Members of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Cardao de Ouro Capoeira Academy demonstrate the art of capoeira.

Capoeira Demonstrates “Art and Resistance” for International Studies Colloquium

January 30, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University will host an international studies colloquium at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12 in the Beckman Auditorium of The Ames Library (1 Ames Plaza East, Bloomington).  The colloquium, which contributes to the “Art and Resistance” theme adopted by Illinois Wesleyan University’s International Studies Program this year, will feature a discussion and display of the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira.  Sponsored by the Development Studies Team, this event is free and open to the public.

Antonio Luciano A. Tosta, Ph.D., and Contra-Mestre Denis Chiaramonte will deliver a lecture titled “Capoeira in a Transnational Context: From Resistance Tool to National Symbol.”  Tosta is an assistant professor of Brazilian literature and culture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and the Contra-Mestre is the director of Cordo de Ouro, the UIUC Capoeira Club.  Following their lecture, there will be a 15-minute Q-and-A session, after which the and Cordo de Ouro Illinois Wesleyan capoeira clubs will give a joint demonstration.

Capoeira originated as a combination of African dances, martial arts and other traditions performed by African slaves in Brazil in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.  For these slaves, capoeira was an artistic expression as well as a variation of martial arts, used to defend themselves when running away from their masters.  Throughout Brazil’s history, the art form has been challenged and treated as a crime.

Since the 1980s, capoeira has become a popular practice worldwide.  While this expansion has brought more awareness to the art, some scholars believe it has also threatened the traditional purpose of capoeira as a resistance symbol.  Tosta and the Contra-Mestre will consider this aspect of its history in their presentation.

For additional information on the colloquium, contact Associate Professor of Anthropology Rebecca Gearhart at  To learn more about Cordo de Ouro, visit the Web site at

Contact: Nicole Travis ’11, (309) 556-3181