Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art-game-dance-way of life, was developed in slave and ex-slave communities. It makes reference to experiences of Africa, oppression and liberation, and records – in its movement, rhythms and songs – the history of capoeira itself.
This project recognises capoeira as a counterhegemonic discourse: knowledge embodied in its creative and expressive art is conceptually independent of dominant textual historical discourse. Capoeira originated in the oppressed margins of society and is now a cultural export. Capoeira adepts have protected their interests and extended their political influence: security has been distributed through capoeira. Investigating how this happened brings into focus the interaction of security with power and freedom – two aspects that are routinely overlooked in security studies. The historical development of capoeira and its contemporary performance provide an analytical critique for the study of security.
I am not presenting a metaphorical message (‘life is like capoeira’ – although I think that in many respects this does hold!) and neither is it literal (‘everyone should play capoeira’ – although I have sympathy with this position too!). The point of the research is to identify the mechanisms by which security has been distributed through capoeira and to analyse what implications can be drawn for security theory and policy.