Business, Transnationalism, and Patrimony

Comparing Entrepreneurial Musicians in Recife, Pernambuco.

  • Falina Enriquez University of Wisconsin-Madison


This article examines how musicians involved in the government sponsored music scene in Recife, the capital of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, (meta)musically perform different versions of the ‘entrepreneurial self,’ a form of neoliberal subjectivity. Through comparing specific musicians’ practices and narratives, I argue Pernambucan state sponsorship is a mechanism which redefines citizenship on entrepreneurial terms and reinforces structural inequality. As government programs provide new opportunities to formalize and professionalize their labor, musicians face more bureaucratic and socioeconomic challenges that require them to broaden their musical labor to include skills like social media marketing and grant proposal writing. These expectations are difficult enough for middle-class, educated musicians to meet, but even harder for marginalized, lower-class, and racialized citizens to manage. By comparing how three musicians construct themselves as business-oriented, transnational, or patrimonial entrepreneurs, the article makes explicit what similar studies suggest, but often leave implicit: professionalism and entrepreneurialism are increasingly interdependent. Furthermore, while the entrepreneurial self is predicated on autonomy, these musicians' autonomy paradoxically depends on a combination of social networks and state sponsorship. In sum, the article reveals how individuals are creating new subjectivities to adapt to changing economic conditions.

Aug 1, 2018
How to Cite
Enriquez, F. (2018). Business, Transnationalism, and Patrimony: Comparing Entrepreneurial Musicians in Recife, Pernambuco. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 43(1), 6-27.