a group of predominantly Afro-Brazilian musicians, the Oito Batutas, performed in nightclubs and cabarets in Paris over a six month period. My research examines how this group represented themselves and the Brazilian nation, both in terms of the music they chose to perform and the clothes they wore on stage.
It illustrates how their interactions with musicians from other cultures, not least black U.S. jazz bands, influenced their performances, and inflected their performance of Brazilian ‘race’ in particular. I focus especially on the role played by the Oito Batutas in elevating samba to the status of the ‘national’ music of Brazil, arguing that it was precisely because of their journey across the Atlantic to Paris, that this ‘black’ music was accepted as a symbol of Brazilian culture as a whole in the 1930s.
My conclusion is that this was just one example in a long history of trans-Atlantic dialogues in the realm of popular culture between Brazil and France, more specifically the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Paris.
Photograph from the Augusto Malta ‘‘Personalidades’’ collection, Museu da Imagem e do Som, Rio de Janeiro (FMIS/RJ), reproduced with the permission of the FMIS/RJ.
Dr Shaw is currently on British Academy / Leverhulme-funded research leave in Brazil, researching her new book Tropical Travels and Transatlantic Dialogues’: Brazilian Popular Culture Abroad, 1870-1945.
Full bibliographical reference: Lisa Shaw, ‘Afro-Brazilian popular culture in Paris in 1922: Transatlantic dialogues and the racialized performance of Brazilian national identity,’ Atlantic Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, 01 Dec 2011: 393-409 [note that full text is available only via subscription].