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Afro-Brazilian Performance on Rio de Janeiro’s Popular Stages from the 1880s to the Long 1920s

  • K-3.11, Strand Campus Strand London, England, WC2N 5RJ United Kingdom (map)

The Brazil Institute invites you to a lecture by Lisa Shaw. 


In this seminar I will explore the historical evolution of the representation of black subjectivity in the popular entertainment venues of Rio de Janeiro between the 1880s and the long 1920s, illustrating the tensions and contradictions that persisted throughout this period, as Brazilian journalists, authors, politicians, theater-goers, impresarios and especially performers contributed to the creation of a national identity more receptive to Afro-Brazilian cultural traditions and that drew on transnational circuits of performance. The analysis will be underpinned by an understanding of ‘blackness’ as both an identity based on family lineage and perceived phenotype, and a performative identity that can be adopted, exaggerated, played down or discarded at will. I will examine a number of case studies of popular performers identified as having varying degrees of African heritage that were active on the popular stages and cabaret venues in the city during the period in question.



Lisa Shaw is Reader in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at the University of Liverpool. She is author of The Social History of the Brazilian Samba  (Ashgate, 1999) and Carmen Miranda  (British Film Institute/Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). She co-wrote (with Stephanie Dennison) Popular Cinema in Brazil, 1930–2001 (Manchester University Press, 2004) and Brazilian National Cinema  (Routledge, 2007). Her monograph Tropical Travels: Brazilian Popular Performance, ‘Race’ and Transnational Encounters, 1880s-1950s is due to be published by the University of Texas Press in the autumn of 2017.

This talk, part of the King's Brazil Institute Research Seminar Series, will be followed by a Q&A and wine.