One of the ways in which many commentators on fado have characterised it is as a cultural practice of remembering or, better, as a kind of collectivising memory work. But what is it that fado has forgotten or what kind of remembering does it enable? To ask this question, we need also to ask something about the places in which fado has moved and the actors that have enabled and used it. To ask these two question – where? and who? – is also to ask about the nature of the exchanges, encounters and representations that fado has enabled. With this in mind, then, I want to propose four observations.
Fado can thus be thought ethnographically and psychoanalytically as a kind of memory work and as such, it offers a striking case study in the public cultural work of remembering and forgetting. Its reparative force, to use a term from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, is complex, by no means efficient and far from universally productive in therapeutic terms, but cultural practices inevitably take up complex relations with the jouissance of suffering and easing that suffering.