Envy and “corporeal lockdown” in Maracatu de baque solto (Brazil)

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In this short paper, I briefly discuss how music and dance are related to health and emotions in Maracatu de baque solto (free-beat Maracatu), also known as Maracatu rural (rural Maracatu), a
Carnival performance staged in Pernambuco state, Northeast Brazil. Several Maracatu groups, with some founded in the early 20th century, are present in the small cities and rural settlements that dot the Zona da Mata Norte, a region dominated by the sugarcane monoculture. They are highly variable in size (from 20 to 200 performers) but are always composed of several masqueraded dancers, two poets improvising chanted verses (mestres de apito), a brass section formed by two to four musicians (músicos) playing trumpets and trombones, and a group of five percussionists called terno. The men and women performing in these groups are mostly rural workers and sugarcane cutters earning very modest incomes. Every year, they spend an impressive amount of time, effort and money on participating in the Carnival competition taking place in Recife, the state capital[2]. I first approached Maracatu within the scope of the anthropology of the emotions, a topic I explored in my previous research among the Romanian Roma (Bonini Baraldi, 2021a). Working on these matters implies, among other things, seeking to understand which emotions, affects, feelings or, more generally speaking, subjective experiences are involved in musical performances (Wolf, 2001; Becker, 2004). In this regard, it came as no surprise to learn from my hosts, the inhabitants of Condado, that “Carnival brings happiness” (O Carnaval traz alegria), an emotion that for Judith Becker (2004) is universally associated to musical performances. However, as my fieldwork progressed and my relationship with the “Leão de Ouro” (Golden Lion) Maracatu members became closer, I understood that other feelings are also at stake in Maracatu performances, specifically, envy (inveja).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of “The Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance (HELP-MD)” Symposium
EditorsFilippo Bonini Baraldi
PublisherInstituto de Etnomusicologia - Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança (INET-md), Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, NOVA University Lisbon
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
EventInternational Symposium: "The Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance" - Instituto de etnomusicologia (INET-MD), Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Duration: 21 May 2021 → …


ConferenceInternational Symposium: "The Healing and Emotional Power of Music and Dance"
Period21/05/21 → …


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