Batida of the Diaspora: Afro-Portuguese Electronic Dance Music in Lisbon

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Veal, Michael


Keywords: batida, African diaspora, citizenship, belonging, kuduro, Portuguese Africa, African urban culture Over the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, a range of new music genres emerged in Lisbon, Portugal that united elements of traditional Afro-Lusophone music with European and American electronic dance music (EDM) to create new hybrid forms. This dissertation is a historical study of the cultural, social, and musical influences of one of those hybrid forms: batida. Unlike other contemporary electronic music scenes, such as Angolan kuduro or Kriolu hip-hop, within ethnomusicology and popular music studies there has been scant attention paid to batida. My research seeks to fill this lacuna in scholarship and responds to Stefanie Alisch’s call (2017) for scholarly investigation into the development and localization of Lisbon’s contemporary dance music as more than a ‘blatant cultural appropriation” of the musics from which it draws. “Batida of the Diaspora” argues two main points. I first argue that batida is an important platform for cultural expression and resistance by Afro immigrants in Lisbon as they challenge notions of national identity, belonging, and citizenship. I contend that this dance music genre not only represents powerful artistic assertions of Afro-Portuguese identity, but has become a popular cultural export and more critically, an internationally recognized cultural symbol of Lisbon. Second, by illustrating how batida is in dialogue with other musics of the Black Atlantic, both sonically and socio-culturally, I elucidate the expansion of sonic articulations of Afro-Portuguese diasporic music cultures in Lisbon. Focusing on the roles of the local, monthly Na Surra and Noite Príncipe dance parties and the respective music labels that host these events, Enchufada and Príncipe Discos, I chart a trajectory in which the aesthetic and performative practices that reflect the musical creativity of Lisbon’s marginalized African communities are translated and re-directed into regulated cultural pathways in a postcolonial context. Alongside this narrative, I explore the symbolic power of these dance parties not only as spaces of sociability wherein a sense of community among both immigrants from Portuguese-speaking Africa and Portuguese nationals is created and nurtured, but as spaces where live musical improvisation and performance become vehicles for the transmission and entrenchment of novel socio-cultural behaviors on the dance floor.

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