Graceful Resistance: How Capoeiristas Use Their Art for Activism and Community Engagement
by Lauren Miller Griffith
University of Illinois Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-0-252-04506-6 | Paper: 978-0-252-08719-6 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05438-9

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REVIEWS | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK

Capoeira began as a martial art developed by enslaved Afro-Brazilians. Today, the practice incorporates song, dance, acrobatics, and theatrical improvisation—and leads many participants into activism.


Lauren Miller Griffith’s extensive participant observation with multiple capoeira groups informs her ethnography of capoeiristas--both individuals and groups--in the United States. Griffith follows practitioners beyond their physical training into social justice activities that illuminate capoeira’s strong connection to resistance and subversion. As both individuals and communities of capoeiristas, participants march against racial discrimination, celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth, organize professional clothing drives for job seekers, and pursue economic and environmental justice in their neighborhoods. For these people, capoeira becomes a type of serious leisure that contributes to personal growth, a sense of belonging, and an overall sense of self, while also imposing duties and obligations.


An innovative look at capoeira in America, Graceful Resistance reveals how the practicing of an art can catalyze action and transform communities.

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