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Contracultura: Alternative Arts and Social Transformation in Authoritarian Brazil

Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 272
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    Book Description:

    Christopher Dunn's history of authoritarian Brazil exposes the inventive cultural production and intense social transformations that emerged during the rule of an iron-fisted military regime during the sixties and seventies. The Braziliancontraculturawas a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that developed alongside the ascent of hardline forces within the regime in the late 1960s. Focusing on urban, middle-class Brazilians often inspired by the international counterculture that flourished in the United States and parts of western Europe, Dunn shows how new understandings of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship erupted under even the most oppressive political conditions.Dunn reveals previously ignored connections between the counterculture and Brazilian music, literature, film, visual arts, and alternative journalism. In chroniclingdesbunde, the Brazilian hippie movement, he shows how the state of Bahia, renowned for its Afro-Brazilian culture, emerged as a countercultural mecca for youth in search of spiritual alternatives. As this critical and expansive book demonstrates, many of the country's social and justice movements have their origins in the countercultural attitudes, practices, and sensibilities that flourished during the military dictatorship.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-2853-0
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Art & Art History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Power and Joy (pp. 1-35)

    Authoritarian military rule in Brazil between 1964 and 1985 coincided with an astonishingly effervescent period of cultural production and social transformation. To the multiple forms of state violence, censorship, and everyday forms of repression justified in the name of “national security,” Brazilians resisted in ingenious and numerous ways.¹ This book is about those young Brazilians who responded to authoritarian rule with attempts to rethink the idea of liberation during a period in which “the utopian verve” of the 1960s had come to an end throughout much of Latin America.² To varying degrees, these young Brazilians identified with and took inspiration...

  5. 1 Desbunde (pp. 36-71)

    “For my generation,” writes Alex Polari, “our option was precisely this: either flip out [pirar], trip out on drugs, or join the armed struggle. Heroism vs. alienation, as we who joined the armed struggle saw it; conformity [caretice] vs. liberation, as they saw it.”¹ Born in 1951, Polari was a teen during a period of cultural effervescence and political struggle in the mid- to late 1960s but reached adulthood during a period of severe repression between late 1968 and 1974, when public protest and left-wing cultural expression were suppressed and censored. Polari chose the “heroic” option as a member of...

  6. 2 Experience the Experimental (pp. 72-107)

    “Today, the phenomenon of the avant-garde in Brazil is no longer the concern of a group coming from an isolated elite, but a far-reaching cultural issue of great amplitude tending toward collective solutions.”¹ This well-known declaration by Hélio Oiticica (1937–80), one of Brazil’s most inventive and influential artists of the last half century, framed his manifesto-like essay for the 1967 Nova Objetividade (New Objectivity) exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, which sought to account for the current state of the avant-garde in Brazil. Oiticica had been a central figure in neo-concretism in the late...

  7. 3 The Sweetest Barbarians (pp. 108-145)

    In early October 1971, readers ofVejamagazine learned about a remarkable boom in tourism to Salvador, the coastal capital of the state of Bahia.¹ The front cover of the weekly featured a close-up color photo of an Afro-Brazilian man in a straw hat with the heading “O Brasil Baiano” (The Bahian Brazil). The lead story, titled “A redescoberta do Brasil” (The rediscovery of Brazil), portrayed Bahia as the “real” Brazil far from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.Vejareported a 17.6 percent increase in tourism to Salvador for that year, noting that the...

  8. 4 Black Rio (pp. 146-174)

    In an analysis of Afro-Brazilian university students in Rio de Janeiro, historian J. Michael Turner described a profound transformation that he witnessed over a period of five years in the early 1970s. When he began his research in 1971, he found that these students, who were either part of the black middle class or aspired to join it, identified with “white cultural norms” and generally avoided cultural manifestations regarded as “black” or “African,” which they associated with poverty.¹ They considered markers of black pride, such as afro hairstyles, dashikis, and head wraps, to be unattractive and even demeaning. These students...

  9. 5 Masculinity Left to Be Desired (pp. 175-200)

    In January 1972, only days after his return from exile in London, Caetano Veloso performed a series of concerts at the Teatro João Caetano in downtown Rio de Janeiro.Vejamagazine, which dedicated a cover story to Veloso’s triumphant return to Brazil, gave special attention to Veloso’s sartorial style: “Applauded, exalted, and idolized, the Caetano Veloso of 1972 wore low slung sand-colored pants, an unbuttoned, short cut Lee jacket, leaving his navel exposed.”¹ Photos from the concert show him without the jacket, wearing just a frilly halter-top that accentuated his body. With long, curly hair and lithe torso, Veloso dramatized...

  10. Epilogue (pp. 201-206)

    In “Os sobreviventes” (The survivors), a short story by Caio Fernando Abreu, a couple takes stock of a decade while chain smoking and sipping on vodka. To the sound of Angela Ro Ro, a lesbian torch singer who was popular in the late 1970s, the couple reflect on their past struggles, their shifting sexualities, and their intellectual passions. They are survivors of the long period of military rule who nurtured utopian dreams and indulged their passions and senses, but they have now been left disillusioned just as the country is returning to democratic rule.¹ Published in 1982, it was featured...

  11. Notes (pp. 207-234)
  12. Bibliography (pp. 235-250)
  13. Index (pp. 251-256)