Carnavals and Cultural Cannibals: The Political Economy of Samba and Carnaval

By Ana Paulina Lee.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As part of Brazil’s nation building project in the early part of the 20th century, the traditions of carnaval and samba were incorporated into the framework of nationalism and became a strong characteristic of the Brazilian imaginary and sense of brasilidade. A revisit to the construction of Brazilian identity through an analysis of carnaval and samba and the globalization of these cultures presents an ambivalent positioning that allows one to pose questions regarding incorporation and loss. In this paper, I examine the way in which the capital potential of samba and carnaval allowed the subaltern to assert subjectivity and disrupt, or refashion, the dominant aesthetics of early 20th century Brazil. As samba became synonymous with carnaval, the representations of the festival became a space of excess that both marginalized and prominently displayed token representations and symbols of Brazilian culture. Through an analysis of samba within the space of carnaval, I will explore the contradictory stance that has both absorbed culture and displaced its producers to a distant and mythical locality.

Keywords: Samba, Carnaval, Anthropophagia, Festival, Globalization, Radio, Black Orpheus, Political Economy, Media, Popular Culture, Film

Global Studies Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.253-262. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 692.573KB).

Ana Paulina Lee

Ph.D. in progress, Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Ana Paulina Lee is a doctoral student in Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California and holds a Master’s degree in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures from New York University. Her research focuses on chinoserie and representations of China in Latin America from the colonial period to the present. She also works on music in 20th century Latin America, focusing on transnational exchanges between Cuba, Brazil, and the United States.

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