Accepted paper:

Rio funk aesthetics: materiality and purchasing power in an urban Brazilian context

Authors:

Mylene Mizrahi (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore the nexus between beauty and purchasing power through a network of agents of a Brazilian musical movement. As ‘poor’ people, their productions are explained by analysts through the lens of what is lacking or absent. I interpret their aesthetics as a political project guided by strategies of visibility and a search for connectivity.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I explore the nexus between beauty and purchasing power. It is based on ethnographical data from my doctoral research, carried out through a network of agents of a Brazilian urban musical movement - called Funk Carioca - mainly produced by inhabitants of the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro. As 'poor' people, their productions are often explained by analysts through the lens of what is lacking or absent. I depart from these views by instead interpreting their body aesthetics as a political project guided by strategies of visibility and a search for connectivity. Material objects are carefully selected, and have their meaning manipulated, so as to establish ambiguous relations with 'high taste', with an 'official' world and a hegemonic culture. In this context, a wad of cash, or indeed a gold-plated rifle, can be used as empowering adornments, just as golden jewellery and hair extensions can also extend a person, be it a man or woman. From this perspective, understanding the role of these different items of material culture help us unveil the logic governing gender relations.

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Materiality and poverty