Bagunçaço : music for social change in Salvador, Brazil



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The legacy of colonialism has left an impression on Brazil that is still strongly present today, particularly in the city of Salvador, Bahia, and the connection between race and class remains quite conspicuous throughout Brazil in politics, business, and social settings. The 20th century saw the rise blocos afro as part of an Afro-Brazilian diaspora seeking pride in black identity and positive social change through concrete community-driven projects. This paper focuses on a newer community group, Bagunçaço, that follows in the footsteps of the blocos afro with an increased emphasis on the role of media in the social development process, using music paired with various digital technologies to educate, empower, and connect participants. The report is an ethnographic study based on first person interviews and observation by the author in Salvador, as well on as a biography on Bagunçaço’s founder, Joselito Crispim. The primary findings of the paper are 1) Bagunçaço serves to mitigate crime and violence among youth, providing kids with skill-building music, art, and technology activities to engage in during free time. 2) The group also serves a spiritual need of Afro-Brazilians by empowering kids with the context of their situation as part of a diasporic community that can resist oppression and gain upward social traction in a society permeated by historic racial hierarchy. 3) Bagunçaço transcends national lines with its international partnerships and engages in a digital exchange that is not only technology skill building, but an expansion of kids’ perspectives of the world beyond the poor communities that many of them would otherwise only ever know.