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This chapter describes how thousands of working-class youths come to the Pelourinho on Sunday nights to sing in unison as they “translate” classic Jamaican reggae songs into Portuguese entirely on the basis of the songs’ prosody. It examines how the discussions of commodities and consumption in these Pelourinho “translations” interact with the ways that remaining Pelourinho residents—precisely those who were able to make claims to Pelourinho identities by convincing the state of their ability to properly represent Africans in the official national triad of black, Native Brazilian, and Portuguese—vehemently reject this elision of language’s referential features. This chapter extends earlier considerations of residents’ negotiations of state power and history into changes in Brazilian racial consciousness in light of experiences in the Pelourinho of the 1990s.

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