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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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Beyond Survival: Funkeiras, Embodied Politics, and the Future of Feminism


“My intention is to create femininities that are dangerous to the system,” says Linn da Quebrada as we wrap up our interview. The Black travesti funkeira sums up nicely the kinds of femininities funkeiras create and perform—femininities that are persecuted and regulated but that, nonetheless, are in a constant state of reinvention. Over the ten years since I started to more attentively follow funkeiras, their performances have transformed and also stayed connected to the different cultural and political moments Brazil has been experiencing. Still, scholarly interest in them is yet to reflect their importance and contributions to favela funk in general. In fact, scholars need to work to undo some of the damage created by (white) feminist analyses that further pathologized favela funk and funkeiras. In this conclusion, I propose a few insights: first, contextualizing the changes funkeiras’ work has experienced over the years, with special attention to the possibilities their performances enable, both challenges and contributes to a fresh perspective on embodied politics. Second, I contemplate the impact this book has on conceptions of feminism. I end the text with a reflection about the future—of funkeiras’ work ←199 | 200→and the scholarship that is impacted by their complex existences and experiences.

Ethnography, among other types of scholarly work, generates knowledge about others that in turn connects to the discourses produced about them.1 In the case of funkeiras, the discursive production is still being constructed in academia, since there are so few works about them. In...

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