Skip to main content
Browse by:

Surrendering to the Streets: DBI Book Manuscript Workshop

flyer for book manuscript workshop
Saturday, October 28, 2023
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Gray Kidd

Surrendering to the Streets: Black Artists of Laughter, Anger, & Reverence in Recife, Brazil, 1940-1980
By Dr. Gray Kidd (Villanova)

Synopsis: This work of Brazilian cultural history examines a humoristic universe that few scholars have studied or taken seriously. Set in the poor northeastern state of Pernambuco between 1940 and 1980, the book asks what it means that the deadly serious legacies of 330 years of chattel slavery were a source of both laughter and rage among the poor and nonwhite. References to the plantation "big house" and slave quarters not only permeated their jokes, but racism, with its wounds, also informed the popular "wisdom" expressed through their play.

Non-literate, poor, and nonwhite "artists of laughter" staged forms of entertainment where exaggerated interpersonal violence and racist insult could produce uproarious and bawdy laughter while African queens, with their court, would parade in the street with their Black dolls (calungas) in a reverent tribute to Africa. As a ludic counter-archive, mamulengo, bumba-meu-boi, and maracatu are shown to be a metacommentary from the "bottom" that offers key insights into how humble Brazilians understood authority, as well as the "authorities," while revealing their larger visions of class, race, gender, and morality.

Sponsored by the Duke Brazil Initiative. Please send your RSVP to Dr. John D. French at:

Contact: John French