Making Music from Below in a Southern Italian Metropolis

The Neapolitan Music Scene between Commons, Latin American Rhythms, Sound Systems and Self-Produced Festivals


  • Roberto Sciarelli Universidade de Coimbra
  • Sergio Sciambra Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
  • Giulia Follo Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale
  • Salvatore Cosentino Conservatorio di Musica Domenico Cimarosa, Avellino



Naples, commons, counterculture, Scugnizzo Liberato, independent music


Postcolonial studies literature considered Neapolitan social centres as spaces of hybridization of music styles from the global South, observing their deconstructing potential against racist discourse. More recent cultural production in Naples shows elements of continuity and innovation: organizing self-managed music festivals and mixing-up Latin American rhythms and sound system culture with folk music, Neapolitan social movements keep re-elaborating music genres of different Souths. The result is an original combination of resistant musicalities, vehicles for political messages. In the light of our active participation in these movements, we describe the evolution of the countercultural landscape of Naples, which is related to the evolution of Neapolitan urban commons. These are political projects based on the principles on collective use of urban areas, in which autonomous cultural production is realized through self-organization and sharing of spaces and means of production. Secondly, we aim to describe the experience of the NaDir Collective, a cultural project born within the commons “Scugnizzo Liberato”, re-shaping it as an open space for music self-production. The purpose of the activists is to combine skills and passions to build inclusive spaces for social aggregation, promoting underground and independent music production.

Author Biographies

Roberto Sciarelli, Universidade de Coimbra

Roberto Sciarelli is a PhD student in the program “Democracy in the 21st Century” at the Centre for Social Studies (University of Coimbra). He graduated in international relations and European studies at the University of Florence, with a thesis on environmental human rights. He worked in the CDCA – Documentation Centre on Environmental Conflicts and on the environmentalist magazine La nuova ecologia. His current research project is on the commoning movement of Naples, addressed through the lens of urban political ecology and postcolonial studies, with a methodology based on militant co-research

Sergio Sciambra, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

Sergio Sciambra is a law student at the University of Naples Federico II and a freelance music and cultural journalist for different web magazines and local radio stations. He spent one year in Spain studying at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and since 2015 he has been an activist in the common of Naples Scugnizzo Liberato and in NaDir Collective. He is the promoter of the NaDir music festival.

Giulia Follo, Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale

Giulia Follo is a student of languages and literature at the University of Naples L’Orientale, graduating in 2017 with a thesis in sociology and media. She has been singing in La Bandarotta, a Neapolitan folk music band based in Bagnoli. She has been an activist in the commons Scugnizzo Liberato and NaDir Collective project since 2017, and an activist since 2016 in the Italian feminist movement Non Una di Meno.

Salvatore Cosentino, Conservatorio di Musica Domenico Cimarosa, Avellino

Salvatore Cosentino is a sound engineer working for the music industry. He has a degree in philosophy with a dissertation on Marx and Engels’ German ideology. Later, he started studying at the Conservatory. He is also and firstly an activist, most importantly, in his own neighbourhood. He became part of the NaDir Collective and the Scugnizzo Liberato in 2017, and since 2018 he has been a coordinator of the leftist political party Potere al Popolo.


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How to Cite

Sciarelli, R., Sciambra, S., Follo, G., & Cosentino, S. (2021). Making Music from Below in a Southern Italian Metropolis: The Neapolitan Music Scene between Commons, Latin American Rhythms, Sound Systems and Self-Produced Festivals. Journal of World Popular Music, 8(1), 102–121.