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In Search of Legitimacy: How Outsiders Become Part of the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Tradition

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Volume 7

Dance and Performance Studies

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In Search of Legitimacy

How Outsiders Become Part of the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Tradition

Lauren Miller Griffith

248 pages, 1 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-063-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (January 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-064-3 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…an important study of the confluence of travel and pilgrimage, race/class/gender issues, embodiment and physical (and emotional) expertise, and the defense of tradition and of ‘lineage’-specific knowledge and identity in the context of globalization and an openness to (tradition-defined) innovation.” · Anthropology Review Database

“Lauren Miller Griffith became a cultural pilgrim and put her own body on the line to produce this distinctive, valuable, and very readable contribution to the anthropological research on capoeira. She provides important insights into broad phenomena like cultural pilgrimage, culture tourism, and globalization.” · Greg Downey, Macquarie University


Every year, countless young adults from affluent, Western nations travel to Brazil to train in capoeira, the dance/martial art form that is one of the most visible strands of the Afro-Brazilian cultural tradition. In Search of Legitimacy explores why “first world” men and women leave behind their jobs, families, and friends to pursue a strenuous training regimen in a historically disparaged and marginalized practice. Using the concept of apprenticeship pilgrimage—studying with a local master at a historical point of origin—the author examines how non-Brazilian capoeiristas learn their art and claim legitimacy while navigating the complexities of wealth disparity, racial discrimination, and cultural appropriation.

Lauren Miller Griffith is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Hanover College. She studies performance, tourism, and education in Latin America. Her work has appeared in Annals of Tourism Research, the Journal of Sport and Tourism, and Theatre Annual.

Subject: Performance Studies Anthropology (General)
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean


Table of Contents
List of Figures


Chapter 1. A Brief History of Capoeira
Chapter 2. The Challenges of Teaching and Learning Capoeira Abroad
Chapter 3.  Travel as a Way to Overcome Doubts
Chapter 4.  Preparing for the Pilgrimage
Chapter 5.  A World in which the Black Brazilian Man Is King
Chapter 6.  How the Rest of Us Get Our Foot in the Door
Chapter 7. Does Form Really Matter?
Chapter 8.  Will I Ever Be Good Enough?
Chapter 9. Conclusion and Future Directions


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