Cabral, popular music and the debate on Cape Verdean creoleness

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Abstract

Following Cape Verde’s independence from Portugal in 1975, young musicians based in the country’s capital, Praia, and in Lisbon’s metropolitan area created new popular-music aesthetics, reworking expressive genres from the island of Santiago that had been marginalised throughout Portuguese colonial rule. Based on the cultural emphasis of Amílcar Cabral’s political thinking and on cosmopolitan musical influences, this creative process challenged the official notions of Cape Verdean creoleness (creolidade), culture and identity fostered by cultural politics at the time of establishing the postcolonial state. This article questions the legacy of Cabral’s political thinking in postcolonial Cape Verde, especially its meaning for cultural politics and popular-music production. This strives to show how musicians interpreted Cabral’s ideas of ‘return to the source’ and the ‘re-Africanization of spirits’ to make audible the historical experience of a creolised blackness. While Santiago’s expressive genres came to be integrated with the official national culture, cultural hierarchies based on the antinomies inherited from colonial rule (Africa– Europe, low–high, popular–elite), persist in political and popular practices and discourses. I argue that this legacy explains the contingent creoleness assigned to Santiago’s population, which discursively slides between an excess and an absence of creole attributes. © 2018 The Institute of Postcolonial Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-451
Number of pages19
JournalPostcolonial Studies - Journal of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2018

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Keywords

  • Amílcar cabral
  • Cape verde
  • Creoleness
  • Popular music
  • Portuguese colonialism

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