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Reading: Fighting Over Bruce Lee


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Fighting Over Bruce Lee


Paul Bowman

Cardiff University, GB
About Paul

Paul Bowman is Professor of Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. He is author of a dozen books of cultural studies, including Theorizing Bruce Lee (2010), Beyond Bruce Lee (2013), Martial Arts Studies (2014), and Mythologies of Martial Arts (2017). His most recent book is Deconstructing Martial Arts, published open access online by Cardiff University Press in 2019. He has recently finished writing a book titled The Invention of Martial Arts, which is forthcoming. His current research is on discourses of self-defence.

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This article responds to Kyle Barrowman’s polemic against my work on Bruce Lee (this issue). Part One of my response sets out the overarching problems with Barrowman’s misreading of my work and of poststructuralism. Part Two sets out some of the arguments I have actually made about Bruce Lee, as opposed to those Barrowman imputes to me. Readers principally interested in Bruce Lee or in my own take on Bruce Lee could skip Part One. However, in both sections, the difference between Barrowman’s caricatured representations and my actual arguments about Bruce Lee should become clear. In the end, the article assesses Barrowman’s call for a rejection both of poststructuralism and of the tendency to read Lee as a proponent of East Asian philosophy.

How to Cite: Bowman, P., 2019. Fighting Over Bruce Lee. Martial Arts Studies, 8, pp.29–48. DOI:
Published on 29 Jul 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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