Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Jay Keister

Second Advisor

Brenda M. Romero

Third Advisor

Kwasi Ampene


This study investigates how the Pierre Verger Cultural Space (PVCS), an educational organization dedicated to teaching Afro-Brazilian culture in Bahia, uses music to construct a sense of Afro-Brazilian self. Located in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, the PVCS sees its mission as “rescuing” (resgatar) an Afro-Brazilian sense of identity and it promotes a sense of self based on African descent that can contribute to the possibility of greater social inclusion among marginalized Afro-Brazilian youth. Learning music is an essential part of this rescuing mission. Based on fieldwork conducted in Bahia between 2007 and 2009, this dissertation describes how the PVCS facilitates Afro-Brazilian music teaching and learning, examines the effectiveness of teaching and learning music in relationship to the stated goals of the PVCS, and identifies some of the problems encountered in such an environment. Data analysis takes into account educational and cultural dimensions of Afro-Brazilian music, which are interrelated and intrinsic to the researched community. Results show that Afro-Brazilian music teaching and learning (1) mediates African and Afro-Brazilian cultures, and (2) rescues Afro-Brazilian culture for PVCS students. Results suggest that in future investigations on music teaching and learning ethnomusicologists and educators must be mindful of the interconnections between education, ethnicity, and culture.