NDIAS Faculty Fellow Scott Alves Barton has published an essay entitled “Radical Moves from the Margins: ‘Enslaved Entertainments’ and Harvest Celebrations in Northeastern Brazil.” The article appears in the collection Celebrating Flamenco’s Tangled Roots: The Body Questions, edited by K. Meira Goldberg and Antoni Pizà (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2022). Barton is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Food Studies at New York University.
Abstract: In “Radical Moves from the Margins: ‘Enslaved Entertainments’ and Harvest Celebrations in Northeastern Brazil,” Scott Alves Barton examines the tensions of Brazil’s sugar economy, in which culture is a series of “contingencies,” acting as the agent, the fuel, and the codependent of capitalism. As sugar plantations devoured the bodies of millions forced to labor there, the allegorical Bumba Meu Boi festival enacts an inversion in which, in “a radical act of self-determination,” an enslaved woman’s “pregnant cravings for (the master’s favorite) bull’s tongue” are satisfied. This ingestion in turn materializes “’the power of the ‘negros d’àgua,’ (water bulls, cows, dogs, and horses)” linking mortals to ancestral entities—the “Bantu cosmography of the Kalunga line”—and “the agency that they can assert within the world of the living.” “Beyond syncretism,” Barton concludes, a “transcultural two-way street” emerges “where a give-and-take between cultures allows the heretofore subaltern to have greater agency in relation to the hegemon.”