Sounds, words, images, and politics in contemporary Afro-Portuguese music

Principal researcher: João Mineiro

Research group: Governance, Policies and Livelihoods


Music | Culture | Politics | Afro-descendants

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



Start date





2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the Portuguese Revolution and the end of thirteen years of colonial war. Although the end of the dictatorship and colonialism have a historical interdependence, throughout almost half a century, Portugal has avoided discussing its colonial past. As a result, a new literature emerged discussing the non- incorporation of many black people as real citizens in Portugal and the persistence of various modalities of racism and social exclusion. Nevertheless, the second and third generations of African descendants always found new strategies to challenge the representation of Portugal as a cosmopolitan country, pacified with its colonial past. My hypothesis asserts that music has been one of the most important tolls for cultural and political affirmation for the Afro-descendants and used as a weapon to fight the reproduction of social and ethnoracial inequalities. Following on this approach, the objective is to study the actors, artistic objects, performances, and discourses of what we can call "contemporary Afro- Portuguese music", defining it as the set of musical expressions produced mainly by Portuguese black people that mix and fuse a set of traditional African musical genres with globalized urban sounds. The project has the following guiding questions: in what ways are second and third generations of African descendants, through music, changing the self-representation of Portugal by revisiting the past, disputing the present, and redefining imaginaries about the future? To what extent is the affirmation of their voices influencing the production of places, public policies, and collective action? Are we witnessing a cultural affirmation process with significant political impacts in post-colonial Portugal? Based on an ethnographic approach, this study will relate the concepts of culture and politics by mapping the sounds, words, images and politics that Portuguese black people are developing to question the place that racialized bodies and their voices occupy in Portuguese society and culture. First, I will do a multi-sited ethnography of a set of communities of practice involved in the production and dissemination of these artistic objects. In addition, I will interview a variety of protagonists, including musicians, producers, curators, journalists, filmmakers, and activists. Finally, I will perform a documentary content analysis on the narratives these actors produce on lyrics, imagery content and interviews granted to the mainstream and independent media. In terms of production and dissemination, this research will result in a wide number of scientific publications, but also different forms of communication aimed at a non-academic audience. Thus, this project will allow not only to develop a new set of methodological tools, but also to contribute to public debates on racism, colonial heritage, culture and politics.