Guerra, Paula: Dystopian grammars and resistance policies in contemporary Portuguese popular music

In his essay ‘Amanhã chegam as águas’ Tomorrow the waters will come, Rui Zink declares that “the sea advances, flooding Europe’s territories, where no more countries exist. Decisions are made in New Brussels. Portugal is, at the time of narration, just a narrow land fimbria.” Inspired by this utopian essay, we will tackle 10 new Portuguese popular music songs that “sing” a dystopia of contemporary Portugal in a post-2008 crisis context. Subjacent to such analytical focus is the perspective that art and culture, in their myriad facets, reflect their times. They express how we understand and place ourselves upon the world. However, they go beyond that, playing a key role in the way we imagine new realities, utopias, dystopias, and revolutions. Throughout history, there are many examples of artistic and artists’ movements creating links between aesthetic production, political struggle and social change. The creative and artistic dimensions as arenas of social and political expression are increasingly important as sources of critical thinking, resistance, antagonism, and alternatives in the face of traditional political systems and what they represent. We currently live in a particularly critical period where the arts may assume a central role. We live in times when extremism and populism are expanding, and the political system is the target of generalised distrust. On the other hand, we also live in a time of environmental collapse, and of questioning the old economic order which is at the root of deep social and ecological rifts. In this critical context new voices arise, as well as new grammars of political, technological, environmental and spiritual action, mobilising around such diverse causes as human rights, gender equality, anti-racism, environmental crisis, etc. Entwining music and activism in a dystopian register institutes itself as an indelible expression of active citizenship and participation in the public sphere, not only due to the authenticity of creation and the artistic act, but also for its capacity to bring new issues into the public agenda, igniting a renewed discourse in the political arena.