Intracultural and intercultural dynamics of Capoeira training in Brazil

Paul H. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the port-cities of Brazil during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a distinct form of combat-dancing emerged from the interaction of African, European and indigenous peoples. The acrobatic movements and characteristic music of this art have come to be called Capoeira. Today, the art of Capoeira has grown in popularity and groups of practitioners can be found scattered across the globe. Exploring how Capoeira practitioners invent markers of difference between separate groups, the first section of this article discusses musical markers of identity that reinforce in-group and out-group dynamics. At a separate but interconnected level of analysis, the second section investigates the global origins of Capoeira movement and disambiguates the commonly recounted origin myths promoted by teachers and scholars of this art. Practitioners frequently relate stories promoting the African origins of Capoeira. However, these stories obfuscate the global origins of Capoeira music and movement and conceal the various contributions to this vibrant and eclectic form of cultural expression. This article unpacks myth-making at two levels of analysis: (1) invented realities promoted by teachers in the horizontal transmission of Capoeira, and (2) the constructed teleologies about the vertical transmission of the art. Unpacking acts of myth-making at two levels of analysis reveals the interplay of discourse and repertoires of bodily expression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal ethnographic
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Capoeira
  • Brazil
  • Origin
  • Diversity
  • Globalisation


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