James McNally F'18

James  McNally
University of Illinois at Chicago

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2018
Doctoral Candidate
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
São Paulo Underground: Creativity, Collaboration, and Cultural Production in a Multi-Stylistic Experimental Music Scene

This project investigates the interrelated dynamics of cultural politics, creative practice, and cultural production in the context of an independent experimental music scene in São Paulo, Brazil. Drawing from over a year of ethnographic research, it proposes a novel theoretical framework for understanding musical experimentalism in terms of hybrid, collaborative social practice. The dissertation first examines how independent actors organize alternative networks of cultural production in order to develop performance environments free from conventional institutional restrictions and foster collaborations between musicians from diverse stylistic backgrounds. It further addresses how the resulting circuit of cultural production affects the dynamics of experimental musical creativity. Finally, the project discusses the social ramifications of this phenomenon, focusing on the ways in which participants seek to develop more inclusive and egalitarian forms of discourse, performance, and community in the face of increasing stratification and authoritarianism in the contemporary Brazilian public sphere.