Countercultural Happenings: The Performance of Revolt in Brazil’s Tropicália Movement

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Emerald Publishing Limited


This research makes a fresh contribution by exploring an understudied aspect of the Tropicália movement: visual performance. After offering a historical overview, we examine the movement’s communicative legacy. We contend that, in addition to song’s lyrics and musical symbols, it is vital to consider a third dimension: visual performance. The addition of the visual allows for a more fundamental understanding of the many complex meanings that the Tropicalistas constructed in their resistance to political oppression, as well as broader cultural mores and expectations. Our examination of archival performance videos reveals that Tropicalistas employed modes of dress and a specific, intentional orientation toward their listeners as particularly powerful tools of expression. Revealing these two dimensions of Tropicália performance allows us to better understand the importance of performance as a key element of resistance. The Tropicália movement’s performative reconfigurations of self and other became a vital channel through which the Tropicalistas manage to speak truth to power to challenge the oppressive military regime and question assumptions about Brazilian national identity. Exploring the role of performance as part of the overall meaning of musical expression opens up new vistas of understanding. While relevant to Tropicália as a pivotal and wholly Brazilian artistic movement, the contributions of this study have implications beyond this particular setting. The analytical approach reveals how artistic movements can serve as both the substance and the expression of national being.

Chapter of

Brazil: Media from the Country of the Future

Part of

Studies in Media and Communications


Laura Robinson
Jeremy Schulz
Apryl Williams