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mso-bidi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"; mso-font-kerning:.5pt; mso-fareast-language:HI; mso-bidi-language:HI;} p.MsoBodyText1 {mso-style-unhide:no; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:6.0pt; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:none; mso-hyphenate:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"; mso-font-kerning:.5pt; mso-fareast-language:HI; mso-bidi-language:HI;} p.MsoNormal9 {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:none; mso-hyphenate:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS"; mso-font-kerning:.5pt; mso-fareast-language:HI; mso-bidi-language:HI;} span.GramE1 {mso-style-name:""; mso-gram-e:yes;} span.SpellE2 {mso-style-name:""; mso-spl-e:yes;} --> </style> <title>Triin Vallaste: Annotated Bibliography

Esther Kurtz

Brown University

December 2012

 

Search Capoeira: Online Practices of Capoeira Learners

 

            Capoeira is a fight-dance-game, a music and movement form practiced in Brazil for hundreds of years up to today. Since the 1930's, capoeira has been institutionalized and is now commonly taught in dance studios or athletic facilities across the world. As with many other knowledge systems, the internet now hosts extensive resources for capoeira students, including thousands of videos of capoeira games on YouTube. With this paper I ask how capoeira learners consume and interact with these media, and how these interactions contribute to or change how learners experience their practice. I have conducted interviews with members of my own capoeira group about their online habits and I have watched dozens of YouTube videos. This searching reveals that students access the internet to seek knowledge inaccessible to them offline in order to supplement their learning. Specific aspects of capoeira, such as body-to-body transfer of knowledge, are less likely to be transmitted virtually, while students report kinesthetic reactions to videos, and the ability to experience aesthetics and energy. This study examines these limitations as well as the opportunities made possible by online technologies.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Assunção, Matthias Röhrig. 2004. Capoeira a history of the Afro-Brazilian martial art. New York: Routledge.

This is a thorough and concise history of capoeira, which also includes balanced and detailed discussions of both capoeira Angola and Regional. This distinction is also relevant when observing how members of these communities use the internet.

 

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu's definition of habitus is particularly applicable and relevant in discussions of how capoeira is learned and taught.

 

Burgess, Jean, Joshua Green, Henry Jenkins, and John Hartley. 2009. YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge, England; Malden, MA: Polity.

Burgess's and Green's book examines YouTube as a "site of participatory culture" and how the site and its technology are put to use. The authors claim that YouTube is not so much a revolution as a medium that is transitioning from and sometimes challenging established practices, while still coexisting with them. Not all users, or participants, produce content; but they do all co-create the culture of the YouTube community, despite YouTube being a commercial enterprise. Indeed, YouTube is an "example of the broader trend toward uneasy convergences of market and non-market modes of cultural production." This results in "cultural, civic and social value" which was not intended by YouTube's creators. It is also unclear to what extent YouTube Inc. wants to engage with its users and their innovative ways of using the site. What is clear is that these users are co-creating a participatory culture whose future is uncertain, largely due to the scale and diversity of its participants.

 

Downey, Greg. 2005. Learning capoeira : lessons in cunning from an Afro-Brazilian art. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Downey recognizes that the vast majority of capoeira practitioners are, and indeed many masters also claim to be, actively learning capoeira, and this process is often of central importance to them. He chooses a "phenomenological approach to ethnography" to focus on how practitioners' experience is "shaped by physical training." Through detailed analysis he shows how over the course of years spent training capoeira, players learn not only physical skills, but a fully embodied "way" of being—of walking, thinking, perceiving, philosophizing, and experiencing the world. This is achieved not only through movement, but through singing capoeira songs and learning how to hear the berimbau.  Downey also addresses issues of politics and race relations that run through capoeira discourse. However, he eschews interpretations of movements as symbolic, keeping the tactile experience central to his analysis.

 

Garcia, Luis-Manuel. 2011. "Thickening Something: Music, Affect, and the Sense of the Social." In'Can You Feel It, Too?': Intimacy and Affect at the Electronic Dance Music Events in Paris, Chicago, and Berlin. PhD diss., The University of Chicago.

Garcia describes how communal experiencing of music contributes to forming a sense of a "burgeoning community." A similar situation may occur in the capoeira roda, that of being connected through energy and music.

 

Hahn, Tomie. 2007. Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture Through Japanese Dance. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Taking Japanese dance (nihon buyo) as a case study, Hahn draws upon various disciplines (including ethnomusicology, dance studies, anthropology, and performance studies) in order to explore the embodiment of cultural knowledge. She emphasizes a holistic and experiential approach, analyzing how dance is passed from body to body and "theory unravels in moments of experience." Illustrating this point, her text is often reflexive, yet balances thick description with theory. The fourth chapter addresses multiple fields of transmission of knowledge of a dance: visual, tactile, oral/aural and mediated (especially through video.) Finally, she also examines transformations as a result of learning and practicing a dance form. There are shifts of subjectivity from which one cannot return, and also shifting identities. This book provides a wealth of frameworks for the ethnographic study of any movement form.

 

Lange, Patricia G. 2007. "Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(1):361-80.

Lange shows how YouTube participants negotiate varying definitions of privacy through social networks in the public forum. She frames her study theoretically by discussing "media circuits" and the "public/private dichotomy." Media circuits are interactions of media exchange which can be used to maintain and create social networks. The public/private dichotomy can be seen as either hidden versus open, or individual versus collective. As the boundaries tend to shift, however, the dichotomy can also be viewed as a "fractalization," meaning it follows similar patterns when examined in smaller or larger contexts. From ethnographic research focusing mostly on young YouTube users, Lange found how users support and develop social networks by controlling their levels of privacy. She coins the term "publicly private" to express behavior in which users share private information publicly, revealing identities, yet restricting access in a variety of ways: limiting tags or publishing content that is not widely understood. "Privately public" refers to people with significant contact (measured in views, comments, and numbers of subscribers) yet who reveal little about their identities. Thus she shows how YouTube users successfully navigate the available technology in order to "protect varied levels of privacy amid increasing public scrutiny."

 

Lysloff, René T. A, and Leslie C Gay. 2003. "Musical Life in Softcity: An Internet Ethnography." In Music and Technoculture, 23-63. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.

Lysloff argues that all communities, real or virtual, are "based less on material and embodied proximity... than on a collective sense of identity." This view of community applies both to the online communities of capoeira learners, where boundaries are felt differently than offline, as well as to the larger, international capoeira communities.

 

Miller, Kiri. 2012. Playing along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

This book's emphasis on the transmission of bodily knowledge through digital media is directly related to my research of how various internet sites devoted to capoeira are accessed by practitioners in order to further their knowledge of the art form.

 

Rego, Waldeloir. 1968. Capoeira Angola: Ensaio Sócio-Etnográfico. Salvador, Brazil: Editôria Itapuã.

This is the most comprehensive resource on capoeira Angola, cataloguing songs, masters and practitioners, and capoeira's evolution in the first half of the twentieth century.

 

Samudra, Jaida Kim. 2008. "Memory in Our Body: Thick Participation and the Translation of Kinesthetic Experience." American Ethnologist 35(4):665-681.

Samudra emphasizes the importance the "thick participation" when performing ethnography of movement, in this case the Chinese Indonesian martial art silat. She outlines three ways to write about these participatory experiences. The first, "encoding kinesthetic details," demands one pay attention to and record bodily knowledge in minute detail. The second, "describing new sensations," is important because we may limit ourselves to thinking only in terms of the five senses. We must remain open to new sensations and new ways of perceiving them, also being careful not to privilege sight and merely "read the body as text." The third way to translate experience into ethnography is through "somatic narratives," focusing on a "grosser level of experience" than the other two tactics. It is not necessary to capture an experience that is objectively universal. All experience is subjective to some extent, but using these tactics it is nonetheless possible to "investigate coherence across multiple bodies inhabiting the same kinesthetic system." Samudra also suggests that other tactics could contribute to this end, including focusing observations upon emotional response.

 

Schloss, Joseph Glenn. 2004. "Chapter 1: Introduction." In Making beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop, 1–24. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.

There are several overlaps of Schloss's approach and mine: He favors an epistemological approach, examining how knowledge is acquired or learned. He also emphasizes the "journeymen," as opposed to the most successful or famous artists, thus exploring a more common rather than exceptional experience. Also relevant to capoeira are Schloss's discussions of ethics and unwritten rules in hip-hop culture.

 

Shusterman, Richard. 1999. "Somaesthetics: A Disciplinary Proposal." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57(3):299-313.

This article provides an introduction to somaesthetics, exploring the body's role in aesthetic experience; "the critical... study of the experience and use of one's body as a locus of sensory-aesthetic appreciation." This approach is particularly useful when researching how movement is learned.

 

Théberge, Paul. 1997. "Chapter 7: Music/Technology/Practice: Musical Knowledge in Action." In Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making Music/Consuming Technology, 157–185. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.

Théberge outlines several theoretical approaches to acquiring, embodying and practicing musical knowledge. Suggesting that knowledge and practice may be integrated as a whole, rather than split along the body/mind divide, he applies Merriam's model of music making as an integrated process, and also interprets Bordieu's practice theory and his concept of habitus. He also emphasizes that the social aspect of learning means that issues of race, class, and gender cannot be ignored.

 

Waksman, Steve. 2003. "Reading the Instrument: An Introduction." Popular Music and Society 26(3): 251–261.

The approaches to examining instruments outlined in this introduction could also be applied to closer examination of the berimbau. The berimbau in capoeira carries significant historical and cultural weight.

 

 

Websites:

http://mandingueira.com/

Mandingueira is a feminist capoeira blog chronicling one (female Asian-Canadian) practitioner's progress in capoeira over a two-year period (2007 to 2009). Her articles often generated much response and sometimes heated discussion.

 

https://www.facebook.com/lowcountry.angola

LowCountry Capoeira Angola's Facebook page is an example of a capoeira practitioner performing his identity as a capoeirista. His page is a source not only of exceptional capoeira resources on the internet, but other videos and commentary that may seem only tangentially related to capoeira, yet are in line with a broader philosophy. I will also approach him to be interviewed for this paper.

 

http://www.marromealunos.com/vadiando-entre-amigos/

This is an example of a website of a thriving capoeira group in Rio de Janeiro. I have watched their site evolve over the years to reflect the expansion and professionalization of the group.

 

http://www.rodamagazine.com/

This site of an online capoeira "magazine" features articles and videos related to capoeira and "the world beyond."

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxxr2zjospU&feature=related

YouTube is perhaps the most valuable online source of information about capoeira in the form of videos of games. This video is relatively popular (with 63,000+ views) and generated some commentary as well, which is not always the case with capoeira videos.