6th International Martial Arts Studies Conference

Martial arts, Religion and Spirituality (MARS)


NB: This conference was originally planned to take place in Marseille, France. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, the conference was moved online to a digital format.

The information below relates to the originally planned physical conference that had to be cancelled. To access the virtual conference, please visit: https://mars2020.hypotheses.org/

Focusing on the relations between martial arts, religion and spirituality, this conference aims to engage the diversity and plurality of understandings of each of these terms – ‘martial arts’, ‘religion’, ‘spirituality’ – and of their relationships.

Any scholarly approach to the analysis of martial activity in relation to religion and spirituality is welcome, but preference will be given to those that demonstrate an adequate engagement with the field of ‘martial arts studies’, an emergent interdisciplinary discourse situated at the crossroads of the social and natural sciences, arts and humanities.

The organising panel is particularly interested in proposals for papers and panels that examine, interrogate, analyse, and cast new light on the relations, overlaps, identities and differences between and across martial arts, religions and spiritualities. Possible themes for papers and panels might include:

  • techniques du corps, embodied knowledge, skills acquisition;
  • physical exercise, theatrical expertise, and sports activities;
  • mystical and spiritual practices, existential philosophies, and conceptions of power;
  • myth, legend and extraordinary experience;
  • martial cosmologies and their rituals;
  • combat techniques and their references;
  • content formalisation processes;
  • initiation rituals and modes of apprenticeship;
  • institutional processes and programs: sports, education, integration, security
  • knowledge and skills transmission;
  • the contribution of (ancient or modern) texts;
  • Millennial spiritualties (New Age, neo-shamanism, mindfulness, etc.);
  • commodification;
  • health and longevity gymnastics or therapeutic exercises;
  • the secular-religious opposition;
  • legal and moral issues;
  • postmodern, postcolonial and transnational factors;
  • the role of media in constructing and disseminating myths, fantasies, ideas and discourses of martial arts, religion and spirituality

Selected papers will be published as a special issue of the journal Martial Arts Studies (Cardiff University Press). Other publishing opportunities are also anticipated.

To access the virtual conference, please visit: https://mars2020.hypotheses.org/


Organised by The Martial Arts Studies Research Network in collaboration with Institut de recherches Asiatiques (IrAsia, AMU) and the Anthropology Program of the University of Guam, the conference organisers are:

  • Paul Bowman (Cardiff University)
  • Laurent Chircop-Reyes (AMU, IrAsia)
  • Gabriel Facal (IrAsia)
  • DS Farrer (University of Guam)
  • Jean-Marc de Grave (AMU, IrAsia)

To submit a proposal for an individual paper or a complete themed panel (of three connected papers), please send one Word Document to the organising team at the email address martial.arts@cardiff.ac.uk containing the following information:

  • Title
  • Abstract (300 words max)
  • Bio-note (150 words max)
  • Keywords (5 max)
  • Contact email address
  • Link to personal or professional webpage (if available)

Deadline for Proposals: 1st January 2020

Submit Proposals to: martial.arts@cardiff.ac.uk


Scientific Committee

  • Sylvain Brocquet (Université d’Aix-Marseille)
  • Catherine Capdeville-Zeng (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales)
  • Catherine Despeux (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales)
  • Vincent Goossaert (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes)
  • Heddy Shri Ahimsa Putra (Universitas Gadjah Mada)
  • Robert W. Hefner (Boston University)
  • Adeline Herrou (Laboratoire d’Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative, CNRS)
  • Meaghan Morris (University of Sydney)
  • Alexis Nuselovici (Université d’Aix-Marseille)
  • Dana Rappoport (Centre Asie du Sud-Est, CNRS)
  • Wening Udasmoro (Universitas Gadjah Mada)
  • Ji Zhe (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales)


To access the virtual conference, please visit: https://mars2020.hypotheses.org/