• Dança 3

Skopeophonie:  Participative and Dialogic Research of Musical Practices at Kova M neighborhood



Susana Sardo


FCT grant

PTDC/CPCMMU/4500 /2012

Research Team
Susana Sardo, Jorge Castro Ribeiro, Álvaro Sousa, Oscar Mealha, Rui Raposo, Ana Flávia Miguel. 

During the last decade, participative ethnomusicology – seldom referred to as applied ethnomusicology - has been an area of interest, academically and internationally speaking. The most obvious aspect of that interest is the creation of the Study Group of Applied Ethnomusicology, when the 39th ICTM, International Council for Traditional Music, Conference took place in Vienna, in 2007. The panel included six participants from several different countries and continents (Brazil, USA, Australia, South Africa, Slovenia and Malaysia), who were responsible for the creation of such group. The creation of an international research nucleus working on the same research domain results from the existence of common experiences and projects, amongst which the project Musiculture constitutes an international reference. Based on a partnership between the Ethnomusicology Laboratory of Rio de Janeiro Federal University (under the coordination of Samuel Araújo) and the NGO CEASM (Centre of Studies and Actions from Maré), the group Musiculture is located at Maré slums, in Rio de Janeiro, and it proposes an approach on the study of music, culture and society, particularly focused on music and violence/conflict. The group is constituted by young learners who live in Maré, which is also the study universe of researchers/researched that, since 2004, act in collaboration with the ethnomusicologist Samuel Araújo. The collaborative, participative and dialogical approach used by the group, using the pedagogic proposal of Paulo Freire, constitutes the main pillar through which researchers question established hierarchies and propose the production of knowledge shared with the community. The visibility of such production acquires two main domains. First, it is aimed to the scientific community and it can be checked through the publication of articles in international scientific magazines (Araújo, 2006; Araújo 2006), book chapters (Musiculture 2011; Araújo 2010), as well as attendances at academic meetings (Musiculture 2011; Reis 2008; Pinheiro 2011; Araújo 2006). Secondly, it is related to local projects based on the social intervention in the community and its participation in the project. This domain is materialised through the availability of research results to the community (data basis and music archives, for example) or through proposals of actions in local public schools. From our point of view, it is through this proposal that the social movements, and ethnomusicology research in particular, might build new knowledge paradigms which would radically break up with the modes of «conventional» ethnography conducted in the colonial world (Araújo 2010: 230)

In Portugal, the almost total absence of projects concerning participative ethnomusicology encourages us to try and apply some of the methodologies adopted by the group Musiculture – on which some of the proponents have already developed researches. We intend to develop a first experience in the neighbourhood Alto da Cova da Moura, hereby referred to as Kova M (a designation recognised by its inhabitants). Situated at Lisbon’s metropolitan area, Kova M is a neighbourhood that shelters immigrants from ex-Portuguese colonies in Africa. Being so, the large majority of its inhabitants are from Cape Verde. The neighbourhood was built based on the construction of habitation spaces which do not take into account any urban planning. Due to that, to the clandestine construction and also to several social and economical problems, some inhabitants gathered and created, in the 80’s, the Cultural Association Moinho da Juventude (ACMJ, in Portuguese). The association tries to maintain the inhabitants connected to their country of origin and supports actions that aim to integrate and improve the relations with the country in which they are now living. The association is able to do so by, for example, giving institutional support to musical groups such as Kola San Jon (Miguel 2010), the “batuque” group Finka Pé (Ribeiro 2012), wonderfull’s Kova M and even to the young group of rappers who work in the recording studio that exists in the association.

Our proposal consists in, through an institutional partnership between the Ethnomusicology Institute/University of Aveiro and the ACMJ, and professor Samuel Araújo as consultant, constitute a research group of Kova M young inhabitants, aiming to think about, study, and do some research on the musical practices of the neighbourhood. The survey and mapping of data on local musical practices, the reflection on the local sonority, its meanings on what concerns quotidian and social relations, the reflection on the gathered data (through ethnographic practice) and the collective creation of a local archive which will be available for knowledge and access of the community itself, will become a reality by applying the dialogical and participative methodology through:

Reviewing the concepts used in other case studies (such as in the Musiculture case) and evaluating its applicability in this new context;

Building knowledge by a truly horizontal dialogue, with an innovating connection between the community and the academy;

Forming/teaching researchers (who are, at the same time, researched) in the community;

Exchanging and sharing experiences between research groups with a participative and dialogical profile (Kova M/Lisbon and Musiculture/Rio de Janeiro);

Debating collectively the aims and research strategies, especially reflecting on the role and place of the outsider investigator in this and other contexts.


Keywords: Music, Applied Ethnomusicology, Migrant Communities, Participative Research