Songs of Freedom – The Construction of black identity by Afro-Brazilian songwriters
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This thesis discusses the ways in which a black identity is constructed and expressed through lyrics by a group of composers of popular Afro-Brazilian music. I show that Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities can be used to illustrate the collective black identity which these composers construct. They imagine a worldwide black community based on a sense of a common origin, a shared past, a shared culture and shared experiences with racism and social exclusion. By imagining this community, boundaries between black and white are created and maintained. The identity construction of the composers should be viewed in the context of Brazilian race relations which are characterized by extensive race mixture, a myth of racial democracy, hidden racism and racial inequalities. With their lyrics the composers aim to protest against racial injustices and to spread black consciousness. Their racial views coincide with those of the Brazilian black movement, which opposes to the myth of racial democracy and aims to create racial awareness among the Afro-Brazilian population.