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Musical boundary-work: Ethnomusicology, symbolic boundary studies, and music in the Afro-Gaucho religious community of southern Brazil

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Gidal,Marc Meistrich, (Author)
Journal Article
Publication Date:
Winter; Winter, 2014
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Brazil, religious music, 36: Traditional music and non-Western art music, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, South America, black people, black studies, religion and religious music, Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre
Combines ethnomusicology and symbolic boundary theory to explain musical boundary-work: the creation, interpretation, and use of music to reinforce, bridge, or reshape symbolic boundaries for social, political, spiritual, or other purposes. The multi-faith and multi-ethnic Afrogaucho religious community of metropolitan Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, serves as the case study, because practitioners use musical liturgy to combine and segregate the Batuque, Umbanda, and Quimbanda religions and their denominations. This essay introduces the community, highlighting ethnoracial identity politics, and describes processes of musical boundary-work within the community, focusing on local concepts of crossing and purity.