International Summer School in Urban Ethnography

Facoltà di Sociologia, Università degli Studi di Trento | Trento, 3-7 settembre 2013

Partecipazione al corso intensivo dedicato al dibattito e confronto in sociologia e antropologia urbana, e partecipazione al workshop con il prof. Jeff Ferrell sulle culture popolari urbane.

From bailes to bailes: the flows of funk carioca through largo, asfalto and morro.

Ethnography of a changing music genre: prohibition and recognition in the city of great events.

My research on funk carioca music genre questioned the relationship between music and metropolis, namely the urban soundscape of Rio de Janeiro and the perception of different urban areas and neighborhoods. Historically, funk carioca has drawn a geo-historical and cultural path from its original milieu, the ‘morros’ (the hills hosting the favelas), all the way to the ‘asphalt’ (the way Carioca people refer to the flat areas inhabited by middle and upper social classes) and reached at least one of the most important public squares of the city. Particularly, the diffusion of bailes funk (“funk balls”) – context in which funk music is played and underlies processes of socialization and production of collective identities – in these pragmatic milieus, stimulated rhetoric and policies which aimed to prohibit funk carioca and bailes funk in the favelas and marginal areas of Rio. During my fieldwork (2011-2012), Rio saw an exponential increase in public order and security measures due to the large scale sporting events the city is going to host over the coming years (Olympics, World Cup, etc.) and one of the first consequence of the militarization of favelas (pacificação) is the shutdown of bailes funk. Meanwhile, certain groups of funkeiros (“funk fans” and artists) formed movements aiming to elevate the status of the funk carioca genre as “culture” of the city. Their battle for recognition of funk carioca is marked by tactics of occupation of symbolic urban areas, such as public squares and some institutional and representative places. Central to my fieldwork and dissertation was the comparative analysis of bailes funk organized in the morros, in the asfalto and the Rio Parada Funk demonstration, which took place at Largo da Carioca (Carioca’s Square) in October 2011. The comparison puts at stake a wide range of topics, such as urban politics and policies of segregation and militarization, music and its social contexts, youth cultures and social classes, as well as processes of urban interaction and spatial representation, invention of collective identities and recognition of popular and ethnic cultural expressions. As a consequence of my dissertation, it is my aim to carry on with the study of urban ethnography and in particular the urban sound geography. But, if in the previous research I focused on a specific segment of Rio’s urban soundscape, namely funk carioca music genre as incessantly audible all over the metropolis, it is in my interest to pursue the investigation of Rio de Janeiro urban context and transformations through the broader acoustic perspective and perception. For that reason, I am thinking about elaborating a research project concerning the sound mapping of the Brazilian metropolis during the World Cup stage. Urban transformation, public policies centered on public order and security, gentrification, street protests, the Carnival and other cultural and musical traits of the “Cidade Maravilhosa” could be analyzed through the ethnographic and acoustic lenses in order to get deeper into its complexity.


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