Sonic migrations.
Congolese rumba and utopias in 20th century West Central Africa

Financement : European commission: H2020-MSCA-IF-2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Porteuse : Charlotte Grabli (CHS/CNRS)

Institution : CNRS/UCLA 

Durée du projet : May 2021- June 2024

CONGOTOPIA proposes a new approach to the historical phenomenon of colonization and decolonization by looking at the politics of African popular music, recording industry, and radio. It looks at how Pan-African utopias emerged and circulated in the cross-border music world of Congolese rumba, a popular dance music that developed in West Central Africa, across the colonial, and then national, borders of the Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Angola in the 20th century. It also studies how Congolese rumba built a musical, memorial, and political link with Cuba from the 1930s and 1970s—not only Afro-Cuban son inspired local musicians since 1930, but new music exchanges developed in the 1960s and 1970s between the revolutionary regimes of Cuba and the Congo-Brazzaville. This project deepens our understanding of Atlantic history from an African perspective, while addressing historical questions that matter to the broader public in Europe, Africa, and the Americas regarding the consequences of colonization and Pan-African solidarities.