Call for Papers: The Invention of Martial Arts

A Collection Edited by Paul Bowman

In an era when researchers are expected to be very familiar with arguments about the ‘invention of tradition’, ‘imagined communities’, ‘imagined geographies’, and so on, how are scholars of martial arts to assess the traditions, narratives, common knowledges and commonplace beliefs about martial arts? This collection seeks to explore the invention of martial arts – when the word ‘invention’ is read in terms of such ground-breaking texts as The Invention of Tradition, Imagined Communities, Orientalism, and the works of cultural studies, cultural history, and cultural geography that have been stimulated in response to these seminal contributions.

Proposals are invited from scholars that engage critically with any significant aspect of ‘invention’ in, around and of martial arts – from the origin myths, folklore and popular cultural imaginings of traditions, to motivated political or ideological interventions and inventions, to the most modern, commodified, mediatized and spectacular inventions of martial arts. Contributions may include (but are not limited to) studies of:

  • Origin myths and lineage narratives in traditional martial arts;
  • Rediscovered and reconstructed martial arts;
  • The appropriation of martial arts in nationalist, nation-building, social management and other political processes;
  • The dissemination, development, and transformation of martial arts;
  • The commodification and international trade in martial arts;
  • Comparative considerations of the ‘same’ martial art in different contexts;
  • The place of martial arts in contemporary culture, society and economy;
  • Issues of the relations of martial arts to tradition, modernity, postmodernity, coloniality, postcoloniality, neocoloniality and globalisation;
  • Martial arts and/as ideology.

Proposals should be sent to Paul Bowman at

Proposals should be 150-300 words

The deadline for proposals is Monday 14th September 2015

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