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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Afro–Puerto Rican bomba music and dance as practice and performance, outlining the dynamic tensions between theatricalized representations of the form (the stage) and performative enactments of community (the soberao). “The stage” draws on improvisational dance as practiced in the soberao, and twenty-first-century soberao is fueled by the visibility and cultural capital acquired through staged enactments of bomba. The differences between these two representational modes are primarily understood in terms of how the body constructs narratives of race and nation in both of these spaces. Close examination of the conventions of bomba dance as an improvised, embodied music-making enables an understanding of how these performance modes rely on the “speaking body,” which uses signifying gestures and embodied “speech-acts” to construct and intervene in the discourses of race, nation, and individual subjectivity and makes bomba effective in enacting an embodied response to antiblack racism.

Keywords: race, nation, Afro-Latina/o, logocentrism, improvisation, folkloric, embodiment, diaspora

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