Chapter | Embracing postcolonial diversity? Music selection and affective formation in TAP Air Portugal’s in-flight entertainment system
Bart Vanspauwen and Iñigo Sánchez-Fuarros, both INET-md's researchers, authored a book chapter titled "Embracing postcolonial diversity? Music selection and affective formation in TAP Air Portugal’s in-flight entertainment system". This chapter is included in Legacies of the Portuguese Colonial Empire: Nationalism, Popular Culture and Citizenship (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023), a new reference book for the studies on popular culture and colonialism, coedited by Elsa Peralta (CEComp-UL) and Nuno Domingos (ICS-UL).
Abstract of the chapter:
Commercial airplanes have gradually come to supplant ships and other modes of transport as the vehicles connecting countries and continents. In addition to carrying people, modern aircraft have increasingly also delivered cultural content. With the rise of digital technology, interactive inflight entertainment systems became available to passengers to turn the sky into an almost stressless place for cultural consumption. Framing our work conceptually through theories of flow and mobility, we analyze a number of the soundscapes created by TAP Air Portugal, the Portuguese flag carrier, on its long-haul flights. Following the anthem "With arms wide open" launched in March 2011 – and on which Portuguese fado singer Mariza, Angolan semba musician Paulo Flores, and Brazilian MPB singer Roberta Sá sing in unison – we study some of the strategies by which TAP has aired on-board postcolonial cultural connections between Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking world. While we quantitatively analyze the categorization of music as a tool for brand management, we also reflect on the individual sound experiences that emerge through customizable in-flight playlists. On a broader level, TAP's publicity materials – across their visual, sonic and discursive dimensions – are also analysed in the light of eventual transitions between the colonial and postcolonial. Ultimately, our goal involves understanding processes of music selection, taste formation and brand management as TAP builds on existing cultural affinities to both strengthen loyalty and inform its mostly Portuguese-speaking passenger community.