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Sambando New Orleans: Dancing Race, Gender, and Place with Casa Samba


Assuming that embodiment is a cultural marker in identity politics and that dance is an especially highly charged identity marker for Brazilian culture, this article explores the racial and gender politics of Casa Samba, an African American–directed samba school in New Orleans that aims to perform “authentic” Brazilian culture. The analysis of this cultural performance space is both ethnographic and autobiographical, since the researcher herself has been a dancer with the troupe for more than five years. An ethnographic and embodied analysis of Casa Samba reveals that the group’s definition of Brazilian authenticity is contingent on global understandings of Brazilian culture and the local cultural performance space of New Orleans.

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