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The Hidden History of Capoeira

A Collision of Cultures in the Brazilian Battle Dance

By Maya Talmon-Chvaicer

Publication Year: 2008

A richly researched historical and cultural study of capoeira, the Brazilian martial art/dance that is spreading around the world.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Over the past decade I have seen Maya Talmon-Chvaicer’s interest in Capoeira and in the Portuguese enslavement of Africans come together in an extraordinary fashion as she came to realize that an analysis of the history and anthropology of Capoeira could provide a new entrée into Brazilian cultural development....

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pp. xi-xiv

This book, writ en over the past five years, has succeeded because of the many people who have helped me along the long road and whom I wish to thank.
First, I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to Professor Mechal Sobel, who shared with me her remarkable expertise as my Ph.D. supervisor and afterward supported, advised, and encouraged me throughout the

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pp. 1-6

Capoeira is a Brazilian battle dance, a national sport that is part of Brazilian folklore, and, in recent decades, has been taught in schools, universities, and private health clubs. Today it is popular all over the world, and increasing interest has given rise to a large number of historical, anthropological, and sociological studies examining its various aspects and manifestations. In the nineteenth century players, or participants, in capoeira were known as Capoeiras. To avoid ...

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One: A Rio de Janeiro Slave Game

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pp. 7-48

In the early nineteenth century, travelers and foreign diplomats noted in their memoirs that on arriving in Rio de Janeiro for the first time, people might think they had landed by mistake in an African town as there were more blacks than whites in the streets at all hours, day and night. This became evident in 1808, when the Portuguese court, fleeing from Napoleon’s troops, arrived in Rio....

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Two: The Battle and the Game (1840s–1870s)

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pp. 49-68

From written documents of the 1840s it is evident that Capoeiras were no longer primarily black slaves from West Central Africa. In the 1840s and 1850s Creoles (persons born in Brazil), persons of mixed race (usually a white father and a black mother), and freedmen joined the ranks of the Capoeiras.1 This brought about significant changes, not only in the status of Capoeiras, but also in their behavior and attitudes toward the rest of society....

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Three: Patrons and Oppressors (1870s–1930s)

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pp. 69-110

In the 1870s there was a noticeable expansion of capoeira activities and an improvement in their social status, conducive to a change of attitude toward them. After the Paraguayan War the Capoeiras became increasingly involved in politics. Indeed, the war brought about far-reaching changes that would lead to the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. The war began in 1865 and lasted for five years, during which time many people were killed or...

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Four: New Center, New Style: Capoeira Regional and Capoeira Angola in Twentieth-Century Bahia

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pp. 111-150

Capoeira was outlawed in 1890, one year after the fall of the monarchy. Since the late nineteenth century ideas of branqueamento (whitening) had been circulating in Brazil, influenced by racial “scientific” theories justifying the superiority of whites that spread across Europe and the United States. This Bela Época (Beautiful Epoch) was characterized by the wish to emulate European...

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Five: The Game of Life: Battle of Cultures

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pp. 151-174

The 1930s an d 1940s were crucial to the history of capoeira. The authorities and intellectuals persisted in trying to present capoeira as a Brazilian product that had evolved from the special circumstances prevailing in Brazil to become Brazil’s national sport and folk art. At the same time, capoeira schools founded during those years set themselves apart by their differing styles—Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional....

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pp. 175-180

In Brazil, the written sources of the nineteenth century were mainly produced by whites and obviously reflect their outlook on life. For them Africa was a backward continent, deprived of European culture. Their views were supported by theories about the inferiority of the black race, supposedly stuck in the primitive stage of human development, so that they were comparable to animals or had the intelligence and mental ability of singing and dancing children....


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pp. 181-202


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pp. 203-206


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pp. 207-222


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pp. 223-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794429
E-ISBN-10: 0292794428
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292717237
Print-ISBN-10: 0292717237

Page Count: 249
Illustrations: 47 b&w figures, 5 maps, 7 tables
Publication Year: 2008