National Centre for Research Methods



Diasporic Capoeira: An Ethnographic Enquiry
Dr Sara Delamont & Dr Neil Stephens

Capoeira is the Brazilian martial art which spread out from Brazil after 1975: hence the title diasporic capoeira. Capoeira has been taught in London since 1985. It is done to music, and can be slow and very graceful (angola) or fast and furious (regional). Players have nicknames, given by their master, dating back to the era when capoeira was illegal in Brazil, and everyone was safer if real names were not known.

In Cardiff there have been regular classes since spring 2003, by teachers from the Beribazu Group (Blue Berimbau). The berimbau is the most important instrument used. A SOCSI staff member, Dr Neil Stephens, who is based in Cesagen, has been learning since 2002, is President of the Cardiff Capoeira Club, and recently got his third belt (the corda marron, or brown cord).

Dr Sara Delamont and Dr Neil Stephens have been doing an ethnography of the teaching and learning of diasporic capoeira in the UK since Autumn 2003. This is a two handed ethnography of an embodied activity where one researcher (Neil Stephens) is doing the bodily activity and the other (Sara Delamont) is a participant observer. Observations mostly take place in the UK, but have also included an all-woman festival in Utrecht in 2005, and the New Zealand group, Capoeira Pasifika, in New Zealand at Easter 2005.

Neil and Sara are collaborating on some papers about capoeira, in which we use pseudonymous capoeira nicknames, Trovao (Thunder) and Bruxa (Witch), to refer to ourselves.

Publications (click on journal title to visit website)

Delamont, S (2005) No place for women among them? Sport, Education and Society Vol 10 No 3

Delamont, S (2005) Where the boys are? Waikato Journal of Education Vol 11 No 1

Delamont, S & Stephens, N (2006) Balancing the berimbau Qualitative Inquiry, Vol 12, No 2

Delamont, S (2006) The smell of sweat and rum. Ethnography and Education, Vol 1, No 1


Delamont, S & Stephens, N 'Samba no mar'. Symbolic Interactionism and the Body (edited by Vaninni and Waskul)




ESRC National Centre for Research Methods
ESRC - Economic & Social Research Council