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Accepted Paper:

Struggling for a place in the city: social and geographic mobility in the musicians of late colonial Lourenço Marques  
Pedro Mendes (New University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

The activity of popular music groups in Lourenço Marques reflected the constraints instigated by the colonial system. The example of the struggle of non-european musicians to assert themselves in the city, stresses how the colonial order and its narratives were questioned in everyday life practice.

Paper long abstract:

Lourenço Marques (nowadays Maputo) was a city with an intense activity of popular music groups. These groups played in a variety of contexts and were an important part in the economic activities of nightlife business, hotels and restaurants. Their repertoires were mainly composed with songs popularized by the music industries. The stylistic range could be diversified. There were groups playing soul music, rock, romantic songs or the local marrabenta.

The reputation of each group was often dependent on elements such as musical skills, the venues where they played and the place of the city where they came from. Since Lourenço Marques was a city divided in an european center ('the cement city') and the peripheral neighbourhoods, mainly inhabited by african population, this geographical condition had an impact in the musical activities. The groups from the peripheral areas faced several difficulties while trying to play in the same venues and with the same legitimacy of the center groups. Few were successful to reach it and some places were almost inaccessible for them.

Besides their cultural production, the contribution of the artists to the questioning of the colonial order was also rooted in elements of everyday life practice. This paper proposes a reflection about the struggle of african musicians to conquer a place in late colonial Lourenço Marques, taking it as an important contribution for an in-depth understanding of the city history, since it evidences the way people were actively seeking to overcome the constraints and narratives imposed by the colonial system.

Panel P31
Film, theatre, music: new directions, legacies
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2019, -