SpeakerLecture
Vanderbilt University
United States of America

Marcio Bahia is an Assistant Professor of Portuguese at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Vanderbilt University. His research interests include the application of mobility theoretical paradigms for the analysis of contemporary entertainment products and practices. After having published several articles on diverse subjects such as film, American cultural identities, and contemporary entertainment, he is currently working on a book length manuscript entitled “From Harry Potter to Tecnobrega: Mobilities in Contemporary Entertainment Practices.”

The mobilities of resistance in the Tecnobrega music scene, Belém, Pará, Brazil

In the early 2000’s, Brazil and the world got to know a particular music scene born in the poor outskirts of Belém, the greatest metropolitan area in the Amazon Region. Produced by and for the poorest Amazonian population for decades, ‘tecnobrega’ which translates literally as ‘technocheesy,’ was born under the stigma of ‘bad taste,’ and had always been considered tacky, and vulgar. Ignored by the mainstream entertainment industry for decades, tecnobrega agents learned to develop their own circuits of production and distribution based on piracy, total inexistence of copyrights, informal street vendor markets, mp3 file sharing and popular mobile rave-like parties known as ‘festas de aparelhagens.’ Aparelhagens are travelling sound systems that bring highly technological and kinesthetic entertainment spectacles to tecnobrega fans all over the Brazilian Amazon Region. By analyzing aparelhagem parties and comparing them to world-class theme park attractions such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, I will show how our liquid modernity and the appropriation of new technologies have enabled subaltern and excluded groups to create their own entertainment industries that defy mainstream circuits of cultural production. Furthermore, I will claim that in the case of aparelhagem parties, the kinesthetic nature of the spectacle, their technological power play and their collective dance movements go beyond the commercial function of selling a cultural product and entertaining mass audiences. They also assume the surprising and often overlooked role of destabilizing the socio-cultural dynamics of power in the region, thus subverting the subaltern position traditionally occupied by tecnobrega fans in their ongoing fight against cultural stigmatization.