– Spring/Summer 2019

Unapologetic Soundings of Afro-Portuguese Creativity

Carlos Garrido Castellano, Jerssi Esperança Restino Paulo

Workshop at Hangar, Lisbon. 2018. Courtesy Ana de Almeida.

Lonely Planet named Lisbon the hottest tourist destination of 2017 due largely to what they called its rich and multifaceted heritage left by centuries of ‘cultural exchange’. The international recognition of Lisbon as uncharted touristic territory might have succeeded in portraying the Portuguese capital as a vibrant ‘multicultural’ and multiracial creative hub. Yet it is at least paradoxical that this recognition left many of the contradictions that derive from Portugal’s long experience with colonialism untouched. For instance, the cultural industry ignores the privileged lugar de fala (place of speech) from which the image of postcolonial Portugal has been articulated. Lugar de fala is used by Black activists and cultural producers in resistance to cultural appropriation of difference by mainstream academic and creative institutions. The expression highlights the situatedness and conditioned position from which each subject and collectivity speaks and acts. Being overlooked underscores the absence of racialised bodies and voices from academic and cultural spaces. We argue that arguments and ideas coming from ‘outside’ the lugar de fala are a potential alternative to processes of gentrification and cultural appropriation.

While Ana Teixeira Pinto has highlighted how cultural creativity is leading the gentrification and exoticisation of the city,1 other voices call into question how its rebranding as a supposedly multicultural and multiracial cultural capital depends on the programmatic silencing of the

  1. Ana Teixeira Pinto, ‘The Art of Gentrification: The Lisbon Version’, Afterall, no.45, Spring/ Summer 2018, pp.88–97.

  2. Fernando Arenas, ‘Migrations and the Rise of African Lisbon: Time-Space of Portuguese (Post) coloniality’, Postcolonial Studies, vol.18, no.4, 2015, p.359.

  3. Ibid., p.357.

  4. Vítor Belanciano, ‘O triunfo da Afro-Lisboa’, Público, 28 June 2015, available at https://www.publico.pt/2015/06/28/culturaipsilon/opiniao/o-triunfo-da-afrolisboa-1700358 (last accessed on 5 December 2018).

  5. Ibid.

  6. The Fundação Gulbenkian was created in 1956 and since then has played a central role in the Portuguese cultural and artistic milieu, funding art exhibitions, research and dissemination projects. The Fundação Serralves opened its doors in Porto in 1989.

  7. The Centro Cultural de Belém also opened in 1993 as a multipurpose cultural platform. Although it originally showed a more European-orientated artistic programme, more recently it has developed a postcolonial focus through exhibitions and the photographic Banco Espírito Santo prize.

  8. Inocência Mata, ‘Estranhos em permanência: a negociação da identidade portuguesa na póscolonialidade’, Portugal não é um pais pequeno (ed. M. Ribeiro Sanches), Lisbon: Cotovia, 2006, p.289.

  9. See Claudia Castelo, ‘O modo português de estar no mundo’: o luso-tropicalismo e a ideologia colonial portuguesa (1933-1961), Porto: Afrontamento, 1998; Miguel Vale de Almeida, An Earth-Colored Sea: ‘Race’, Culture and the Politics of Identity in the Post-Colonial Portuguese-Speaking World, New York: Berghahn, 2004; and Elsa Peralta, Lisboa e a memória do império:patrimonio, museus e espaço público, Lisbon: Outro Modo, 2017.

  10. See Guilhermo Aderaldo and Otávio Raposo, ‘Deslocando fronteiras: notas sobre intervenções estéticas, economia cultural e mobilidade juvenil em áreas periféricas de São Paulo e Lisboa’, Horizontes Antropológicos, vol.22, no.45, January/June 2016, pp.279–305; and Teresa Fradique, Fixar o movimento: Representações da música rap em Portugal, Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 2003.

  11. Kesha Fikes, ‘Emigration and the Spatial Production of Difference from Cape Verde’, in Nancy Priscilla Haro, Roger Sansi-Roca and David H. Treece (ed.), Cultures of the Lusophone Black Atlantic, London: Palgrave, 2007, p.110.

  12. In this sense, Luso-Afro house shares the strategies that J. Griffith Rollefson recognises in European hip hop, which he categorises as a postcolonial creative medium used by hip hop artists ‘both to differentiate themselves from and relate themselves to their respective majority societies’. J. Griffith Rollefson, Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2017, p.2.

  13. A critical analysis of the role of creative cities in commodifying creativity can be found in Matteo Pasquinelli, Animal Spirits: A Bestiary of the Commons, Amsterdam: NAi Publishers, 2008; Nato Thompson, Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life, New York: Melville House Publishing, 2017; and Oli Mould, Urban Subversion and the Creative City, London: Routledge, 2015.

  14. See Teixeira Pinto, ‘The Art of Gentrification’, op.cit. and Sandra Vieira Jürgens, Instalações provisórias: independência, autonomia, alternativa e informalidade. Artistas e exposições em Portugal no século XX, Lisbon: Sistema Solar, 2016.