Theses defended

The bumba meu boi as contact zone: trajectories and re-signification of cultural heritage

Maria da Conceição Salazar Cano

Public Defence date
January 29, 2019
Doctoral Programme
Heritages of Portuguese Influence
João Leal e Sandra Xavier
Acclaimed nationally as the most emblematic cultural manifestation of Maranhão, the bumba meu boi stands out for the playful character and the religious dimension, which can be observed both in its relations with popular Catholicism, especially in devotion to Saint John, and in its connections with Afro-Brazilian religions. With a trajectory marked by moments of repression, criminalization and social prejudice, the bumba meu boi went through a long process of cultural objectification (Handler, 1988) until it reached the status of identity symbol and intangible cultural heritage of Brazil.

Considering the performance of a group of political and social actors in this process, I examine the different speeches built around the bumba meu boi to understand the re-signification of this cultural manifestation (joke), the overlap of interests and the existing negotiations. By means of an anthropological and ethnographic approach and a field work carried out in São Luís do Maranhão, I propose an analysis of the bumba meu boi as contact zone (Pratt, 1999a; Clifford, 1999) and cultural hybridization (Canclini, 1998) in order to realize the extent to which the exchanges, contacts and interactions observed in and from the bumba meu boi are mediated by power relations.

Through the analogy of bumba meu boi as contact zone I try to reflect on the negotiations, exchanges and / or overlaps of cultures, people and interests in the various contexts that will be approached in this thesis. Thus, this study will also contribute to a better understanding of the uses of popular culture, its re-signification in the face of multidirectional exchanges, its contextualization in different social spaces, its transformation into an identity symbol and its re-signification in the current context of globalization, in addition to launching a new perspective about the bumba meu boi as a contact zone.

Keywords: bumba meu boi, contact zone, intangible cultural heritage