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Reading: Virtually Legitimate: Using Disembodied Media to Position Oneself in an Embodied Community

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Virtually Legitimate: Using Disembodied Media to Position Oneself in an Embodied Community

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Lauren Miller Griffith

Texas Tech UniversityNone
About Lauren

Assistant Professor of Anthropology 

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Abstract

Previous research on capoeira suggests that face-to-face training is the ideal mode of learning this art. However, there is a robust corpus of capoeira tutorials available on YouTube. This paper asks what the function of these videos is. I analyze six comment threads taken from YouTube that exhibit a common pattern, concluding that beyond the video’s utility as a source of information, the comments shared by community insiders serve as an invitation for aspiring students to join the embodied capoeira community, paving the way for their adoption of the underlying ethos of capoeira by socializing them into the ‘anyone can do it if they work hard enough’ discourse that is common in capoeira academies. And while this discourse itself is somewhat deceptive insofar as not everyone can do all of the moves of capoeira – even if they work hard – it is actually the mediating link between technical mastery, which could theoretically be achieved from watching videos, and embodiment of capoeira’s generative grammar, which must be learned in an embodied community setting. 

How to Cite: Griffith, L.M., (2017). Virtually Legitimate: Using Disembodied Media to Position Oneself in an Embodied Community. Martial Arts Studies. (4), pp.36–45. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2017.10185
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Published on 10 Jul 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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