Andrew Snyder

Inter-Migrant Belonging for Non-Brazilian Migrants in Brazilian Carnival Practices in Lisbon, Portugal


Brazilian migration to Portugal began in considerable numbers in the 1980s, and Brazilians are now the largest national minority. With varied representation of class, race, geographic origin, the most recent wave began at the end of Portuguese austerity and has included an increase in middle-class musicians, students, and artists. This last demographic has been key to the formation and exponential growth since the mid-2010s in Lisbon of a “street carnival,” referring to free musical events in public spaces and distinct from the more famous samba schools.

Organized into blocos, or carnival music ensembles, participants learn instruments, technique, and repertoire through paid oficinas, or classes. The majority of these participants are of Brazilian origin, and this example fits a model of diasporic music-making through which migrants engage in a common culture that provides a sense of belonging in a new country.

However, non-Brazilian migrants, as well as Portuguese, are also notable participants in these groups, many of whom have pre-established contact with Brazilian culture and music and have found Lisbon attractive for its Brazilian music scenes. For these migrants too, Brazilian migrant practices, though not their “own,” can provide a sense of belonging in Portugal. Portuguese participatory musical traditions do not generally attract the same level of foreign participation, making Brazilian musical practices appear more cosmopolitan and Portuguese ones provincial by comparison. Importantly, because of the middle-class profile of the street carnival, the non- Brazilian migrants who participate are more likely to be white Europeans, North Americans, and South Americans rather than Black migrants from African ex-colonies despite sharing the Portuguese language. This presentation examines how migrant practices of ex-colonies might create spaces for belonging beyond the migrants generally identified with such practices, moving away from an essentialized conflation of migrant musics with bounded migrant communities.


Andrew Snyder received his PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley and is currently a Research Fellow in the Institute of Ethnomusicology at NOVA University of Lisbon in Portugal. He is the author of Critical Brass: Street Carnival and Musical Activism in Olympic Rio de Janeiro (Wesleyan University Press 2022) and several articles in journals including Ethnomusicology, Yearbook of Traditional Music, Journal of Popular Music Studies, and Luso-Brazilian Review. He has coedited HONK! A Street Band Renaissance of Music and Activism (Routledge 2020), At the Crossroads: Music and Social Justice (Indiana University Press 2022), and Festival Activism (Indiana University Press, forthcoming), and he is a lead editor of the Journal of Festive Studies. He is also a guitarist and trumpeter, and he co-founded San Francisco’s Mission Delirium Brass Band which has toured around Europe, Brazil, and the United States.