I just used the word "folklore" when making a joke, but I couldn't help feeling weird. EVERY time I hear this word I think of Gilberto Gil, one of Brazil's greatest singer-songwriters. Thread follows.

He was Ministry of Culture in the Lula administration, and he did an amazing job. To give you an idea, one of his first acts was to change all materials produced by the Ministry into open-source Creative Commons licenses, down to the Ministry website.

Gil even attended free software conferences to discuss open culture.

(In contrast, Ana Buarque, who was Dilma's Minister of Culture, was very involved in lobbying for major artists (herself being Chico Buarque's sister), and she quickly removed all CC licensing.)

In Gil's first speech as Minister of Culture, he said something that kept with me to this day:

"Nobody here will hear me say the word 'folklore'. The connection between the erudite concept of 'folklore' and cultural discrimination is more than tight. They are intimate."

"'Folklore' is everything that doesn't fit, by its antiquity, in the landscape of mass culture, is produced by uneducated people, by "contemporary primitives", as a kind of symbolic enclave, historically backwards, in today's world."

"The teachings of Lina Bo Bardi warned me decisively against this trap.

There is no 'folklore', what exists is culture." - @gilbertogil@twitter.com

(Full speech in Portuguese: cartamaior.com.br/?/Editoria/M )


And that's so right. Every time you make a mental exercise to try to categorize folklore and culture, you realize you are drawing a line based on value judgements and ultimately prejudice. (For our local culture, in particular, a prejudice very rooted in colonialism.)

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