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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Considering culture in development : the art of Capoeira as a vehicle for community mobilization, empowerment and non-formal education in Recife, Brazil Freire, Claudia


Literature on Recife suggests that the various NGO's, CBO's and grassroots organizations of Recife constitute one of the strongest popular movements of any city of Brazil. Thus, the challenge to planners is to facilitate and encourage such groups in fostering citizen participation so that individuals of all classes, races and gender can have a voice and gain more control in decisions that affect their livelihood and their futures. Current literature defines 'empowerment' as a continuous process that enables people to better understand, upgrade and use their capacity to better control and gain power over their own lives. At the centre of empowerment are social learning and community mobilization, processes that can provide alternatives to the top-down practice of technocratic planning. Social learning and community mobilization focus on dialogue as a means to individual and group empowerment. Paulo Freire explores the importance of dialogue to education in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for Critical Consciousness. He proposes that education is a mutual process and that no one person has the answer, rather each person has knowledge based on his/her own experience and reflection. This thesis explores the role of popular arts in such processes, using as an example the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira. The research, set in the context of Recife, attempts to illustrate the role capoeira plays as a vehicle for empowerment, social learning, community mobilization and non-formal education. It also intends to demonstrate the importance of culture and local knowledge to development and planning processes. The purpose of the research has been: • To explore links between the above mentioned processes and the art of capoeira. • To introduce a general study of two organizations in Recife which have applied the art of capoeira for the purpose of social betterment. • To present an in-depth study of the organization ASSOCAPE (Association of Capoeiras of Pernambuco) and the role it has taken in organizing the capoeira community in Recife. • To link the role of popular arts to planning practice.

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