Capoeira “Cool": Working with Contradictions to Build Coalitions for Change
In this presentation, I explore the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira as a site for anti-racist coalition building and illustrate the potential of non-dominant sites and practices for fostering alliances across multiple lines of difference. I argue that, while most scholars who theorize coalitions do so within the parameters of the academy, such coalitions need to be relocated into the "everyday," where Philomena Essed asserts that racist practices take form, are articulated, and shape ideology; such relocation provides a more viable solution to racist ideologies and practices while reaching greater populations of people. First, I will provide a brief overview of the major theories regarding capoeira’s historical origins, as these provide important insight into its modern practice. Here I will focus on the translocation of capoeira into global contexts and examine the implications and potential of the art form in such locations. Second, I will explore the transformative potential of capoeira and the ways in which its practice works to challenge hegemony as practitioners “perform difference”; third, I will discuss the capoeira academy as a non-dominant site where communities are imagined and established across lines of difference; and finally, I will theorize the political potential of capoeira, focusing on the establishment of anti-racist coalitions that are engaged in community activism.
Keywords: Coalitions, Coalition Building Across Lines of Difference, Racist Ideology, Capoeira, Non-Dominant Sites and Practices
Graduate Assistant in Teaching, Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English, The University of Arizona