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Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology 
University of Warsaw

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Problems with hierarchy and problems with tradition: The critique of male power in Afro-Brazilian capoeira

Sergio Gonzales Varela
Volume 28, Issue 2
Year of publication: 
Book/ journal title: 
The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Original Language: 

This article examines the critique of male power in Afro-Brazilian capoeira. Capoeira is a practice that combines elements of music, dance, fight, and art. In the last twenty years, it has experienced unprecedented global expansion. Therefore, people in Brazil and abroad have begun questioning the hierarchies of power and knowledge that traditionally have structured groups around the figure of a mestre (a male leader). The article comparatively explores the tensions between the meaning of “tradition” and recent cultural innovations in capoeira groups. It focuses on women's importance in reconfiguring capoeira in the last ten years in Brazil and how they challenge a male-centered perspective of this art through a resignification of history and cultural practice.