Paper long abstract:
Drawing on fieldwork research in Salvador da Bahia, the paper discusses the implication of tourism, transnationalism and state's policies in the everyday life of afrobrazilian capoeira teachers. Once a marginal and illegal activity, today capoeira is perceived as a valuable cultural product to be exported, symbol of the city of Salvador and since 2008, Brazilian immaterial heritage.
The paper explores the conflicts that arise as capoeira practitioners struggle to assert control over their social practices, negotiate the cultural and social meanings attributed to capoeira, and strategically appropriate it as a means of empowerment. Who has the legitimate right to define whether the performative art is Brazilian, afrobrazilian, or has no race or ethnicity? Is it the state, the local or international community that will decide who can or cannot be a capoeira teacher? Is it a local symbol, a national one or the basis on which transnational capoeira communities are structured?
Selling tradition by the pound: intangibile cultural heritage and the marketing of localities