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2015 Aiton Lecture: "The Angolan Roots of Capoeira"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
12:00 AM
1014 Tisch Hall

This year's Aiton Lecture explores the transatlantic links between capoeira and musical bows, dances and combat games in Southern Angola. Professor Assunção's research explores several traditions in south-western Angola, a region often identified as providing the 'roots' of capoeira because of the existence of instruments and movements similar to capoeira. There are several combat games which use alternatively kicks, hands, sticks and other weapons, techniques that are also present in historical capoeira styles. His project explores the music and lyrics that accompany these performances, and related dances and rituals practiced in some villages belonging to different ethnic groups of the Nyaneka family in that region.

The project aims to assess the extent of continuities, and borrowing, but also of ruptures, changes and re-inventions in order to understand the 'creolization' process through which some specific African traditions merged and developed into something new, original and global. Moreover, the project has employed fieldwork methods which involve people in a transcultural dialogue. For instance, performers in Angola have reacted in uniquely illuminating ways when faced with instruments, movements and music that are linked to their own traditions.