The Logical Paradox of the Cultural Commodity: Selling an “Authentic” Afro-Brazilian Martial Art in Canada

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 University of Toronto
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The examination of an Afro-Brazilian martial art, capoeira, offers a sport-tourism nexus in which to study authenticity discourses. This article, based on an ethnography of a capoeira group in Canada, exposes teachers’ representations of “authentic capoeira” as logical paradoxes. Teachers market what they know is neither original nor pure as “authentic” to take advantage of the expectations, desires, and economic resources of their Canadian students. In turn, students negotiate and accept sometimes-contra-dictory descriptions of real capoeira, fueled by their desire for fun, fitness, and proximity to a culture that is of another time and place. I suggest that authenticity discourses are critical to notions of multiculturalism in Canada, and are necessary components of the commoditization of culture.

The author is with the University of Toronto, 55 Harbord St., Toronto, ON M5S 2W6.

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