Researchers during lockdown (4)

©Laura Polo

Antonio Polo Monzo is currently a PhD student in Anthropology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. His doctoral thesis deals with the construction of political counter-discourse in contemporary Angolan music and artistic creation. He specifically focusses on the making of a new “angolanity” by young committed artists in Luanda.

Location during lockdown: Paris

“Only a digital research was possible during the time of the lockdown. During this period, I focused my research on the digital strategies of the musicians and artists that I ‘follow’ in Luanda, wondering how they were coping with this situation in an urban African context and what were their strategies to continue producing and spreading their artistic work.

My other interrogation was how the Angolan government and authorities were dealing with this crisis and what was the impact of their decisions on the cultural field.

In my opinion, the government in Angola has implemented ‘copy/paste’ measures inspired by China, Europe and the US, but without much consideration for the specificity of Southern Africa socio-economic realities, in which other approaches would be preferable. They need to adapt social restrictions and health strategy to the Angolan context in order to achieve more efficient and realistic results. 

Reading tips:  

I suggest Intonations. A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to recent times, Ohio University Press, 2008. In this book, Marissa J. Moorman offers a social and cultural history of the relationships between Angolan culture and politics. She studies how, in the late colonial period (roughly 1945–1974), Angola’s urban residents used music to ‘talk back’ to their colonial oppressors and, more importantly, to define what it meant to be Angolan and what they hoped to gain from independence. 

To go further :

Watch these videos by Antonio Polo Monzo, in which you will discover three young Angolan musicians performing in Luanda : 

Luanda sound #1 – Toty Sa’Med

Luanda sound #2 – Hélder Mendes

Luanda Sound #3 – MC Sacerdote