Mistério do samba

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University of North Carolina Press, 1999 - History - 147 pages
3 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 groups--poor and rich, weak and powerful--often 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.

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Review: Mystery of Samba

User Review  - Naeem - Goodreads

A beautiful book: the forest and the trees of samba. I had planned only to skim it. I was looking for a quick description of samba. But when I entered I lost track of my original purpose. If you are ... Read full review

Review: Mystery of Samba

User Review  - Tako - Goodreads

A good read for anyone interested in the historical background of Brazil and the roots of samba as it transformed into what we see/hear today as essentially Brazilian. Read full review


The Mystery
Popular Music and the Brazilian Elite
The Unity of the Nation

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About the author (1999)

John Charles Chasteen is Patterson Distinguished Term Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both a writer and a translator, his books include Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America.