SST Resources: Radiolas in Maranhão, Brazil

Almost three years into the project, our research on the street music technologies of the Global South moves forward at a good pace. To reach the goal of establishing Sonic Street Technologies as a new area of study at the intersection of cultural studies, STS, and popular music studies, scoping out the state of the art of the existing research in the field is a key starting point and thus an organic part of our methodology. Here the local SST team’s knowledge is most useful.

Our research collaborators around the world are not only generating new research; they are also consolidating the existing one and making it accessible. We asked each local SST team to compile an annotated bibliography on their field of expertise. This will not only sustain our own research, but also provide a starting point to the wider academic and practitioner’s community to engage critically with a specific SST scene.

This work of systematically engaging with SST as a unique cultural, technological, music and economic phenomenon is often unprecedented. It gathers resources from across a diverse range of fields and perspectives, privileging local voices. These annotated bibliographies are compiled in both English and the local language, to help bridge the anglophone research community and the rest of the globe.

Another notable feature of the SST resources is that they are not limited to academic publications. Despite sonic street technologies’ contribution to the local popular culture, in many of the countries where these apparatuses originate and thrive, they are not seen as a serious topic for research – often not as a culture at all. That’s why the knowledge often remains within the scenes themselves with the archiving process in the hands of willing practitioners, cultural entrepreneurs, and music lovers. Hence SST resources also include so-called grey literature: audiovisuals, blogs, YouTube videos and even social media channels, which are often the main source of information for the thousands of followers and practitioners. This inclusion aims to do justice to the vibrancy of these often-marginalized street music cultures and conveys their true size and scope.

So, we are glad to add to our Resources section:


Painstakingly compiled by SST Brazil researchers Leonardo Vidigal and Marcus Ramusyo Brasil, this annotated bibliography presents an overview of the state of the art of the research on the radiolas, the main sonic street technology in the state of Maranhão, Brazil.

With over five decades of history, radiolas are responsible for the adoption of reggae as a prominent music genre and a key identity tool for the people of this Northern Brazilian state. Reggae is enjoyed especially in the state’s insular capital of São Luís, which not coincidentally hosts the first Reggae Museum established outside of Jamaica.

Radiolas are a truly unique phenomenon, not least because they are exclusive to the Maranhão State,where they mobilize thousands of followers and a huge economic circuit, but virtually unknown outside Brazil. We would like to congratulate Leo and Marcus for this brilliant piece of research, and we invite our readers to take a deep dive into our new research area.

Image courtesy of Leonardo Vidigal.

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