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Title: African batuko threats European waltz: music, dance and social tension in colonial Atlantic Cape Verde
Author: Ribeiro, Jorge Castro
Keywords: Batuko
Cabo Verde
Issue Date: Jul-2011
Publisher: Memorial University of Newfoundland
Abstract: After its discovery by the Portuguese navigators, the archipelago of Cape Verde was occupied mainly for slave trade and agriculture production. For more than a century slaves were brought across the Atlantic routes from different regions of mainland Africa, christianized and then sold to the Americas and Caribbean. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries a Creole culture took shape locally and a singular social segmentation mixed races but clearly defined social positions and powers: Portuguese colonial authorities, urban merchants and land owners, convicts deported, free rural workers descent from escaped slaves (vadios = “loafers”) and slaves. By the time of its independence (1975) Cape Verde was still largely a predominantly peasant society structured during the 19th century. The historical dynamics that lead to this frame included factors of social change as ecological crisis, slave escape and political tension. The repeated famine that struck slaves and their coaliation with land owners against the colonial rule was a mechanism of disruption of the social order. The relationship between different social groups was clearly reflected on the expressive behaviours adopted by each one. The local elites identified with European musical genres (waltz) while the vadios performed forbidden African inspired music and dances (batuko). The historical accounts throughout two centuries – or its absence – shows particularly well the tension and nervous balance between escaped slaves, land owners and colonial authorities. In this paper I discuss and share my ethnomusicological research about the processes by which some musical genres and dance practices of African descent survived two centuries despite its repeated prohibitions. The postcolonial appropriation and popularity of these practices – as the batuko, for instance – show how they changed their social signification and how they still have the power of representing a contemporary cape-verdian identity among diaspora communities all over the Atlantic continents.
Peer review: yes
Appears in Collections:INETmd - Comunicações

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