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Bitches Unleashed

Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk


Raquel Moreira

This book challenges white and Western feminist approaches to embodied politics, or the use of the body in everyday enactments of resistance, while mapping transgressive performances of femininities by the funkeiras, marginalized women and transfeminine people of color artists in Brazilian favela funk. Often studied from a white feminist perspective, embodied politics reflects debates about agency and structural change that are generally applicable to white women in the West. Concurrently, studies of femininity tend to universalize experiences of gender oppression encountered by white women to women across the globe. In this work, the author offers a transnational perspective on the performative force of embodied politics as a possible means to disrupt white, classist heteropatriarchal structures that oppress particularly poor women and transfeminine people of color in Brazil. This project has a threefold goal: first, it challenges the theoretical shortcomings of white feminist approaches to embodied politics, providing instead a transfeminista take on the concept. Secondly, this project aims to shed light on how traditional methodological approaches have hindered nuanced understandings of women and people of color and their performances. Third and finally, by challenging and re-envisioning the potential of embodied politics from a transnational perspective, the text intends to contribute to the field of critical intercultural communication’s growing but still limited research around bodies and performance, especially of those who are marginalized in global contexts.
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I have been meaning to write this book for at least the past five years. Countless people have helped me find the courage and time to finally do it. The process of finding courage and time to do it has been influenced by countless people. I am grateful for their support during this demanding and all-consuming process.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my partner, Isaac Pressnell, who has been my emotional pillar during this taxing time. Thank you, my love, for caring for our daughter, Isadora, our dog, Gatolinos, our house, and my emotional needs—all while dealing with a global pandemic, a chronic illness diagnosis, and the death of my father. Thank you, Isaac, for giving me space to write this book during an impossible time in our lives. We both know I would still be procrastinating if not for your constant reminders that this was actually the right time to do it.

I want to thank Bernadette Marie Calafell for her intellectual generosity and mentorship. It has been an honor to learn from and with her. I remember the first time she told me to submit a book proposal. It was in Las Vegas, during the 2015 NCA, as we walked into an elevator. It only took me four years to follow through. Thank you, Bernadette, for ←xi | xii→encouraging me to write this book. Her request for a proposal made me feel accountable to finishing this work.


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