From the Physical Body to Dynamic Embodiment: Towards an Anthropological Study of Martial Arts Body Movement


  • Marta Nešković Institute for Political Studies, Belgrade, Serbia



anthropology, embodiment theories, dynamic embodiment, ontological dualism, habitus, body movement


This paper seeks a theoretical approach to the body best suited to the anthropological study of body movement in the martial arts. It follows the development of the anthropological attitude to the body from its formative period up until the present day, and this is done from the position of the “embodiment” paradigm as a theoretical orientation which enables a deeper understanding of the connection between specific cultural environments in which martial arts evolve and the meaning of the movements themselves. The introductory section provides a brief summary of “unembodied” theoretical schools of thought, which laid the foundations for the “somatic revolution”. The paper then considers the authors who have made the most significant contribution to the anthropological study of embodiment, and looks at four theoretical perspectives on the body, namely, the physical, socio-cultural, embodied, and dynamic embodiment perspectives. The paper also considers the question of overcoming the ontological body-mind dichotomy, which is the legacy of Cartesian dualism. Particular attention has been given to the embodiment and dynamic embodiment perspectives, and to their potential for application in anthropological studies of martial physical practices, illustrated with concrete examples.


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How to Cite

Nešković, Marta. 2021. “From the Physical Body to Dynamic Embodiment: Towards an Anthropological Study of Martial Arts Body Movement”. Etnoantropološki Problemi Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (4):1165–1185.