Nomad Aesthetics of Capoeira and the Deterritorialization of ADHD

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    The diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is associated with subtle neurological, psychological or social signs that pertain to a certain coding of the body. In this sense the ADHD diagnosis can be seen as an instance of an established “body politic”.
    As an effort to present an embodied and aesthetic deterritorialization of the established understanding of ADHD this paper will explore the relationship between the expressive movements of the Afro-Brazilian martial art, capoeira, and the state of the body established by the ADHD diagnosis.
    Primarily constituted through a classical mind / body dualism the ADHD diagnosis classifies the subjects as appearing “as if their mind is elsewhere” (Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-IV-TR., 2000, p. 85). In this context the embodied cultural resistance in capoeira aesthetics can be seen as an endeavor toward an absolute movement of deterritorialization in relation to the subjective, social and scientific ideas of the body. As Deleuze and Guattari note: “martial arts do not adhere to a code, as an affair of the State, but follow ways, which are so many paths of the affect” (1987, p. 400). In concurrence with this description the capoeira scholar Nestor Capoeira has pointed out that capoeira can be considered a “Brazilian nomadic and urban war machine” (Capoeira, 2002, p. 91). As an art of physical and cultural resistance against the oppressing forces of slavery, the expressive bodily aesthetics of capoeira resonates heavily with Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of a Body without Organs – an anti-production or escape from the strata of the established organization.
    Following this line of thought, this paper suggests that the aesthetics of capoeira constitutes a plane of expressive deterritorialization and embodied potential for change in the face of the ADHD diagnosis.


    Capoeira, N. (2002). Capoeira: Roots of the dance-fight-game. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

    Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-IV-TR. (2000). (4th ed.). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date10 Jul 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2013
    Event6th International Deleuze Studies Conference: Territory in-between - Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
    Duration: 8 Jul 201310 Jul 2013
    Conference number: 6


    Conference6th International Deleuze Studies Conference
    LocationFaculty of Science, University of Lisbon
    Internet address


    • Deleuze
    • ADHD
    • Capoeira
    • Aesthetics
    • Deterritorialization
    • Movement
    • Embodiment

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