Course Number: ANTH 13181-2
Instructor: Eric Haanstad
“Martial arts has a very very deep meaning as far as my life is concerned because as an actor, as a martial artist, as a human being – all these I have learned from martial arts.” — Bruce Lee, 1971
From Hong Kong cinemas, to Black Belt magazines, to MMA pay-per-view events, to online video games, martial arts are intertwined with the popular culture of global media. This seminar enlists the martial arts to explore themes from history, philosophy, anthropology, aesthetic theory, media studies, and sports as embodied practice. By merging multiple dimensions of historical identity, artistic expression, and cultural practice, martial arts have a unique ability to access the human imagination. This seminar synthesizes the global transmission of martial arts through an interdisciplinary approach to symbolically violent popular culture. By tracking the proliferation of the martial arts in popular media, from Yip Man film sequels, to Muay Thai YouTube clips, to karate tournament supply catalogues and dojo iconography, the cultural lives of these arts are revealed. We will examine the broad diversity of martial arts media including jujitsu in Japan, kali/escrima in the Philippines, pencak silat in Indonesia, and savate in France. In this way, the seminar crafts informative linkages between the cultural variations of martial arts and their global influence in popular consciousness.