Capoeira in Australia: Gingando In-between Identities in a Multicultural Society

By Cristina Wulfhorst.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Capoeira, the worldwide known Brazilian (martial) art, is considered to be a global and expanding cultural practice. In the last thirty years, the number of capoeira schools has been progressively increasing in Brazil and overseas (Annunciato, 2006). This is noticed also in Australia, which witnessed a fast growing of capoeira schools in the last ten years. Sydney is the main node in Australiasia to diffuse capoeira within Australia and to Asian countries. Within this framework of capoeira globalisation, I demonstrate that capoeira has become a meaningful transnational practice in Australia. I argue that this form of intercultural encounter has both discursive and material effects, and often has the body as its signifier. Yet such encounter involves a dialectic movement between the crystallisation of old forms of identification and the process of creating new forms of identification. On the one hand, capoeira forges the encounter between Australians and Brazilians, forming a community that extends beyond notions of ethnicity or diaspora. On the other hand, capoeira is used as a way to “essentialise” Brazilian identity and Brazilianess, assessing an “ethnic” and “exotic” position within the “celebration” of a multicultural Australia (Hage, 2000, Ang, 2001). It is in this dialectic between strategic hybridisation (Noble, 1999) and strategic essentialism (Spivak, 1998) that Australian capoeiristas engage in a significant intercultural relation, and create new forms of belonging through embodiment, and as such contest notions of official multiculturalism.

Keywords: Diaspora, Brazilian Migration, Capoeira, Multiculturalism, Transnationalism, Embodiment, Habitus

Global Studies Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.107-118. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 754.013KB).

Cristina Wulfhorst

PhD Candidate, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Cristina Wulfhorst is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Cultural Research at UWS. Her current research is on hybridization processes in intimate multiculturalism, particularly the relations between Brazilians and Australians in Sydney. She has a Bachelor degree in Psychology from the UNISINOS (Brazil) and a specialization in Intercultural Communication and Cooperation from the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

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