Americans Performing Afro-Brazilian Maracatu and Afoxé

How to Cite

LaFevers, C. (2021). Americans Performing Afro-Brazilian Maracatu and Afoxé: Navigating Race, Religion, Appropriation, and the Potential of Anti-Racist Pedagogy. PARtake: The Journal of Performance As Research, 3(2), 10–31.


Austin, Texas is home to one of the largest Brazilian music scenes in North America. Significantly, the vast majority of participants are white Americans and the genres performed are almost entirely Afro-Brazilian. This setting presents a unique opportunity for Performance-as-Research into the embodied performance of transnational racial formations. This article examines teaching, learning, and performing maracatu-nação and afoxé, musics explicitly linked to Afro-matrix religions.  I ask what Austinites typically learn about Brazilian society and the religious significance of the music they perform, highlighting the disjuncture that exists between the commonly held view of Brazilian genres as fun and sexy dance music, and the social justice concerns—racism, cultural appropriation, and religious intolerance to name a few—at the core of maracatu and afoxé. I trace how performers navigate their own concerns about religious expression and respectful engagement, including debates around the cultural appropriation of maracatu-nação in Brazil. I argue that experiences gained in performance are essential components in implementing anti-racist pedagogies that advance efforts to optimize cross-cultural understanding and sustain engagement with communities by facilitating collaborations between culture-bearers, academics, and artists.