I lived in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil during the second semester 2012, doing an academic stay at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, UNICAMP. There I conducted ethnographic research with a group of sambistas that develop a project of an open roda de samba called Sibipiruna, which is the name of the tree that gives its shadow when they meet to play in the sidewalk of a small bar. The project is made up of a monthly face to face meeting, in which a dozen musicians form an open round invite those who attend the event, to participate by playing an instrument, dancing, singing and accompanying with clapping hands. The round is also constituted by an every day online life through different sociotechnical platforms (Facebook, blog, YouTube posts, emails etc). At both spaces a roda de samba is being built, as the organizers of the project manifests:
We are creating a space, occupying a space in a way that is socially constructed (Rodolfo)
We are in direct contact with the community in a sense to offer a choice of leisure (…) In that sense, we are occupying a space that is being socially and culturally built: we sing, dance the samba, which is a historically repressed music, both, by the dominant classes and by the police.. (Leandro)
I think (Sibipiruna) arose from a demand. I think we are building the samba in the same way is here remained, a way that we have here, of collectivity, of cherish, getting together to sing… (Maíra)
But, what is probably a core on this sociotechnical roda de samba construction is the affect circulation between the members of the proyect: samba respect, mutual respect, public displays of affection, the thanks, compliments, jokes among project members are common expressions we can perceive and are develop both online and offline. Affection is circulating and facilitating, or rather composing (as songs), worlds. Affect as “a chorus of feelings barely felt through which events begin to take form. (…) Affective worls is collective worlding” (Manning: 2010: 124).
A question that cames when I was doing my fieldwork, and when writing about it, is if affect has to be a fact in a culture where the physical contact, eye contact (olhar nos olhos) is a fact, as it is in Brazil. And the reverse: a culture without physical contact is lack of affection? (My questions are perhaps influenced by my new experience of living in a non touch / non eye contact culture, I do not know..). I would argue anyway that, at least in the case of Sibipiruna, as the socially built space is both physical (the public space of the sidewalk of the bar where they meet every month) and virtual (multiple social connections built from different sociotechnical platforms that they use), the affect is a common denominator in every social sphere they share, because of the affective and open ways they build their spaces and relationships. This means, I think, that affect is not a given fact in a culture of physical contact. And, I am thinking about affect, while displays of affection toward samba and between pairs is an ability to affect other and and being affected. Affect that touches “the more incomplete and open body, which is affected by other people’s bodies in a variety of ways, (…) and work beneath the level of consciousness and language. In contrast to the purposive rational instrumental view of the body governed by the ‘marketing’ self (as in the image of the mind as the driver and the body as the car), the affective body is open to misreading and provides an excess of embodied information” (Featherstone: 2010: 199) without the need to touch or to have eye contact.