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Bruce Lee and the Anti-imperialism of Kung Fu: A Polycultural Adventure

Bruce Lee and the Anti-imperialism of Kung Fu: A Polycultural Adventure positions 11:1 Spring 2003 who want to recall the days of Saturday Night Fever (dir. John Badham, 1977) also remember that Tony Manero’s (John Travolta) room in the movie hosted a poster of Bruce Lee, and Travolta himself showed us that he could wield the nanchakus. You can’t bring back the 1970s without Lee. The fascination is such that in 2004, South Korean filmmaker Chul Shin is slated to release a $50 million movie billed as Lee’s “comeback film.” With computer graphics, Dragon Warrior will “star” a digital Bruce Lee.2 My interest in kung fu is, however, only partly in the phenomenon itself. I am interested in how an investigation of kung fu can help us move from a limited multicultural framework into an antiracist, polycultural one.3 Many scholars have complained in recent years about the limits of multiculturalism, about how it sees cultural zones as discrete and preformed communities (black, Asian, Latino, white), with the role of the multiculturalist being that to respect the border of these zones and ask that we tolerate their practices from afar. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek polemically calls this “racism with a distance,” since the benevolent multiculturalist treats “culture” as a homogeneous and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

Bruce Lee and the Anti-imperialism of Kung Fu: A Polycultural Adventure

positions asia critique , Volume 11 (1) – Mar 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-11-1-51
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

positions 11:1 Spring 2003 who want to recall the days of Saturday Night Fever (dir. John Badham, 1977) also remember that Tony Manero’s (John Travolta) room in the movie hosted a poster of Bruce Lee, and Travolta himself showed us that he could wield the nanchakus. You can’t bring back the 1970s without Lee. The fascination is such that in 2004, South Korean filmmaker Chul Shin is slated to release a $50 million movie billed as Lee’s “comeback film.” With computer graphics, Dragon Warrior will “star” a digital Bruce Lee.2 My interest in kung fu is, however, only partly in the phenomenon itself. I am interested in how an investigation of kung fu can help us move from a limited multicultural framework into an antiracist, polycultural one.3 Many scholars have complained in recent years about the limits of multiculturalism, about how it sees cultural zones as discrete and preformed communities (black, Asian, Latino, white), with the role of the multiculturalist being that to respect the border of these zones and ask that we tolerate their practices from afar. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek polemically calls this “racism with a distance,” since the benevolent multiculturalist treats “culture” as a homogeneous and

Journal

positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2003

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