Past Event

City-Wide Café Society: The Art of Political Dissent presents

Cultural Cannibalism:

Negotiating Racial & National Identity Through Pop Culture

“Only cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically.” Such was the opening verse of Oswald de Andrade’s “Cannibalist Manifesto” in 1928. Directed at Brazilian elites who were inundated by Western Popular Culture, Andrade’s manifesto aimed to inspire fellow citizens to “devour” and “digest” external cultural influences into an original expression of Brazilian national identity. Nearly forty years later, a group of young musicians answered his call to cannibalism by incorporating North American rock and roll into the distinctive Brazilian musical genre, tropicalismo.

Join The Public Square at the IHC for a FREE tour of the MCA’s stunning exhibit: Tropicalia, followed by refreshments and conversations with diverse people from around the city of Chicago.

Following the tour, John Tofik Karam, Assistant Professor in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at DePaul University will speak about cultural cannibalism, cultural hybridity, and Brazilian identity. Karam is the author of Syrian-Lebanese Project in Neoliberal Brazil. He’ll help us explore such questions as: What is hybridity and how does it effect cultural, national, and racial identity? How does hybridity manifest itself in Brazilian music, art, and literature? How could thinking about race in terms of hybridity put us in danger of perpetuatingthe status quo of racial inequity?

Suggested Readings:

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John Tofik Karam is an assistant professor in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at DePaul University. His research and teaching interests of ethnicity, nationalism, globalization, Brazil, and the Arab Americas will be explored in his forthcoming book, Another Arabesque: The Syrian-Lebanese Project in Neoliberal Brazil.

Tropicália, one of the most significant cultural movements to emerge from South America in the last five decades, marked a true revolution in Brazilian music, visual arts, theater, and cinema, while also influencing advertising, fashion, and television. Inspired by the writings of Oswald de Andrade, one of the founding figures of Brazilian modernism, the movement took its name from an installation created in 1967 by the young Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, whose work embraced an aesthetic of informality, interactivity, and cultural hybridity. Tropicália also became the title of one of the most celebrated albums in Brazilian music history, featuring Caetano Veloso and others.

Reservations are recommended and can be made at

For more information, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.