Arts Building, Riverside, CA 92507
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UC Riverside Department of Music presents:

Troubling the Good Time Blues:  Fado Performance, Placemaking, and Border Crossing in the US
with Kimberly
 DaCosta Holton (Rutgers University)

Part of the Florence Bayz Music Series

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and the Encontro Poruguês events

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023
12 noon - 1 p.m.
ARTS 157


Free and open to the public



Abstract: This paper examines fado’s powerful relationship to deterritorialization and the spatial poetics that condition fado in diaspora. Immigrant enclaves, often defined by frames of spatial multiplicity, where lives are contextualized according to places left and places arrived at, are fertile ground for the study of a musical genre like fado, known both for its topophilia, or love of place, and for its intense focus on making absent places present. This paper explores the ways in which multiple spatial frames inform and influence fado performance in Newark, New Jersey. The closing of Newark’s last casa de fado has forced the genre into “tight spaces,” where fado performers and audiences share evenings of entertainment with other musical genres and companion taste publics. Some view this hybrid format as a positive development, others as a negative. Those who see fado’s unmooring from traditional performance spaces as the cause of repertoire diminishment and audience misbehavior have pushed fado into spaces associated with education as well as into small private, home-like settings. Lastly, fado’s increasing vulnerability within the space of the enclave has resulted in charged border crossings and the emergence of a more heterogenous group of fado performers and aficionados. These border crossings are contextualized against the backdrop of a history of ethnic tensions in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood, and a move among some artists and community leaders to embrace a paradigm of mixture and exchange, with fado as a key expressive laboratory for such a shift.



Kimberly DaCosta Holton is Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Rutgers University, Newark.  Holton researches expressive culture in the Portuguese-speaking world, focusing on the intersections between politics, performance and migration.  Holton is the author of Performing Folklore: Ranchos Folclóricos from Lisbon to Newark (University of Indiana Press) and co-editor with Andrea Klimt of Community, Culture and the Makings of Identity: Portuguese-Americans Along the Eastern Seaboard (University of Massachusetts Press).  She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Institute for Research on Women.  Her scholarly articles and translations have appeared in numerous academic journals and edited volumes.  Holton is the founder and director of the Ironbound Oral History Project and is currently at work on a book about fado performance in the US. 




The CHASS Dean's Offic, the Center for Ideas and Society, and the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music


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Event Details

  • Allison Hedge Coke
  • Louis D. Armmand, Esq.

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