The Musical Afterlives of the Kongo Kingdom: Music and Decolonization between West Central Africa and Cuba in the 20th century
Charlotte Grabli will present a lecture on May 1, 2023, on the music and cultural practices of the Kongo region, which are known for having widely spread and evolved across the Atlantic, especially in Cuba, during and after the slave trade. Afro-Cuban music, in turn, had a transformative influence on the former territory of the Kongo Kingdom.
The music and cultural practices of the Kongo region are known for having widely spread and evolved across the Atlantic, especially in Cuba, during and after the slave trade. Afro-Cuban music, in turn, had a transformative influence on the former territory of the Kongo Kingdom. From 1930 onwards, Afro-Cuban son recordings inspired popular musicians along the coast of the North of Angola, Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville and led to the creation of Congolese rumba. This paper analyzes how these regional and transatlantic musical circulations generated new visions of pan-Africanism in the twentieth century. It goes beyond the urban setting usually used in the analysis of African popular music to understand the role of this "musical region" in the decolonizations. Through an analysis of colonial archives, the press and music recordings, the presentation will follow a double movement, along the African coast and across the Atlantic. First, I will focus on the cross-border development of Congolese rumba that involved Kongo musicians from northern Angola and contributed to blur colonial superimposed borders and ethnic identities. Second, I will examine the political evolution of this musical world in the 1960s and 1970s, when revolutionary Cuba and Congo-Brazzaville developed new musical exchanges in parallel with their political and military cooperation.
Dr. Charlotte Grabli is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at UCLA History Department and in the International Center for Research on Slavery and Post-slavery (CIRESC-CNRS) in France. Her research interests include the history of politics, music and listening in Africa and the Atlantic world. She is currently developing a postdoctoral project on popular dance music, radio and decolonization in the two Congo and Cuba from 1930 to 1980. She is also working on a book that is tentatively titled, “Sonic Urbanities: The Sounds of Pan-Africanism from Kinshasa to Johannesburg, 1930-1960,” which will be published by ENS Editions.
Monday, May 1, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:45 PM (Pacific Time)
10383 Bunche Hall, UCLA campus
Published: Friday, April 21, 2023