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Bitches Unleashed

Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk

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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.

“Centering the voices and performances of funkeiras—Black and Brown favela performers—to examine embodied gender politics in Brazil, Bitches Unleashed: Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk offers fresh and insightful ways to engage with racialized performances of femininity from the perspective of the Global South. Theoretically rich and methodologically sensitive, Moreira decenters white, Western epistemological frameworks to provide an important contribution to Communication, Cultural Studies, and Gender Studies. This is a timely and significant book!”—Gust A. Yep, Professor, Communication Studies Department, Graduate Faculty, Sexuality Studies Program, Faculty, Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership, San Francisco State University

Bitches Unleashed: Performance and Embodied Politics in Favela Funk represents truly cutting-edge, outstanding and groundbreaking scholarship in Critical Intercultural Communication Studies. Raquel Moreira demonstrates an intersectional, performative approach to study historically nuanced and culturally specific modes of gender, sexuality, and the body among Brazil’s favela funk performers who are mostly Black and brown singers in the age of globalization. The most significant aspect of this book is to unapologetically showcase the paradox of desire in performing hypersexualized feminine genders which are often controlled, disciplined, and surveilled by patriarchy, sexism, and heteronormativity.”—Shinsuke Eguchi, Associate Professor, Department of Communication & Journalism, University of New Mexico

“I loved this book and could not put it down. While academic in tone, it is also conversational and interesting to read for any audience. Moreira’s book is an astute look at intersectional feminine performances in the contexts of Brazil and Funkeiras. Her interviews demonstrate the power of qualitative methodologies to uproot long-held assumptions that femininity is anything other than strength and resilience. This text offers scholars of communication studies, femininity studies, and/or women, gender, and sexuality studies a brilliant take on a specific community, with lessons of feminine empowerment for us all.”—Kathryn Hobson, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Studies, James Madison University

“We want the (favela) funk! Gotta have that (favela) funk! Moreira, in Bitches Unleashed, dismantles Global North and White, U.S. centric perspectives of research by reconceptualizing systems of gender and sexuality through transfeminista formulations of agency. By focusing on structural change and decolonizing cisheteronormativity, the centering of people of color and travesti communication offers the reader powerful analyses of white feminist failures, coloniality, transgression, intersectionality, and critical qualitative methodologies.”—Robert Gutierrez-Perez, Assistant Professor, Editor, Border-Lines: Journal of the Latino Research Center, Department of Communication Studies, University of Nevada, Reno