CeMEAS Conversation: Paul Bowman

CeMEAS Conversation: Paul Bowman

Beyond the Legend: Bruce Lee’s Side Kick, New Martial Aesthetics and the Resurgence of Orientalism

CeMEAS Conversations: In this engaging interview with Paul Bowman, we embark on a journey through the multifaceted legacy of the martial arts legend, Bruce Lee. From his revolutionary contributions to action choreography to his pivotal role in bridging cultural divides, Bruce Lee’s influence continues to resonate worldwide. Bowman provides fascinating insights into what makes Bruce Lee such an enduring cultural icon, examining his unmatched impact on martial arts aesthetics in both Western and East Asian cinema.

Through thought-provoking discussions, Bowman delves into the philosophical underpinnings of Bruce Lee’s iconic sidekick move, drawing from the concept of anthropotechnics proposed by Peter Sloterdijk. Furthermore, Bowman explores how cinematic images, particularly those of Bruce Lee, shape real-life practices and perceptions of human reality, offering a glimpse into his upcoming research endeavors. Finally, Bowman discusses the resurgence of orientalism in Western health discourse during the pandemic and its potential implications for post-pandemic media discussions. Join us as we unravel the complexities of Bruce Lee’s legacy and explore the far-reaching impact of his martial arts mastery, cinematic innovations, and global influence.


In this interview Paul Bowman discusses the following questions:

What do you believe makes Bruce Lee such an enduring cultural icon?

How does Peter Sloterdijk’s idea of anthropotechnics affect your study of Bruce Lee’s sidekick move?

How do you think Bruce Lee’s movies and martial aesthetics have changed people’s ideas about fighting and what’s real?

What drove the resurgence of Orientalism in Western health discourse during the pandemic, and how do you anticipate this trend influencing media discussions in the post-pandemic era?

Paul is Deputy Head of School and professor of cultural studies at the University of Cardiff. With a focus on cultural theory and popular culture, Bowman has been the Director of the Martial Arts Studies Research Network since 2015, organizing international conferences, launching the Martial Arts Studies Podcast, and publishing the journal “Martial Arts Studies.” His latest monograph, “The Invention of Martial Arts,” published by Oxford University Press in December 2020, showcases his expertise in the field. Bowman is a staunch supporter of open access research, contributing significantly to the establishment of Cardiff University Press.

This video was recorded as part of our ENLIGHT workshop ‘More than a Distant Relative: China and its Neighbors in an Increasingly Turbulent World.’