Historiography

On researching cultural connections from Latin America to Angola, I found most of these sources to be very recent because of the Angolan Civil war that ended only recently. Because of that the information is very newfound and the environments that surround them are changing to this day. Notably, the suitcase traders that go from Luanda, Angola, to Sao Paulo Brazil have often shifted their sights to China because of a comparative advantage that the women can get when they trade with Chinese fashion merchants. However, because this class pertains to Latin American connection with other parts of the world, I did not focus on that as an issue. With that said, one of the first and most important secondary sources is a 2017 paper done by Lea Barreau-Tran, titled, Les Courbes de Son Monde: Mobilites d’une Commercante Angolaise dans la Peripherie Global (The Curves of our World: Mobilities of an Angolese Shopkeeper in the Global Peripherie). This paper set the tone for my research because it showed how the growing fashion market in Africa, specifically Angola, was taken into the hands of female merchants, the most famous being the Nazas Benz of Togo[1]. Furthermore, it discussed that that the reason these women were inspired to make a profit was from the popular Brazilian Telenovelas that were shown in Angola because of their Lusophone connection. This aspiration of wealth also inspired the genre of Kuduro, which is an afrobeat and Caribbean inspired hip hop genre that comes out of Angola specifically. With the articles about Kuduro in addition to Angolan culture, I can find the connections to Brazil. Brazil is a major cultural influence on many parts of Africa because of its shared Africana roots, but Angola in particular, genuinely had nothing to offer economically or culturally after its independence and its civil war. Therefore, studying the cultural influence Brazil has had on Angola opens the window to see what Angola has come out with due to its Brazilian influences. For my pertinent secondary sources, I aim to research the growing culture and financial aspirations of the Angolan people through looking at Kuduro and their fashion trade with Brazil, which is heavily influenced by telenovelas that portray what an upper-class person in the Lusophone world should express their material relationships.  

            Barreau-Tran uses a feminist and economist position when writing about the suitcase traders in Luanda. She argues that the poverty that has been in Angola for generations, along with the structures of power that let women hold property and wealth. Along with this, she analysis that the suitcase trade in particular is a disengagement from state economics because of the extreme levels of poverty that the state has let happen over the years [2]. Because of this, the women want to get away from non-government organizations that are doing nothing to help and only keep them in poverty. The women cited in the article want “space for freedom”[3] and a space to create affirmative action in both political and economic spheres of influence so they themselves can create a change in their own lives. The most important part of this article lies in under the subheading “La carte du monde de Linda.” Linda is a thirty-six-year-old shopkeeper who travels all over the world to trade clothes. She showed the home improvements that she had done as well as her husband’s Hyundai, all of which were from the money she made from her business[4]. This shows me that the economic conditions as well as aspirations of wealth that these women have been able to afford by competing in this grey area of international commerce that is suitcase trading. Linda elaborates and says that one of the main reasons that they travel to Brazil is because of Brazilian and Mexican televisions series, telenovelas. They want to dress like their favorite television stars. Barreau-Tran explains further that the Brazilian material culture is one of the most powerful aspects that comes from the television shows, and that Angolan’s have adopted it and has been a large reason why the suitcase traders choose desirable fashion for their clients[5]

            My second and third important sources are on the cultural importance of Kuduro to the people of Angola. Anatomy of Kuduro: Articulating the Angolan Body Politic after the War by Marissa Moorman explores the “hard-ass” culture that has formed the dance music genre (Kuduro means hard-ass or in a hard place). She starts off by talking about one of the most influential rappers Cabo Snoop, and his 2010 release of the song Windeck and how it earned him an MTV African Music award later that year in December for best Lusophone act[6]. Similar to the suitcase traders, Kuduro rappers feel as if this is the only way to escape poverty. Moorman argues that informal systems of infrastructure, like that of the Kuduro music industry, are created bcasue the state does not take good enough care of its people and its infastructures that are in place. Furthermore, the children of the Angolan president who own “Da Banda and Semba Comunicaceos” are trying to rebrand Kuduro politically as “os Kuduristas[7].” This rebranding is a capitalist scheme to unite Angolans under Kuduro as a music genre for the people, as it already is. Kuduro as a genre speeds up and slows down beats and provides a way to dance that to some would seem against traditional values. The values that these people are breaking down are from the old Angola back in the 70’s through 90’s where its government was so caught up in itself it had not time for the people, so of course, now in a state of peace, the people want to break those values and create new contemporary ones in their place. It is the music of the slums and the people that the wealthy of Angola have forgotten about. The music videos frequently point out failing infrastructure and speak to the wealthy class of Angola telling them, essentially, not to tell us what to do because you have done nothing[8].  

Lastly the article titled O KUDURO, PRÁTICAS E RESIGNIFICAÇÕES DA MÚSICA: CULTURA E POLÍTICA ENTRE ANGOLA, BRASIL E PORTUGAL by Frank Marcon speaks on the contemporary identity politics that have been rapidly changing in the Lusophone world since the 1990’s. The Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) was made to keep a communal history and culture across borders of all Portuguese speaking countries. However, from the rapid technological development and new cultural identities coming out of every corner of the world, it is increasingly difficult to keep the singular culture. Marcon argues that because of digital media like mp3 and digital music, genres like Kuduro can be transferred across the world and to different neighborhoods with ease[9]. As well as with friends across borders, the internet makes it extremely easy and virtually free to exchange ideas and music, therefore contemporary culture. From this analysis by Marcon, I can develop my ideas about how fashion, style, music and wealth all play an interconnected role in the Lusophone world. Because the Lusophone world is connected in such an expansive way in the present day by connecting a collective of cultures that speak the same language, I can further view how ideologies spread from one country to the next.     


[1] Léa Barreau-Tran, “Les Courbes de Son Monde : Mobilités d’une Commerçante Angolaise Dans La Périphérie Globale,” Recherches Féministes 30, no. 1 (n.d.): 200. Pg. 203

[2] Barreau-Tran. Pg. 203

[3] Barreau-Tran. Pg. 204

[4] Barreau-Tran. Pg. 206

[5] Barreau-Tran. Pg. 211

[6] Marissa J. Moorman, “Anatomy of Kuduro: Articulating the Angolan Body Politic after the War,” African Studies Review 57, no. 3 (2014): 21–40. Pg. 22

[7] Moorman. Pg. 25

[8] Moorman. Pg 32.

[9] Frank Marcon, “O KUDURO, PRÁTICAS E RESIGNIFICAÇÕES DA MÚSICA: CULTURA E POLÍTICA ENTRE ANGOLA, BRASIL E PORTUGAL – doi: 10.5216/hr.v18i2.29868,” História Revista 18, no. 2 (2013), https://doi.org/10.5216/hr.v18i2.29868. Pg. 393-395

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s