I’ll be giving a presentation based on my new book DJs do Guetto as part of the Music Research Forum series hosted by the International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS) at Newcastle University. The talk is at 4pm (UK time) on 23 March and is a hybrid event, in-person at Newcastle University’s Culture Lab and online via Zoom. Booking for this free event is via Eventbrite. Further details below.
Walk through the high-rise projects of Portela, Prior Velho or Sacavém, on the northern outskirts of Lisbon, and you’ll find yourself in a very different city to the one that has been developing ever faster as a tourist destination in recent years. While the tourist industry sells the charm of downtown Lisbon via an emphasis on the famous yellow trams, the cobbled streets, old tiled buildings, maritime memories, fado houses and sardine stalls, the modernist grids of the outskirts remain largely unpromoted and relatively unvisited. Not surprisingly for areas developed to accommodate rapid urban migration from rural Portugal and from the country’s former overseas colonies, these suburbs have a more functional feel than the patinated historical centre.
But it’s in these outer neighbourhoods that one of the recent success stories of Portuguese music took root and then took off. The batida (‘beat’) sound of Lisbon has been gaining increasing global audibility over the past decade and has helped put the city on the map of contemporary global pop and EDM in impressive fashion. Scores of DJs from the former guettos have made their mark locally, with many going on to international renown. The story of batida’s success involves a series of border crossings that work to highlight (if not entirely overcome) geographies of racial segregation embedded into the postcolonial city. In this paper, I analyse the connections between musical and demographic isolation, while also making a case for batida as part of a broader assertion (encompassing hip hop, cinema and public art projects) of Black Portuguese presence. I draw on research carried out for my recent book DJs do Guetto, as well as explorations of Luso-African music-as-presence by other scholars and journalists.