25 January 2017: Seminar on Performance, Anthropology & Martial Arts

Please join us for the first PEP Talk of 2017

the seminar series of the Performance.Experience.Presence research group at Plymouth University:

 The Anthropology of Performance in Martial Arts Studies

Presented by Dr D.S. Farrer

 Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 4.30 – 6.00pm

in Roland Levinsky Building room RLB306, Plymouth University 

By Shi Deru (a.k.a. Shawn Xiangyang Liu), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45725217

By Shi Deru (a.k.a. Shawn Xiangyang Liu), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45725217

The development of a new academic field in martial arts studies was premised for the most part on research methods stemming from anthropology, sociology, theatre, and performance studies, including performance ethnography, nomadology, and carnal ethnography. While methodological innovations have taken the forefront, a contemporary theoretical statement of “the anthropology of martial arts” in the context of martial arts studies has yet to be fully developed.

Many questions remain to be addressed, such as why people still continue to practice martial arts, how practice and performance is transformed in the digital era, whether the benefits of practice outweigh the drawbacks, and what happens to traditional practices and performances when martial arts become transnational and commoditized. This presentation seeks to establish fundamental aims and objectives of research in the anthropology of martial arts inspired from ongoing ethnographic research, alongside foundational texts in the anthropology of performance, the anthropology of art, and the newly emerging literature in martial arts studies.

To create a synthesis appropriate to anthropologists, academics, and the wider martial arts community foundational texts are read in tandem with ethnographic grounded theory developed from Chinese martial arts in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand, stick-dance on Yap, and Brazilian jiu jitsu on Guam.

D. S. Farrer is Associate Professor of anthropology at the University of Guam and currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Plymouth University. He edited War Magic: Religion, Sorcery, and Performance (2016), co-edited Martial Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World (2011), and authored Shadows of the Prophet: Martial Arts and Sufi Mysticism (2009).

The PEP Talks organising team: Chris Green, Katheryn Owens & Beth Emily Richards

Twitter: @PlymUniPEP

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