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Guest Posts, Martial Studies

Capoeira and Silat: A Comparative Study of Fight Dancing in Brazil and Indonesia by Paul B. Mason

Capoeira. Photo by Turismo Bahia. Source: Wikimedia.

Capoeira. Photo by Turismo Bahia. Source: Wikimedia.

 

 

Introduction

 
Greetings from the road!  I am currently undertaking some last minute preparations and then heading over to Cardiff University for the 2016 Martial Arts Studies Conference.  I am looking forward to getting together with old friends, making new ones and hearing some great papers.  I am also scheduled to deliver a keynote address on Wednesday morning,  which will be posted here sometime in the next couple of weeks.  In the mean time I am going to be pretty busy and will only have occasional internet access.  As such I will be sharing a number of articles by various authors in my absence.  If all goes well, Kung Fu Tea will return to its normal posting schedule during the last week of July, starting with a full conference report.

Our first “guest paper” is provided by Paul H. Mason.  He recently published an article in Martial Arts Studies titled “Fight-Dancing and the Festival: Tabuik in Pariaman, Indonesia and Iemanja in Salvado Da Bahia, Brazil” that is well worth careful reading and consideration.  This study, which looks at the public performance of martial arts at seaside festivals in Indonesia and Brazil, is one of the best examples of the comparative case study method which I have seen in our field.  Drawing on years of ethnographic field work, Mason manages to paint a lively picture of events in two countries while illustrating the theoretical power of his approach.  Graduate students take note.  I can still remember how excited I was when we first received a draft of at this article at Martial Arts Studies.  A wide range of readers will find something of interest in these pages.

 

Click here to read the article!

 

Abstract



Festivals bring people together in affirmations of community. This article looks at two festivals in coastal locations in Indonesia and Brazil with a close inspection of performances of fight-dancing included within both festivals. The improvisatory or choreographed organization of the fight-dancing performances echoes the manner in which the festivals themselves are assembled. As these festivals grow in popularity, the process of inventing tradition is heterogeneously co-constituted by those parties who actively invest in the symbolic capital of the events. Verbal and non-verbal forms of expression reinforce each other in the construction of a multivalent sense of regional traditions. The corporeal engagement of organisers and participants blurs the boundary between embodied remembering and narrative accounts. Based on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores the interweaving of fight-dancing with the history, growth, and post-colonial expression of regional festivals.

 

About the Author

 

 

Paul H. Mason completed his PhD in cultural anthropology at Macquarie University (2012) under the supervision of Professors Greg Downey and John Sutton. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork with arts communities in Indonesia and Brazil, religious minorities in India and Brazil, and tuberculosis patients in Australia and Vietnam. With support from Macquarie International, the National Department of Education in Indonesia, and the Australia Netherlands Research Collaboration, he has also conducted archival research in Australia, Brazil, Holland, and Indonesia. His research on martial arts has been published in Global Ethnographic, Cultures-Kairós, and Inside Indonesia, and he recently coedited The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and its Music with Dr Uwe Paetzold (Robert Schumann University of Music, Düsseldorf), published as part of Brill’s Southeast Asian Library Series.

 

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