Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Interfacial Archetypes in Afro-Brazilian Cultural Studies: The Pan-African Consciousness of Marcio Barbosa, Paulo Colina, and Salgado Maranhao

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Interfacial Archetypes in Afro-Brazilian Cultural Studies: The Pan-African Consciousness of Marcio Barbosa, Paulo Colina, and Salgado Maranhao

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the Brazilian context, "post-modernism" betrays what Linda Huntcheon calls a phenomenon that can be best defined as "totally complicitous or totally critical, either seriously compromised or polemically oppositional." (1) The sense of irony and critical distance that postmodernism has invited has also brought about many mixed responses to its contradictory positions which may be summed up by the opposition between utopia and dystopia relative to the unfulfilled hopes and dreams articulated in the post-abolition era. In this essay, I explore the works of writers who are innovative and traditional at the same time with a keen eye on the "universal" to reach for humanism via the works of Paulo Colina, Salgado Maranhao, and Marcio Barbosa. That all these cultural producers choose the urban setting for their imaginative works is inevitable. The choice between the urban and the rural is a false option for the exigency of modernity and postmodernity demands that even the "rural" become subject to the critique of "primitivism" and "exoticism" that is usually associated with subaltern and indigenous societies. The very urban nature of slavery in Brazil especially in the geo-economics and politics of Coffee in Sao Paulo, Sugarcane in the Northeast, and Gold in Minas Gerais, ensured the post-emancipation location of African descendants in the urban areas. Even with the effects of labor migration from "arid" to "greener" pastures, such as from the Northeast to the South, did not have a significant economic reconfiguration or betterment of life as these "migrant populations" were contained within a space that is now known as favela [Slum]--a space that may be seen as both private and public. Within this shifting space and location, African cultures and religions survived in Brazil to the extent that the relics take on their own identity with universal ethos--hence the connections between the ancestral, the urban, and the human condition.

In her own discussion of "marginal poetry," (2) poetry produced in the 1970s in the wake of military dictatorship and what she calls a "new aesthetics of rigor" associated with the new poetry of 1990s, Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda defines "marginal" as an ambiguous expression which "oscillated between an inexhaustible series of meanings: marginal to the canon, marginal to the editorial market, marginal to the political life of the country." Although this assessment captures the challenges of members of the group of Quilombhoje and other individual Afro-Brazilian cultural producers, the poetic explosion of that generation, "traumatized by the limitations imposed upon its social experience (...) and the repressive mechanisms developed during the period of military dictatorship in the country," was not limited in aesthetic quality due to its obvious posture of transgression against canonical standards of literary historiography. Rather, what that generation brought to the fore was a kind of politics of inclusion--women and Blacks refusing to remain silent and be silenced by the mechanism of the dictatorship of politics, market, and "elite" culture. It is remarkable that of many individuals and groups, from the "affirmation of identity" groups, "Brazil of the landless," "gay outing," "digital reproduction," "spoken poetry," among others, only Elisa Lucinda is perceived by the miscegenated or white establishment as representing "poetry as show business" in a business that has equally marginalized significant poetic and cultural producers who have continued to produce since the seventies to date, such as Miriam Alves, Cuti, and Marcio Barbosa.

The case for the place of marginal poetry seems defeated if Hollanda's argument is that this poetry is less concerned with aesthetic rigor but simply with finding strategies of placing itself within the "small space" available for artistic creation and political statement. Even then, Elisa Lucinda does not represent the totality of afflicted and imaginative Afro-Brazilian cultural producers who toil to make a difference in the quality of life of the suffering masses. …

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