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Assembling 'difference' through digitized music: the case of urban piracy in Recife, Brazil

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Abstract

This paper draws from work-in-progress research focusing on the piracy of digitized music within informal markets in the global south. We consider this topic with reference to empirical data garnered from an ethnographic study of informal media markets in Recife, Brazil. These markets are composed of piracy hawkers – street sellers with piracy stalls equipped with CD/DVD player, car battery and speakers, who walk the streets playing and selling copied digital media, particularly, locally produced music. Overall we seek to explore how these alternative means of production, distribution and consumption of locally produced content enable engagement with local culture and, through this, preserve their cultural ‘distinct-ness’ within the global south. We draw on Deleuze and Guattari (1987) assemblage theory and argue that these piracy stalls are part of complex urban arrangements which enact and extend the circulation and consumption of local music by means of local product and service curation, and through market scaling. Thus, they preserve and emphasize cultural ‘difference’ through digitized music. The findings reported here are based on ongoing analysis.