Estera Jaros (KCL) - 2017-18 Students

Samba de Roda on the Ground: A New Perspective on Gender and Intangible Cultural Heritage

This PhD project analyses gender in relation to Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) through the study of samba de roda, an Afro-Brazilian music and dance complex from the Recôncavo region of Bahia, Brazil. Since 2005, when samba de roda was included in UNESCO’s list of masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage, the local community has become ever more entangled in international cultural politics. By analysing the shifting perceptions of gender and sexuality in samba de roda culture, I hope to reach a broader view on how these concepts are jointly shaped by culture-specific and the broader socio-political factors. I will use ethnographic methods, including “learning to perform as a research method” (Baily 2001), to discover how ICH policies are transforming participants’ perceptions of the body, gender and sexuality and, at the same time, the ways that the practice is performed, consumed and understood. This research will add a gender perspective to the existing literature on ICH to further explore UNESCO’s impact on local cultures and analyse the potential upsides of commodification.

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