Thursday, 11 January 2018

Evading Biopolitical Control: Capoeira as Total Resistance


My article Evading Biopolitical Control: Capoeira as Total Resistance was recently published by Global Society. Here is an abstract and a link to the full article

The analysis of ‘total war’ as systemic, ubiquitous and unrelenting has increased the analytical and political urgency of understanding resistance. Drawing on Foucault’s elaboration of biopolitics and ‘making strange,’ this article theorises ‘total resistance’ through a study of the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira. It explores how capoeira adepts in the early 20th century resisted the 'total war' of state repression of capoeira and the heritage that it embodied.

This article argues that, by engaging with, and protecting themselves against, the state, capoeira practitioners demonstrated resilience through adaptation and diversification. The corporeality of capoeira provided a holistic response to the biopolitical power of the state, and capoeira players 'made strange' (in Foucauldian terms) the normalcy of power, rescuing themselves and their way of life. In answer to the ‘total war’ which makes patterns of violence apparently inevitable, the ‘total resistance’ of capoeira evaded obliteration, and maintained the possibility of other outcomes.

Mestra Gege e Saputi playing at the Praca da Dinha, Salvador in 2014

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  6. So when they hold capoeira events or gatherings like this one https://www.instagram.com/p/Bhm6sZYnRSd/ is that them remembering their roots or is there still an ongoing fight against the state, so to speak?

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  7. Thanks for your comments. Capoeira means different things to different people and at different times. Remembering history can be part of resistance to the state, in reminding those in power of the violence that has established current configurations. For other people, capoeira is more about relaxation and enjoyment, and that is also legitimate; capoeira has always been about community and creativity.

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