Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Vrushali Patil

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Andrea Queeley

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Victor Uribe

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Benjamin Smith

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


other anthropology, social and cultural anthropology

Date of Defense



This dissertation examines the performative space of roots reggae music and dance performancescape in São Luis do Maranhão, Brazil. It examines the ways in which Caribbean sounds are employed by Afro-Maranhese to create performative spaces that contest representations of blackness in Brazil. In this examination, I address how Afro-Maranheses engage in the process of transformation by appropriating Caribbean Sounds in the performative spaces of blackness. The dissertation also examines the ways in which these performative spaces, as spaces of struggle are objects of legal forms of surveillance, discipline and punishments that are targeted by the policia militar (military police) because they critically challenge the state’s representations of blackness. I make two pronounced contentions to support all of my arguments in this study. Firstly, I posit that musical and dance practices are essential to the understanding of the production of Afro-Brasilidade Space—what I have termed as the dialogic performative space that represents the series of repeated responsive performances that Afro-Brazilians engage in, in the challenge of the state’s simultaneous celebration of black culture and routine violence against black bodies. Borrowing Brah’s (1996) construct of diaspora space and Dirlick’s (1996) notion of “ancestralidade” (ancestrality), I define Afro-Brasilidade Space as the articulated and expressive space of contestation where representations of blackness are challenged. It is also the conceptual space that allows Afro-Brazilians to produce their versions of Afrodiasporic subjectivities, which I define as the ways in which Afro-Brazilians, like other people of African descent in the African diaspora engage in similar enunciations of contestation to combat their own experiences of racialized subjectivity. I employ this analytical framework to highlight the performative space of roots reggae music and culture in the critical practice of blackness, and how these are inscribed in and contest the pedagogical discourse of nation and citizenship organized around racial democracy as part of the broader Afrodiasporic performance-scape. Secondly, I argue that the study of an Afrodiasporic musical practices such as reggaeir@ismo requires an examining of different forms that agency can take, particularly agency in response to state violence against the black body. I argue that the embodied practices of reggaeir@ismo in the performative of roots reggae are counter-discursive and counter-hegemonic, and this explains why these spaces are heavily policed. I fundamentally focus my arguments on the assertions that Brazilian affirmative action, as a documentary practice is not fundamentally corrective. Using the reggaeir@ performative space as a lens, I examine how affirmative action as a statist discursive tool attempts to render invisible the contradictions between the lived realities of punishing and disciplining reggaeir@s through violent policing of their performative spaces and its promises of equal rights for Afro-Brazilians in its new racial politics.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).