Accepted paper:

The politics of aesthetics in the maracatu-de-baque-solto (Pernambuco, Brazil) or the materializations of creolization.


Laure Garrabé (Universidade Federal Santa Maria)

Paper short abstract:

Observed through a modal perspective, this ethnography of a brazilian popular expression form argues that the articulation of its specific modes of doing and modes of relationship, construct its politics of aesthetics that seem to materialize the expressions of dynamics idealized and described as « creolization » both by anthropologists and poets.

Paper long abstract:

The maracatu-de-baque-solto is a popular performing art invented at the beginning of the 20th century by sugar cane cutters from Pernambuco, Brazil, that combines inextricably musical, choreographic and dramaturgical patterns of expression. As a performing genre, this combination called brincadeira, designates carnivalesque performances established on ludic modes of playing. A deeper exam of its verbal root, brincar, denotes a singular modality of the action and a peculiar range of cunning qualities, permitting its performers to negotiate the spectacular or individuating dimensions of their actions. Together transitive and intransitive, brincar also provides to collective individuals (a group) and psychological individuals (a performer) to explore the paradoxes of their identity through the interactions between action, perception and reception. This maracatu stresses "brincar" specificities by presenting two apparently opposed modalities of execution, in which not only social stakes are radically different, but also its own form and technics. The first, carnival, brings out its global sociability, transfiguring its aesthetics into entertaining, quantitative, calculated, and athletic performances, which construct a "society of service" that brings back its social historicity based on subaltern relations of domination. The second, the sambadas, bring out its local sociability, transfiguring its aesthetics into performative, virtuosic, qualitative, and unpredictable performances, that, by requiring a personal contribution to the collectivity, turns it into a democratic exercise. Its singular performativities render paradigmatic the dimensions, simultaneously anthropological and aesthetical, of rhythm, diversity and relation, not only enunciating but mainly materializing the dynamics of creolization, as described by anthropologists and poets of cultural complexity.

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