Home Institution

Duke University

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Brazil: Public Health, Race, and Human Rights


Around the world gender and racial inequality leads to lower levels of empowerment related to self-esteem, autonomy, and self-confidence. These difficulties are exacerbated for girls and women who are faced with overcoming the double-stigmatization of being both black and female. However, Afro- Brazilian girls and women, when given the tools and support to empower themselves will empower their communities. Through a mixed-method approach of participatory research, observations, and nine interviews, this paper explores how the tradition of Capoeira Angola and specifically the roda, empowers Afro-Brazilian girls and women. More specifically, I examine how, through Capoeira, the process of “empowerment” can be taught, learned, and practiced through Capoeira as a method of overcoming double-stigmatization. The results of this study are based on a case study of the Nzinga Capoeira Angola Group in Alto da Sereia, Salvador, Brazil. The group’s pedagogy of teaching Capoeira Angola focuses on empowering all of its capoeiristas though equality, preservation of the Angola tradition, and community. By understanding their approach, other community-based organizations in Brazil can learn how, through the practice of Capoeira Angola, they can support the next generation of Afro-Brazilian women.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Women's Studies