Sara Delamont, Neil Stephens

«Capoeira is everything to me». British student commitment to the African-Brazilian martial art

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Capoeira; Brazil; Identity; Commitment; Skills; Diaspora.

The title is a declaration made by a Romanian-British man who has been learning capoeira in the UK for 10 years. Capoeira is an African-Brazilian dance-fight-game, which has spread across the world since the early 1970s. We call this capoeira diasporic. Many non-Brazilians have learnt it and there are serious students who have devoted a great deal of time and money to acquire its habitus. Dedicated capoeira students not only learn Brazilian embodiment and acquire a range of explicit and tacit physical and mental skills, but also learn to play five instruments and to sing in Brazilian Portuguese. Drawing on a two-handed ethnographic study beginning in 2003, as well as a series of interviews, the paper explores the attraction of diasporic capoeira for those non-Brazilians who learn it in Great Britain. The paper examines the attraction of the explicit and tacit skills, of the embodiment, of the music and of the folkloric manifestations of African origin that accompany capoeira, focusing on women and men.

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