Brunel Research Seminar

Event Details

Brunel Research Seminar

Time: November 21, 2018 from 4pm to 6pm
Location: Drama Studio, Gaskell Building
Street: Cleveland Rd
City/Town: London
Website or Map: http://people.brunel.ac.uk/da…
Phone: +44 (0)1895 267 343
Event Type: research, seminar
Organized By: Johannes Birringer
Latest Activity: Nov 19

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Event Description

Janet O'Shea  (University of California at Los Angeles):

"Oppositional Civility, Far-Right Fight Clubs, and Agonistic Democracy: Martial Arts as a Model for Politics"

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Abstract:

I have spent the last few years writing about physicalized opposition in combat sport, exploring how full contact martial art practices such as sparring and grappling differentiate themselves from violence even as they use the components of violence. In my forthcoming book, Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training, I suggest that martial arts provide an opportunity for practicing disagreement with respect, engaging a sense of oppositional civility that neither assumes all viewpoints are equally valid nor that opposition is inherently suspect. As such, when handled with reflection and intention, martial arts have the potential to act as a space where, in Chantal Mouffe's terms, participants can rehearse agonistics. In the face of rising right-wing populism, opportunities to practice radical democracy are both rare and necessary.

Two recent, unrelated events complicate, and potentially deepen, this consideration of combat sport as a site of agonistic respect: the so-called "civility wars," the effort to use politeness to squelch protest in the United States and the appearance of far-right mixed martial arts leagues or "fascist fight clubs." In this talk, I investigate these recent events, considering if and in what ways, martial arts and combat sport can operate as a practice of radical democracy.  


Bio:
Prof. Janet O'Shea is author of Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training (2018, Oxford University Press) and At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage (2007, Wesleyan University Press). Recipient of a UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant to study the cognitive benefits of Filipino Martial Arts training, she gave a TEDx Talk on competitive play and has offered keynote presentations at the Martial Arts Studies conference and Dance/Performance in Interdisciplinary Perspective Symposium. She is professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. 

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