lipiäinen, tatjana

Cooperation Mechanisms of the Russian Youth: Transnational Capoeira Angola Movement in St. Petersburg

The first post-Soviet generation in Russia has been brought up in a highly competitive environment. New economic competition has been accompanied by wider normative confrontation over the new values and rules that are needed to fill in the post-Soviet ideational vacuum. How do young Russians manage to create and sustain some forms of local agreement and cooperation within this context of continuing social uncertainty? After all, many analysts today see the Russian youth as being divided due to increasing pressures of the market economy that arguably imposes individualisation as well as due to the lack of previous Soviet legacy of youth self-organisation. And yet, there are Russian youth initiatives that manage to sustain micro-level cooperation amidst the macro-level competition. Capoeira angola groups practicing an Afro-Brazilian art form are one such example of small, self-organising units. These entities usually belong to wider transnational networks of the capoeira angola movement that stems predominantly from Brazil. The game of capoeira angola itself rests on a fine balance between competition and cooperation as capoeristas engage both in playful fighting and in mutual interdependence through their movements and music. In many respects, such associations are a new phenomenon in Russia. On the one hand, they introduce cultural customs and values that are foreign to the country. On the other hand, they, even more significantly, introduce new ways of organising collectives on a local level. The presented paper will focus on fieldwork findings based on ethnographic observation and interviews in a capoeira angola group in St. Petersburg. The findings will illustrate the mechanisms used by capoeira angola members to organise and coordinate their collective actions. This, in turn, will shed light as to how the post-Soviet social competition and uncertainty in Russia is managed by some representatives of the first post-Soviet generation.

Thursday 25 October 15:15-16:45 Panels V, Panel 12 Competition and Co-operation in Sports (Hall 7)