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Claiming Caribbeanness in the Brazilian Amazon: Lambada, critical cosmopolitanism, and the creation of an alternative Amazon

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Lamen,Darien, (Author)
Journal Article
Publication Date:
Fall; Fall-winter, 2013
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Caribbean area, South America, Mexico, popular music, Central America, Belém do Pará (Brazil)
Located in the eastern Brazilian Amazon roughly three hours by boat from the open Atlantic, the port city of Belém do Pará has been an important point of convergence for transnational flows of commodities, people, and culture, including a vast array of up-tempo Caribbean dance genres known locally as lambada. Since the late twentieth century, inhabitants of Belém and surrounding areas have sought to make a virtue of their liminal position between the hegemonic centers of southeastern Brazil and the circum-Caribbean. This article shows how musicians, dancers, listeners, and culture brokers draw on the local history of Caribbean cosmopolitan musicality to articulate an alternative Amazonian regional identity, one characterized by connectedness and proximity to their Caribbean neighbors rather than by isolation and provincialism. In so doing, the article contributes to the remapping of the cultural contours of Brazil, the Caribbean, the Amazon, and Latin America.