"The Mystery of Samba" Book Review by Master Researcher

"The Mystery of Samba"
A review of Hermano Vianna's "The Mystery of Samba".
# 36606 | 1,150 words | 1 source | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Oct 12, 2003 in Music Studies (World Music) , Latin-American Studies (General)


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Description:

This paper reviews Herman Vianna's "The Mystery of Samba", a cultural anthropology study of music in Brazil, which focuses on the use of 'racially-mixed' culture as a symbol for all of Brazilian culture. The writer explains that Vianna in his book, after detailing the cultural background and history of samba, uses samba as a device to show how Brazilian unity has been achieved even in the face of conflict and diversity.

From the Paper:

"The roots of the samba can be traced back as far as the beginning of what Vianna refers to as the 'Brazilian empire,' when the seat of the government in Rio de Janeiro was also the court-in-exile of the Portuguese king Joao VI. In an attempt to bring the court back to Portugal, the national assembly encouraged the decentralization of political power in Brazil. This began the 'centrifugal regionalization' that plagued Brazil both politically and culturally for much of the 19th century (p.38). A century later, political upheaval led the government towards a democratic system, still based in Rio, and the struggle to unify the disparate elements of Brazilian national identity began. One of the seminal works in determining what this identity would consist of was Gilberto Freyre's The Masters and the Slaves, which Vianna lauds as a brilliant evaluation of racial mixing as Brazil's distinguishing national characteristic (p.41). Another formative voice in mestico culture was the novelist Jorge Amado. The academic and popular acclaim that these authors received cemented the trend towards symbolizing all of Brazilian culture and history by reference to mestico culture and history. Cultural products like Afro-Brazilian cuisine, the samba, and 'Luso-tropicalist hygienic techniques' (which are not explained in the text) became not evidence of racial degeneracy, but significant parts of a collective heritage that was appropriated by all Brazilians, though it may have been specific only to a minority. Many anthropologists in Brazil and elsewhere have seen in this phenomenon a vastly prescient type of racial thinking, which seems to bypass the horrors of mid-20th century racism that had such perilous results in Europe. Afro-Brazilian culture had been appropriated by persons with a political agenda, but to unifying, not warlike ends."

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

"The Mystery of Samba" (2003, October 12) Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-mystery-of-samba-36606/

MLA Format

""The Mystery of Samba"" 12 October 2003. Web. 18 April. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-mystery-of-samba-36606/>

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