Primitive Modernities invites us to reconsider the boundaries that usually separate popular culture from the culture of the elite. It focuses on the cultural network that enabled popular music-tango and samba-to transform into national and modern forms. The origin of tango and samba is considered primitive, marginal. Yet in the early decades of the twentieth century, they each came to symbolize a nation: Argentina and Brazil, respectively. Garramu analyzes the aesthetic and ideological processes that enabled this transformation. Starting with the late nineteenth century, the author traces the changing meanings of the primitive in art, from savage and exotic to being linked to the modern. She considers t only music, but also painting, poetry, vels, essays, and films. Indeed, Garramu understands culture as fundamentally a space of differences. In this sense, the book is also a reconsideration of the field of comparativism and of Brazil's place in Latin American Studies.
Florencia Garramuno is Associate Professor and Founding Director of the Program in Brazilian Culture at the University of San Andres in Buenos Aires.