Spanish and Portuguese Colloquium: Mike Silvers – “Brazilian Carnauba Wax at the Dawn of Recorded Sound”

Thursday, September 15 (4 PM, Lucy Ellis Lounge – FLB 1080)
Mike Silvers (Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, UIUC) 

Brazilian Carnauba Wax at the Dawn of Recorded Sound 

Music scholars have, in recent years, begun investigating the sustainability of natural materials used in the construction of musical instruments and other music technologies. In this talk, I narrate a commodity biography of carnauba wax from northeastern Brazil as it was used in the fabrication of wax cylinders and 78 RPM records in the early years of sound reproduction. I suggest the story of the exploitation of (sustainably grown) natural resources for mass-produced music technologies is one of labor and trade relationships within the Brazilian Northeast and, above all, between the Global North and the Global South.
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