Synopses & Reviews
Samba is Brazil's "national rhythm," the foremost symbol of its culture and nationhood. To the outsider, samba and the famous pre-Lenten carnival of which it is the centerpiece seem to showcase the country's African heritage. Within Brazil, however, samba symbolizes the racial and cultural mixture that, since the 1930s, most Brazilians have come to believe defines their unique national identity.
But how did Brazil become "the Kingdom of Samba" only a few decades after abolishing slavery in 1888? Typically, samba is represented as having changed spontaneously, mysteriously, from a "repressed" music of the marginal and impoverished to a national symbol cherished by all Brazilians. Here, however, Hermano Vianna shows that the nationalization of samba actually rested on a long history of relations between different social groupspoor and rich, weak and powerfuloften working at cross-purposes to one another.
A fascinating exploration of the "invention of tradition," The Mystery of Samba is an excellent introduction to Brazil's ongoing conversation on race, popular culture, and national identity.
For Brazilians, samba symbolizes the racial and cultural mixture that now defines their national identity. As the story behind Brazil's nationalization of samba, this book offers a unique approach to the country's ongoing conversation on race, popular culture, and national identity.
This very readable book provides an interpretation of an aspect of the Brazilian culture that has remained unexplored until now.
Choice An important contribution . . . . to today's lively multidisciplinary discussion about race, nation, and popular culture.
Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y El Caribe Hermano Vianna's new book is a valiant effort to make sense of both [Brazil's music and culture].
Lingua Franca A wonderfully knowledgeable and thoughtful investigation of how Brazil and samba helped create each other.
Alma Guillermoprieto, author of Samba A subtle and convincing analysis of the connection between popular culture and its manipulation by the elite.
Thomas E. Skidmore, Brown University
About the Author
Hermano Vianna is a Brazilian anthropologist and writer who currently works in television.John Charles Chasteen is associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Table of Contents
Author's Preface to the U.S. Edition
Chapter 1. The Encounter
Chapter 2. The Mystery
Chapter 3. Popular Music and the Brazilian Elite
Chapter 4. The Unity of the Nation
Chapter 5. Race Mixture
Chapter 6. Gilberto Freyre
Chapter 7. The Modern Samba
Chapter 8. Samba of My Native Land
Chapter 9. Nowhere at All
Chapter 10. Conclusions